2016 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most bizarre election years in American history. No matter what your political leanings are, you can't help but wonder how our options came down to Dystopian Future Biff Tannen and Pantsuit Lady MacBeth. But this isn't even close to the dumbest, craziest, most spectacularly corrupt election America has dealt with. For example...
5The U.S. Congressman Who Could Only Come Outside On Sundays
Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, who served from 1945-1971 as the House representative for Harlem, was notable for a few reasons. He was one of the first African Americans elected to Congress, he made great strides in the early quest for civil rights, and he ultimately proved as cocky and difficult to get rid of as the Caddyshack gopher.
A clip from his acceptance speech.
Powell was notoriously tardy with his taxes -- by which we mean that the federal government went after him for unpaid taxes starting in the early '50s. They upped their game in 1963, when Powell lost a slander lawsuit against an old lady he'd bafflingly accused of running bribes, and refused to pay that settlement as well. In 1965, a judge finally ordered Powell to be held in contempt, and issued an arrest warrant. But due to a rule in New York that warrants couldn't be served on Sundays, Powell simply went into hiding six days a week, only appearing in public on Sundays. A fed up House of Representatives eventually decided to kick his ass out, and a special election was held to replace him in Congress. After the votes were counted, the winner, by a whopping 86 percent, was ... Adam Clayton Powell.
Democracy having spoken loud and clear, Powell was readmitted to Congress. But instead of showing up to work, he threw up both middle fingers and moved to the Bahamas for the duration of his term, keeping his full salary while doing nothing but smoking cigars, gambling, and chilling with exotic dancers.
So the same perks of Congress, then.
New York went back to the polls in 1968, and again elected Powell to another term. Exasperated, the House stripped Powell of his seniority and fined him for misusing travel expenses. Powell responded by suing Congress, and winning. According to Powell, "My people would elect me ... even if I had to be propped up in my casket." In 1970, Powell finally lost an election, by a mere 150 votes. Soon afterward he died of cancer, and Congress breathed a sigh of relief. Then his eyes popped open and the violins wailed before cutting straight to credits.
4The State Senate Candidate Who Almost Won An Election By Murdering His Opponent
State senate elections are generally low key. Such positions are more or less open to whoever wants them, as candidates frequently run unopposed. This was the case for the 15th District of the Tennessee Senate in the 1998 election. Voters had only one choice on the ballot: a former county tax assessor named Byron (Low Tax) Looper. And yes, that was his real name -- he had his middle name legally changed from Anthony to "(Low Tax)," awkward parentheses and all. By way of foreshadowing, the man was a little crazy.
Tennessee Department of Correction
And a lot murdery.
During his time as a humble county tax assessor, Looper managed to rack up a ridiculous list of investigations against him. But even with indictments hanging over his head, he still had aspirations of being a state senator. The only problem was that someone was already running for the position: incumbent senator Tommy Burks.
Looper could have done the democratic thing and run a fair campaign against his opponent, but he went for option B instead. He drove down to Burks' farm with a Smith & Wesson and, in his own alleged words, "busted a cap in that dude's head."
M. Yalcin Yalhi
Which matched the hole Looper had in his own.
Having left an absurd amount of evidence behind, as well as a powerful and extremely public motive, Loopy Looper was quickly arrested and thrown in jail awaiting trial. And yet he was still on his way to winning the senate seat. Dead men can't run for government positions. Looper, not yet convicted of a felony, was still eligible, even from jail. It was a plan as technically flawless as it was stunningly idiotic.
Thankfully, he lost after both the Republicans and Democrats came together in a rare truce and launched a massive write-in campaign for Tommy Burks's widow, Charlotte Burks, who won in a landslide. Looper was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, ultimately dying there in 2013. Oh, and Charlotte Burks served in the Tennessee State Senate until 2015.