5 Rulers Whose Idiot Siblings Nearly Screwed the World
No comedy would be complete without the Wacky Screwup Brother, the Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover-type who is there to throw a wrench in everything with some sort of stupid scheme (also see: Gob Bluth from Arrested Development). It's not so funny in real life. Especially if, say, the level-headed sibling is one of the world's most powerful people, and the wacky screw-up brother is in a position to cause an international incident.
OK, so maybe it is funny after all.
Hillary Clinton's Brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham
While Bill Clinton's coke-addled half-brother, Roger, was a continued embarrassment to his presidency, it can be said he at least caused no major international incidents. The same doesn't exactly apply to his wife's brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham, who almost cost the United States a crucial ally in Eastern Europe. And, unlike Roger, it wasn't cocaine that screwed everything up -- it was hazelnuts.
Surprisingly, there's no double meaning there. We're talking about the actual nuts.
First off, Tony and Hugh did not exactly have much going for them from the start. While Hillary was off getting a law degree and marrying Bill, her brothers bounced around to various odd jobs such as prison guard and repo man. Then their brother-in-law got elected president in 1992, and they had it made.
At first, Tony and Hugh did little things, like trying to get corporate donations for upcoming election parties, but Hillary had to tell them to knock it off. And then in 1999, they teamed up for a get rich quick scheme to import hazelnuts from the country of Georgia. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that they could fuck up on an "international incident" scale, but like wacky sitcom brothers, they found a way.
They're just short of trying to save the local teen center with dance.
The problem was that the U.S. government needed to stay on good terms with Georgia's government, since they were helping out during the war in Kosovo. America was thus friendly with Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze. But the guy in charge of the hazelnut company the Rodham brothers were dealing with was Aslan Abashidze, Shevardnadze's archenemy.
So when word of this hazelnut deal got out with the Clinton in-laws attached, it made the Clintons look like they were working against the Georgian president behind the scenes.
The Clintons asked the Rodham brothers to drop it for the good of, you know, not destabilizing a former hostile Soviet territory. They actually refused for a while, before finally agreeing to let it go for the good of Georgia. Since then, Hillary has kept the two out of the public eye, despite them wanting to help her campaigns. If she'd become president in 2008, we're thinking that by now at least one of these guys would have come up with a hair-brained scheme to sell the nuclear arsenal to a dude they knew in college.
Fuckin' Gary, man. Guy's a trip.
President Jimmy Carter's Brother, Billy Carter
In the late 1970s, Americans got laughs from two major sources: A coked-up Robin Williams playing an alien named Mork, and Jimmy Carter's beer swilling brother, Billy Carter. Almost immediately following Jimmy's inauguration in 1977, the press started to take an interest in his eccentric family, especially the gas station good ol' boy from small-town Georgia, Billy.
Suddenly finding himself in the nation's spotlight, Billy took advantage of the situation by playing up his redneck roots and marketing his own brand of beer called Billy Beer. OK, that's kind of embarrassing for a president, but it certainly isn't a crime. But Billy would continually act obnoxious around his brother (in front of the press) and was even caught urinating on an airport runway in full view of foreign dignitaries (and again, the press).
"Seriously. A lot. It's gotten to be a major problem."
But still, it's not like all of that had any real consequences. But then Billy decided to take it upon himself to visit Libya, to try to expand the oil trade between that country and the U.S.
If you think he wasn't exactly qualified to declare himself a "delegate" on behalf of the U.S. then you're dead wrong, because Billy was in every way, shape and form an oil magnate. And by that, we mean he owned a gas station.
Not many politicians can boast that kind of experience.
So why would he suddenly get so ambitious? Well, after his visit to Libya in 1978, Billy returned to the U.S. with $20,000, which would eventually become $220,000, ostensibly for a "loan" (according to the CIA, a telegraph showed the payments received were probably closer to $2 million). Amazingly, Libya was apparently paying him off because they thought Billy, as Jimmy's brother, held major sway in U.S. policy.
He did not.
The whole Libya situation led to a scandal that became known as "Billygate," for which the U.S. Senate wound up holding hearings to grill Billy on the nature of his visit and the purpose of the money he received.
Jimmy was angry at his brother and was concerned that he was now working for an enemy nation, but Billy was ultimately cleared after the Senate investigation in 1980. Throughout the rest of President Carter's term, Billy kept making headlines, but this time for his trouble with the IRS and selling his house to pay back taxes.
"So, me paying for these chicken wings makes us even, right?"
Napoleon's Sister Pauline Bonaparte
Proving that it's not always brothers who can cause damage, Pauline Bonaparte was a prime example of a sister that caused international incidents just by being herself.
The younger sister of the French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte, Pauline was only a minor noble, but she lived like a queen. Not one to care for things like human dignity, she would often have servants lie on their hands and knees and use them as footstools.
"Human dignity is the most expensive furniture there is."
Though it's a little hard to tell from this or almost any other old painting, Pauline was incredibly hot, and she knew it. She didn't really aspire to much other than a life of leisure and/or adultery, and she seemed to enjoy the scandals she regularly caused. As her brother was taking control of France, trying to cross the Alps and get pastries named after him, she was begging him for favors, money and positions of power, despite her well-earned reputation as a drunk who would sleep with anyone over middle class.
"Whatever, dickhead, just paint my nipples and then whip out your junk."
With stories of his floozy sister's escapades being spread far and wide, it was finally time to take action. Mulling it over, Napoleon decided to do for her what he did for all his other brothers and sisters wanting more power: He gave her a recently conquered country to rule. And somehow, though he conquered most of the civilized world, he apparently had no foresight for how this scheme would turn out. Hey, remember when we joked that Hillary's brothers would have pawned the nuclear arsenal if given the chance? Yeah, it turned out like that.
Pauline ended up with the country of Guastalla, a small, douchey city-state in Italy. She threw a fit, but Napoleon was relieved and went back to work trying to take over Europe and finally kill his fictional nemesis, Richard Sharpe. But not too long after, Pauline was back in France, simply telling her brother she had grown bored with Guastalla and had, yes, sold the entire country to the neighboring kingdom of Parma for six million francs.
"Hey, the pawn shop was closed, and I was out of booze."
The Brother of One of the World's Richest Men, Jefri Bolkiah
Before Bill Gates starting taking the title of World's Richest Man every year, the title usually went to the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. In 2009 he made the list of the world's richest royals with a net worth of $20 billion.
And $2.8 billion in shiny medals.
He's called the Sultan of Brunei because Brunei is a small country in Southeast Asia on the island of Borneo, made insanely rich by, you guessed it, oil and natural gas. And like many countries that control vast amounts of resources, Brunei is family owned, in this case by a sultanship. Which means any family member can fill any important government position.
You can guess where this is going.
The Sultan of Brunei's brother Jefri Bolkiah was a bit of a troublemaker. Initially he got into the press due to his escapades with his harem of over 40 women. Eventually things got embarrassing enough that the sultan gave him the job of finance minister, just to keep him out of the papers (because who cares about the minister of finance?), thinking he couldn't do any real damage there.
If your brother sports a porn-stache, just assume the worst no matter what.
Afterward he went on the kind of spending spree that only a billionaire could manage. Jefri didn't buy luxuyry goods -- he bought entire luxury goods stores. Also, fleets of cars and airplanes, yachts, chains of hotels, etc. He even flew women into Brunei to sexually abuse. Nice guy.
After the Asian markets collapsed in the late 1990s, Brunei's accountants soon noticed the $14 billion and followed the trail to Prince Jefri.
And by trail, we mean row after row of luxury yachts clogging up the harbor.
Naturally the sultan got pissed when he found out Jefri had siphoned a good 10 percent or so of the country's funds over the course of 12 years. The sultan tried to grab him before other countries or fellow Brunei citizens could, but Jefri skipped the country. So Hassanal simply banned him from the country for the next decade, with Jefri not being allowed back until 2009. After all, what's a little $14 billion among family?
The United States and United Kingdom brought several court cases, costing Brunei millions more to settle lawsuits caused by Jefri's misdoings. Brunei's reputation was ruined, the sultan still loses millions each year and Jefri is currently under virtual house arrest for pretty much the biggest embezzling job in history. Most importantly, though, this has probably led to some of the most awkward family dinners ever.
"Sorry, guys, but I ate all the food that I didn't already fuck."
Albert Goering, Brother of Hitler's Right-Hand Man, Hermann Goering
So let's turn this on its head for a moment. What happens when the powerful sibling is an asshole? Like, say, a high-ranking member of a fascist regime? How can a screw-up brother throw a wrench in that? By being too nice?
In the 1930s, the Nazis stormed into power in Germany and quickly set up shop. As a result, all of Adolf Hitler's buddies soon got top jobs, including Hermann Goering, who quickly moved up the ranks from head of the German Air Force in 1935 to being Hitler's number one man in 1941. Things were working out well for Hermann, except for two small things: The Allies quickly fighting back against German advances, and his fuckup brother, Albert Goering.
He's the one with the mustache.
Unlike big brother Hermann, Albert wasn't exactly a fan of Nazis. In fact, he hated Nazism, particularly because of all the violent tactics Nazis used against people who opposed them, but also because it was possible his dad was Jewish (a Jewish aristocrat banged his mother about a year before he was born, and Albert looked a lot like him).
Assuming his godfather loved cigarette holders and had an ultra-smooth forehead.
So, Albert started doing some decidedly un-Nazi things. When some Jewish women were forced to clean a street, he went down and started helping them. And when a German officer stopped him and immediately recognized him as the brother of Hitler's right-hand man, he had everyone stop and go home.
Another time, when his Jewish mentor in business, Oskar Pilzner, was sent to a concentration camp, he used his brother's name to not just get Pilzner and his family set free, but also sent them out of Germany. When Hermann heard about what Albert did, he kept it quiet from his temperamental boss and stuck his brother at a small position at a factory outside of Germany so he couldn't cause any more good deeds for humanity.
"'Brother?' I don't have a brother. Is that even a real word?"
Despite being relocated as a director of a remote Czechoslovakian factory, Albert still caused a lot of trouble by working even more aggressively against his country. He actually teamed up with the Czech resistance and helped sabotage his own factory while also forging his brother's signature on transit papers to help countless more Jews and dissidents escape out of Nazi-controlled territory. When he was caught doing this, all he had to do was phone up his brother, who bailed him out, much to Hermann's annoyance. And most famously, he sent for workers from concentration camps, where he then ordered the trucks on the way back to "mysteriously" break down, allowing the people to escape.
After the war, he was almost convicted of war crimes and was imprisoned for many years just because of his name, but so many of the Jewish survivors he saved came to his defense that he was let go. This was not the same for Hermann, the brother he pissed off numerous times. Hermann committed suicide during his trial in 1946.
"Screw you, Evil, I do what I want. You are not the boss of me."
As for Albert, he would go on to live a quiet and difficult life. But we like to think his final act summed him up: He was getting old and close to death, and he wanted to do something nice for his housekeeper. So he married her ... just so that when he died, she would keep getting a pension check as his widow.