9 Dumb & Embarrassing American Elections Nobody Talks About

You know American democracy can't always have a 'West Wing' tone. Mud will be slung! Sexploits will be news! Results will occasionally be fishy! However, there is a cottage industry of people claiming the current negatives of American politics are new. They claim we are a few social changes (and a few purchases of MY NEW BOOK) away from "returning" to a more positive past. A past where noble patriots ran "traditional" campaigns and "did things the right way" and "were not divisive." But what if everything we just put in quotes is wishful fiction? What if most American elections have been...disapppointing? And what if gaining that historical perspective will make your 2020 a lot more tolerable?

On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedians & satirists Zack Bornstein (The New Yorker, 'Alternatino') and Adam Tod Brown (Unpopular Opinion podcast network) for forgotten stories of dumb and embarrassing American elections. They'll share tales of corruption, lies, fraud, sex stuff, and other crimes dominating 200+ years of Presidential politics. It turns out the gross U.S. elections you do know about (2000, 2016, and maaaaaybe 1876) are the historical norm -- and boy will that wisdom do wonders for your 2020 mental health.


The Unpopular Opinion podcast network

Zack Bornstein's comedy writing for The New Yorker

"Always Too Soon: Writing Sketch Comedy in the Trump Era" by Alternatino showrunner Jay Martel (The New Yorker)

4 Historical Elections That Prove We're All Petty Morons (Cracked)

5 Insane Strategies That Won Elections (and Changed History) (Cracked)

United States presidential election of 1876 (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The Election of 1800: The Birth of Negative Campaigning in the U.S. (Mental Floss)

UVA Miller Center piece on President John Adams' foreign policy -- features Adams' efforts to decrease hostilities with France, and bring an end to the Quasi-War.

Biography: James Callender (PBS American Experience)

The History of a Secret: A chronology of how the Jefferson-Hemings story was long dismissed by historians as legend, lie or worse (PBS Frontline, from 2000)

Why Isn't a Rape Allegation Worth an Impeachment Inquiry? On the selective accountabilities of the Trump hearings (The Atlantic)

Trump accuser says she has documents corroborating sexual assault claims (The Guardian)

List of Trump's accusers and their allegations of sexual misconduct (ABC News)

United States presidential election of 1824 (Encyclopedia Britannica)

This Day In History, Dec. 1st 1824: Presidential election goes to the House of Representatives (History.com)

When an Anonymous Letter Roiled the Nation's Capital…in 1825 (History.com)

12th Amendment (Cornell Legal Information Institute)

Tally of Electoral Votes for the 1800 Presidential Election (archives.gov) -- story of VP candidate Aaron Burr almost stealing Presidency from his running mate Thomas Jefferson. The 12th Amendment (passed 1804) prevented this in future elections.

Presidential election is thrown into House: Dec. 1, 1824 (Politico)

1912 Republican Convention (Smithsonian)

"Yooo @MittRomney the streets need you!" -- @davonmagwood on Twitter, Feb 24th 2016

William Henry Harrison: Death of the President (UVA Miller Center)

Battle of Tippecanoe (Encyclopedia Britannica)

William Henry Harrison: Life Before the Presidency (UVA Miller Center) -- partial description of Battle of Tippecanoe: "Harrison ordered a counterattack that was successful in routing the Native Americans by midmorning. The graves of several Indians killed in the battle were dug up and desecrated.

Floride Bonneau Colhoun Calhoun (Clemson University)

United States presidential election of 1980 (Encyclopedia Britannica)

6 Ways You Didn't Realize Ronald Reagan Ruined The Country (Cracked)

That racist Reagan recording just confirmed what my community already knew (Salon)

United States presidential election of 1988 (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Reagan on Dukakis: 'I Won't Pick on Invalid' : 'Just Trying to Be Funny,' President Later Says of His Answer to Question on Medical Records (Los Angeles Times)

Kitty Dukakis Details Her Long Battle With Alcohol (Los Angeles Times)

Dukakis and the Tank: The inside story of the worst campaign photo op ever. (Politico)

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? (The New York Times Magazine)

George H.W. Bush's "Willie Horton" ad will always be the reference point for dog-whistle racism (Vox)

Willie Horton Revisited (The Marshall Project)

The Kitty Dukakis Rape Question 1988 Election (YouTube)

Questions that kill candidates' careers (Politico) -- features CNN reporter Bernard Shaw's planned 1988 tough question for George H.W. Bush: "If he were elected and died before Inauguration Day, how would he feel about Dan Quayle's becoming president?"

President Cleveland's Problem Child (Smithsonian)

The Dirtiest Election (American Heritage) -- more info on 1884 election between Cleveland and Blaine

United States presidential election of 1920 (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Presidential Election of 1920 (Library of Congress)

Warren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips Correspondence (Library of Congress)

DNA Is Said to Solve a Mystery of Warren Harding's Love Life (The New York Times)

When a secret president ran the country (PBS News Hour)

9 Ridiculous Myths Everyone Believes About The Old West (The Cracked Podcast)

Warren G. Harding: Campaigns and Elections (UVA Miller Center) -- this confirms Harding conducted a "front porch campaign" in 1920.

The socialist who ran for president from prison -- and won nearly a million votes (The Washington Post)

interactive electoral map for 2004 U.S. Presidential election (270 To Win) -- if you flip Ohio to Kerry, Kerry wins with 271 votes.

"Ohio's Odd Numbers" by Christopher Hitchens (Vanity Fair)

Recounting Ohio (Mother Jones) -- an opinion piece that argues Ohio was not stolen from Kerry in 2004, yet admits major problems like Franklin County (home to Columbus and to Ohio State U.) putting most of its voting machines in pro-Republican precincts, creating long lines in pro-Democrat precincts that drove voters away. Also points out the actions of Republican Ohio Sec. of State Ken Blackwell. "Blackwell's two most potent acts of disenfranchisement, skeptics say, were the purging of 133,000 mostly Democratic voters from the rolls and the non-counting of 92,000 ballots rejected by voting machines as unreadable." In 2004 Bush won Ohio by a total of less than 119,000 votes.

John Kerry's Service Record (Snopes) -- "CLAIM: John Kerry's Vietnam War service medals (a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts) were earned under "fishy" circumstances. STATUS OF CLAIM: False."

Scandals of the Recent Past: the John Edwards Affair Affair (Splinter)

Timeline: Scandal According to Andrew Young (ABC News)

John Edwards sex tape suit settled (Politico)

National Enquirer owner admits to 'catch and kill' payment to ex-Playmate (The Guardian)

Jeri Ryan (IMDb)

How a 'Star Trek' actress changed the course of history (Entertainment Weekly)

June 25th, 2004 CNN report on Jack Ryan dropping out of U.S. Senate race in Illinois

Ditka regrets not running for Senate, says Obama wouldn't be President (CBS Sports)

Parental Warning: Uncensored Highlights From Blagojevich Complaint (Harper's Weekly)