Sex scandals are as American as (sticking your wiener in an) apple pie. (Or should we say your Anthony Weiner?) The really unforgettable scandals leave us with a particular phrase or image burned into our brains. We could be a hundred years old and senile and we will still be able to recall Lorena Bobbitt tossing her husband’s penis out the car window; Clarence Thomas asking Anita Hill about a pubic hair on a coke can; and an astronaut driving hundreds of miles in a diaper to confront the lover who spurned her. Here are our nominations for the top ten sex scandals in this nation’s history, organized by the categories in which these events most often seem to occur. God bless (or should we say God save) America!
10. SPORTS: The Yankee Swap
In 1973, two star Yankee players, Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich, held a press conference during spring training to announce they were swapping lives. It started as a joke during a double-date with their wives (hey, it was the seventies) and suddenly they were agreeing to a full-on wife-swap. Initially they just knocked boots for an evening… but eventually they decide to swap permanently — including kids, pets, the lot. Mike didn’t last long with Fritz’s former wife, but Fritz and Mike’s wife are still married today with four children of their own. Guess that Yankee doodle diddling was dandy.
Sports runners-up: Duke Lacrosse; Jerry Sandusky (we feel queasy just typing his name); and Tiger Woods (enduring image: a reporter from the National Enquirer secretly stealing the bloody tampon that one of Tiger’s mistresses removed and tossed in a parking lot in order to have a quickie with the golf legend).
9. STATE POLITICS
(a) The (Hypocritical) Democrat Edition: Eliot Spitzer
This New York governor was trapped by the very measures he put in place to crack down on corruption! Oh Client 9, is their no limit to your hubris? We’re extra pissed at Spitzer because we always thought he’d make a pretty fine U.S. president one day. Then again, second acts seem to be increasingly common in this country…
Runner-up: Anthony Weiner’s wiener. Tweeted.
(b) The (Hypocritical) Republican Edition: Larry Craig
Three words for you: wide-legged stance. And therein lies the most ridiculous defense of sexual behavior in the entire history of this nation, so far as we are concerned. The Idaho senator with a record of anti-gay legislation was charged with trolling for gay sex in an airport men’s room. It must be tough being gay when you’re a homophobe.
8. COULDA-BEEN-A-CONTENDER POLITICS: John Edwards
We’re not sure which cost North Carolina Senator John Edwards more potential presidential votes: the fact that he impregnated his mistress (and then used campaign funds to try to hush the matter up and also had a campaign aide falsely claim to the be father) while his wife was suffering from breast cancer — or the fact that he regularly spent $500 on his haircuts.
Runners-up: Gary “Monkey Business” Hart and Jerry Springer. (Did you know that back in the seventies, before he conquered daytime television, Springer had a bright and shining career in politics? He had to resign from his Cinncinati city council seat after getting busted for writing a personal check to a prostitute. A personal check, dude — seriously?)
7. HOLLYWOOD: Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood Madam
By 27, Heidi Fleiss was running an infamous prostitution ring in Hollwood with a seriously A-list group of clients. She made millions a year until she was busted and sentenced to seven years in prison (though she only served two months in prison, then three years in a halfway house). But she never named names — saying, “That’s not my style” — and to this day, so far as we know, the only celebrity confirmed in her little black book is Charlie Sheen (and we’re pretty sure he announced that himself).
Runners-up: Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s sex tapes; also, Ingrid Bergman, who may not have been born in the U.S., but was called “an instrument of evil” on the floor of the U.S. senate after cheating on her husband with (and getting pregnant by) director Roberto Rossellini in 1950.
6. RELIGION: Jimmy Swaggart Calls the Kettle Black
Back in 1986, TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart used his screen time to attack fellow televangelists, Marvin Gorman and Jim Bakker, for having affairs. Gorman then hired a private investigator (oh, those forgiving evangelists!) to uncover Swaggart’s own dalliances with a prostitute.
Swaggart teared up on TV, saying, “I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God’s forgiveness.” Three years later, he was busted with another prostitute. We hope those seas of God’s forgiveness run real deep.
Runners-up: Ted Haggard (preached against gay marriage to millions while paying for gay sex and crystal meth); also the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child rape by priests (which would be more than a runner-up except for the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on this sex scandal).