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Politician, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared to the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.
Democracy: Noun. Informal. A form of government in which people, faced with the prospect of self-rule, cast the job into an exclusive mire of unskilled panderers.
Thorax, 9 Chickweed Lane

A Sleazy Politician exemplifies the worst stereotypes of politics; they take bribes, engage in blatant hypocrisy, face constant personal scandals and are generally unpleasant people to be around. Often, they are based on caricatures of real-world politicians, or amalgams of them -- especially ones that fall into Acceptable Political Targets. They tend to be shown with almost no charisma, too, which tends to make you wonder how they got elected in the first place. When taken to extremes, they will often have No Party Given, though they can also be used as a Strawman Political against one specific party, ideology, or against government in general. See also Corrupt Politician and Obstructive Bureaucrat.The Sleazy Politician differs from the Corrupt Politician because while a sleazy politician can simply have low moral standards he/she does not have to engage in criminal actions to qualify.

Although certainly Truth in Television, No Real Life Examples, Please.

Examples (Strictly Fictional)


Comic Books

  • Every politician in Sin City is this Turned Up to Eleven. Case in point: Senator Roark. He's so corrupt that he is perfectly willing to allow his son to rape and murder little girls, going so far as to protect him from honest detectives.

Film

  • The deputy mayor in Ikiru, who, after doing his damnedest to crush Watanabe's attempt to get a park built out of petty turf guarding, tries to take credit for it even at Watanabe's funeral.
  • Bill Heslop, local councilman for the fictional Australian town of Porpoise Spit in Muriels Wedding, has spent most of his political career positioning himself to get kickbacks for building projects as a local councilman in Porpoise Spit, and also makes a habit of cheating on his wife and emotionally abusing his kids.

Literature

  • Probably subverted, but possibly played straight, in Edwin O'Connor's novel The Last Hurrah. Frank Skeffington hands out political favors in exchange for loyalty, neutralizes political opponents by offering them jobs for which they are totally unqualified, distributes money from a glorified slush fund... and is positively beloved by the citizens of his city- even by many of those who vote against him. The film version is a definite subversion, which unambiguously depicts Skeffington as a positive figure.
    • Skeffington is an Expy of a Real Life mayor of Boston during the heyday of machine politics.
  • Tomer Darpen, Wedge's diplomatic liason in Starfighters of Adumar. Mind, what he did was all in service to the New Republic, more or less, but Wedge Antilles strongly disagreed with the strict Ends Justify The Means instructions. Which involved slaughtering the inferior native pilots to play up to the Blood Sport-happy local culture and helping to crush dissenting nations rebelling against the local country's New World Order. When Wedge refused, Tomer lied to the country's leader and the order was sent out to have Wedge and his pilots killed.
  • Congressman David Dilbeck in the Carl Hiaasen novel and film Striptease.
  • Greg Stillson in Stephen King's The Dead Zone regularly uses illegal methods, such as blackmailing businessmen to finance his campaigns, and intimidating whistleblowers with thugs. However, he's very charismatic, constructing an highly likeable public persona.
  • Littlefinger from A Song of Ice and Fire certainly qualifies; the brothels he owns are nothing compared to the fact that he's made frequent sexual advances on his barely teenage niece-by-marriage and semi-adoptive daughter.

Live Action TV

  • Pawnee City Councilman Bill Dexhart of Parks and Recreation fits this to a T, complete with sex scandals, religious and social hypocrisy, and incredibly obvious sleaze, to which everyone is completely oblivious because he's so good looking (and because nobody cares about local politics).
  • More or less averted (!) in Yes Minister: Even at his pandering lowest, Jim Hacker still understands right and wrong and has a sense of duty to his constituents and the British people. He's more pathetic than despicable in his (often half-baked) attempts to win popularity. As his wife put it, he's a "whisky priest" who recognizes that what he's doing is wrong and still feels bad about it.
  • Similarly, the various politicians in The Thick of It are more incompetent than corrupt, and though they can be petty, venal, arse-covering self-promoters, it is rare for them to do anything more serious than screw each other over.
    • Possibly the reason they don't do anything worse is because they're terrified of what Malcolm Tucker would do if any real political sleaze found its way into the papers.
  • Londo in Babylon 5 is a more sympathetic take on this, being a Tragic Villain with redeeming traits, rather than just a villain.
  • Mayor Arthur "Artie" Worth in the Black Scorpion. His crooked actions result in the Origin Story for several Supervillains. When the title character asks who would benefit from his death, her colleges give a long list of people.
  • Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman. In fact, every politician in The New Statesman with the possible exceptions of Sir Stephen Baxter and Bob Crippen.
  • Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • The Ethics Commissioner of all people in an episode of Dan for Mayor.
  • Almost every politician on Boardwalk Empire would qualify.
  • Senator Clay Davis of The Wire engages in much fraud and bribery over the course of the series and associates with known drug dealers, and for bonus hypocrisy claims he's using money defrauded from charitable organisations to help impoverished citizens in his district. According to David Simon, he's based on several real life Maryland politicians.
  • Mayor Hernandez (George Lopez) on Reno 911! definitely qualifies; his infractions include drug use and adultery.

Manga and Anime

  • The seinen manga Akumetsu is rife with these guys, who the title character has taken it upon himself to eliminate.

Theatre

  • Senator Titus Savage in The Curious Savage. When a character marvels that he keeps getting sent to Washington by the voters, his mother says it's common sense: "It's the only way to keep him out of the state."

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Mayor Quimby is a very good example of this.
    • As is Senator Mendoza. No, not that Senator Mendoza.
  • As shown in the episode The Voting of the Doomed, Zim is definitely a Sleazy Politician when it comes to winning the class president election.
  • Futurama has Richard Nixon's head.
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