When we heard the word “politician”, most of us probably think of adjectives like “dull”, “boring”, and “hypocrites”. The one we probably never think of is “badass”. After all, most congressmen are just lazy rich guys, right?
But it seems not every politician got that memo. Across the US, Europe, South America, and the Middle East, there are plenty of lawmakers whose career seems to come a distant second to acting like a total badass.
10. British MP Punches Protester
For most of the world, the term “British politician” probably conjures images of pasty guys in bowler hats, and possibly Hugh Grant in Love Actually. What it probably doesn’t conjure is the image of guys in suits acting like soccer hooligans.
Well, meet one of those guys: John Prescott, former Deputy Prime Minister. In 2001, the portly politico was visiting Wales when a shaggy-haired protester decided to launch an egg right into his face. What followed next was a lesson in brawling, British style. Prescott punched the man in the jaw, tried to wrestle him to the ground, and had to be held off by several men pinning him to a wall. Once the bloodlust had died down, he then marched on to a campaign meeting and delivered his speech like nothing had happened – because in Britain they still elect goddamn men.
9. Congressman Fights off Knife-Wielding Attacker
Adam Kinzinger has the possibly unique distinction of being both a GOP congressman and the closest human equivalent to Charles Bronson in Deathwish. How so? Well, a few years back, Kinzinger found himself in a tense situation. Outside a bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a local maniac suddenly decided to cut a woman’s throat. Seeing the woman with blood pouring down her front and the madman wielding a very sharp knife, Kinzinger did what any of us would have done and ran for his life.
Just kidding. He launched himself straight at the guy and wrestled him to the floor, disarming him and saving the woman’s life. Later he casually admitted that he’d expected “to get stabbed in the process,” but leapt in anyway. Hey, that’s one way to get votes.
8. Rahm Emanuel Channels Tony Soprano (Repeatedly)
If you’ve heard the name Rahm Emanuel, you already know this going to be crazy. The Democrat’s answer to mobster-politician Chris Christie (only minus the current scandal), Emanuel has made a name for himself by basically being the guy you don’t want to cross. He once famously sent a dead fish to a pollster, echoing the “Luco Brasi sleeps with the fishes” scene in the Godfather. Another time he shouted a string of expletives at the freakin’ British Prime Minister.
But nothing compares to the infamous “knife story.” Apparently, Emanuel was discussing “enemies” of the Democratic campaign with some cohorts, when the name of a guy he truly hated came up. Allegedly, Emanuel reacted to the guy’s name by picking up a knife, screaming “dead!” and plunging it into the table. He then began chanting the names of all the Dem’s enemies, punctuating each with a scream of “dead!” and a stab of the knife. Seriously, it’s hard to tell whether this guy is just passionate, or if the Dems have accidentally elected Joe Pesci.
7. The Italian Parliament Fistfight
We all have our triggers: certain words or topics that make us see red and want to lash out. For Italian MPs, those words are apparently “pension reform”. In 2011, the crumbling government of professional sleazebag Silvio Berlusconi was looking to slash the deficit through eliminating a pension scheme that allowed state employees to retire as young as 39. The government needed support from an allied party – lead by Mr. Bossi – that refused to give it.
In the heat of the moment, someone made a crack about Mr. Bossi’s wife. That was all the excuse the two parties needed. Two MPs immediately reacted by launching fist-first at one another, kicking off a minor brawl that shut down parliament for several minutes. Political opponents gripped each other by the throats and tried to strangle each other. Others rushed to intervene. The whole thing turned into a total farce, all thanks to a single ill-timed “your mom” joke.
6. Newark’s Mayor Runs into a Burning Building
One night in 2012, Newark Mayor Cory Booker returned home from giving a speech to discover his neighbor’s house was on fire. The fire service was on their way, but there was someone trapped on the second floor. Booker took one look at the unfolding blaze and evidently decided “not in my town”.
Entering the flaming building, he ran upstairs to locate the woman. By the time he found her the flames were so high that getting out was practically impossible. According to Booker, he toyed with the idea of leaping from the window Die Hard–style, before managing to find another way downstairs. On the ground floor, he and the woman he’d just saved from certain death collapsed in a safe are and were subsequently rescued by the fire crew.
Although he’d suffered second-degree burns in the incident, Booker shrugged the whole thing off, discharging himself from hospital in time for a press conference.
5. The Bolivian Parliament’s Mega-Brawl
With a few exceptions, politics in the US and UK tends to involve bland people saying very bland things in pre-prepared sound-bites. It’s a system that leads to voter disengagement and probably makes most of us wish our representatives would show some passion. On the other hand, that fierce passion has its own problems, as Bolivia found out in 2007 when its parliament started possibly the biggest brawl in history.
The causes are way too complicated and way too country-specific for us to go into here, so we’ll just urge you to watch the video below instead. What started as a routine day at work soon devolved into a brawl that involved the entire parliament. Fistfights erupted across the floor. People began kicking each other. Others hurled objects or used them to club each other round the head. Others leapt onto desks, as if about to attempt a WWE-style dive into the mayhem. Eventually the military subdued the battle, but not before the great and good of Bolivia gave WrestleMania fans a run for their money.
4. The South Korean Tear Gas Incident
Starting a government-wide punch-up is one thing, but sometimes you have to do something really drastic to make your point. Such was a case with South Korean MP Kim Sun-dong. Desperate to stop his country doing a controversial trade deal with the US, he decided there was only one surefire way of stopping the vote: by opening a tear gas canister in the center of Parliament.
On November 22nd 2011, Kim launched a kind of DIY terrorist attack on himself and his colleagues, filling the building with eye-burning gas. As he was dragged away by security, Kim further bolstered his badass/lunatic credentials by screaming “bastards!” at the ruling party and continuing to protest the trade deal. Ultimately, his actions had no impact but still — teargasing yourself on principle is nothing if not dedicated.
3. Anything Rob Ford Has Ever Done
When a politician can admit to smoking crack, bulldoze through his councilors, knocking them to the floor, turn up roaring drunk at official events and try to start a fight, repeatedly threaten to punch the general public, and still keep his job, you know you’re dealing with a totally insane badass. As anyone who’s watched the news lately already knows, Rob Ford is that badass.
He might ultimately badass himself out of a job, but it’s still extremely refreshing to see a politician – a Canadian politician, at that – acting like a real, don’t-give-a-crap human being instead of some robot from the planet Bland? You bet it is.
2. The Jordanian Parliament Kalashnikov Debate
Instigating a mega brawl or setting off teargas might seem like an extreme reaction to a political debate, but neither of them have anything on what the Jordanian Parliament has previously seen.
In 2013, a heated discussion ended with an MP drawing an AK-47 and attempting to mow down his opponent. The insanity started when Talal Al Sharif tried to throw his shoe at Qusay Dmeisi and was forcibly held back by colleagues. Rather than leaving to get some fresh air and try to calm down, he instead left the chamber, grabbed a Kalashnikov and tried to shoot Dmeisi from the corridor. Luckily for Dmeisi, the Jordan authorities tend to frown on their representatives re-enacting Scarface’s last stand, and Al Sharif was quickly arrested.
1. Allende’s Last Stand
The death of President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 was one of the most tragic moments in Chilean history. Ushering in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, it remains a bleak memory for the 40,000+ tortured or disappeared by the regime.
However, Allende didn’t go quietly. A committed Marxist who had been elected democratically, he defended the will of the people to the very end. And, in doing so, he proved himself one of the biggest badasses in history. On the morning of the coup, Allende was offered safe passage out the country. Instead, he chose to remain in La Mondea (the Chilean White House). When it became clear the plotters weren’t going to be able to get past his guard, they gave Allende an ultimatum: leave La Mondea or we’ll bomb it into oblivion.
Allende chose to stay. As missile after missile pounded into the palace, Allende tooled himself up with an AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro, and proceeded to unleash hell on Pinochet’s military thugs. With the building burning around him and no one but a handful of guards to watch his back, this timid doctor from the sticks managed to hold off the combined might of the Navy, Army, and Airforce for an entire day.
When he finally committed suicide in the flaming ruins of his office, there was barely a wall of the building left standing. Rather than flee the country in the face of a murderous coup, he’d given his life to defend the palace, broadcasting messages of support to his supporters the entire time. Now that’s the last stand of a bona-fide political badass.