The decade's most bizarre political moments

When it comes to politics, the 2010s have been a very strange decade. Seriously, have you read the news lately? These days, norms are thrown out the window with wild abandon. Institutions are chipped away at. Weird stuff happens so frequently it doesn't seem weird anymore. And, as the 2010s have gone on — particularly in the United States, but also in other parts of the world — the political scene has only gotten angrier, freakier, and increasingly polarized. It's genuinely scary stuff. 

That said, some disclaimers about what's ahead: while every year is filled with truly horrific events, all of which are the direct impact of political decisions, this article won't aim to record the most inhumane, traumatizing, or problematic instances of the decade. Instead, the goal here is to pinpoint the moments that were so bizarre and unexpected that, when they happened, you had to reread the headline to make it wasn't from a satirical site. Ready to relive the decade?

A reality TV star, with no political experience, announces his bid for U.S. president ... and wins

Okay, forget what you know today about Donald Trump, and reread that headline. Think about it.  A billionaire reality show guy, with zero political experience, trying to become president? Yeah, right. That sounds more like a dark comedy film than real life.  

But it happened. It really did. And, whatever one's thoughts on Trumpism might be, many people thought that on the day Trump first stepped off that escalator in 2015, as described by CNN, his entire campaign seemed like it was either a practical joke, or an unusual promotion for the next season of The Apprentice. Trump's apocalyptic tone, strange speaking style, racist dog-whistles, and overblown celebrity ego — from day one, he described himself as the "most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far," — seemed destined to make him a punchline in some stand-up comedian's set, not a chapter in the history books. To much of America, it seemed obvious that he was going to lose.

That all changed on November 8th, 2016, when Trump did lose the popular vote ... but, in a bizarre twist, won the electoral college, as explained by Politifact. This granted him the presidency, and as PBS points out, early speculation that his White House tenure might be more traditionally "presidential" than his campaign has been proven wrong, time and again. Regardless of one's political stripes, the post-Trump era has been the most bizarre period in U.S. political history, and it all started here.

#PigGate was ... uncomfortable, to say the least

Meanwhile, over in the U.K., the mid-2010s involved a really weird scandal that ... no, not Brexit. This one involved the British prime minister and a pig. Sound familiar?

This isn't about the Black Mirror episode, though the similarities did garner enough attention that series creator Charlie Brooker commented on it. Rather, the real life #PigGate happened in 2015, according to Vox, when a British tabloid reprinted an excerpt from an unauthorized biography of Prime Minister David Cameron, alleging that the politician had ... uh ... inserted a certain body part into the mouth of a pig carcass, at some time during his time in the all-male, Oxford University secret society known as the Piers Gaveston Society. 

If this did occur, it was likely some sort of initiation ritual. Did it, though? Not if you ask Cameron, according to the Independent, who referred to the account as being "false and ludicrous." Furthermore, it's worth pointing out that the story's source, The Daily Mail, is not credible, so it's entirely possible that the hog incident was completely made up. That said, this freaky event wouldn't be totally abnormal for the Piers Gaveston Society, a group that often contains future upper class British political leaders, and the scandal did gain enough mainstream media attention to spawn a hashtag. So, regardless of whether the incident happened or not, it certainly made 2015 into an even weirder year than it already was. 

The great 'mystery' of Covfefe

All across the world, people lay in bed, half-asleep, and browse social media. Sometimes, they even start typing something, just to doze off mid-sentence. That said, it's one thing to do this if you're a regular person, and a whole other ballgame if you're president of the United States, meaning your every tweet has the ability to launch wars or impact the stock market. Unfortunately, on the night of May 31st, 2017, at the late hour of 12:06 AM, Donald Trump began tweeting a now-infamous message, according to the Atlantic: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe" ... and, evidently, fell asleep at the wheel, or more accurately, the phone. 

What does "covfefe" mean? Nothing, obviously. It's just a typo of "coverage."

Typos are a human failure. Everyone's pretty understanding of them, because everyone makes their own. Bizarrely enough, though, Trump refused to acknowledge his obvious mistake, and instead doubled down on his covfefe-ness. Six hours after the tweet was posted (and after an entire night of sarcastic replies), Trump deleted it, according to USA Today, replacing it with the message, "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!" This caused the whole covfefe conversation to blow up to insane levels, all over TV, reaching its apex when White House press secretary Sean Spicer rather disingenuously told reporters that, "No, I think the president and a small group of people knew exactly what he meant." 

Yeah, right, because he meant to write coverage. Duh.

The long, tangled, increasingly weird Anthony Weiner saga

The story of Anthony Weiner's rise, fall, and total collapse is the sort of mess that could've only happened in the 2010s. One detail you might've forgotten by now, as BuzzFeed recollects, is that at the beginning of this decade, Weiner was a rising congressional star. His speeches went viral. His lavish wedding drew headlines. Everyone was always awaiting his next big achievement. And then ... in May of 2011, everything changed, when Weiner's Twitter account accidentally posted a revealing photo of his you-know-what. Big oops. The internet responded, and within days, it became apparent that Weiner was "sexting" images of himself to multiple women — remember, the politician was married and cheating — eventually leading him to apologize for his cheating at a New York press conference. Even bigger oops. He resigned from Congress. 

This seemed like the end of the story, but a few years later, Weiner tried to mount a political comeback by running for NYC mayor, telling the public that "I've also learned some tough lessons." Not really, though. Soon enough, new sexting evidence emerged, showing that Weiner had continued his online affairs the entire time, under the pseudonym of Carlos Danger. This sunk his political future, and heralded a new low point on the horizon: in September of 2016, the former lawmaker was under investigation for having had sexually explicit communication with a minor, a charge for which he was eventually tried, found guilty, and sentenced to 18 months of prison. 

Mitt Romney boxes Evander Holyfield

Yeah ... this really happened, as the Guardian reports. It was for a good cause, though, weird as it all might look.

See, Mitt Romney's son and wife are both involved with a nonprofit charity organization, Charity Vision International, which provides surgeries to heal the eyes of people who are blind. Back in 2015, according to CNN, the Romney family wanted to raise $1 million for the cause (enough to cover 40,000 surgeries), and evidently, someone happened upon the idea that a good way to sell tickets would be to have a former U.S. presidential candidate go toe-to-toe with a champion boxer. Evander Holyfield was game, and he even helped the now-Utah senator train for the match at the Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym. When the fight began, Romney emerged from the sidelines in a red robe, as "I Will Survive" blasted over the speakers, and tangled with Holyfield for two rounds before calling it a day. Obviously, it wasn't a rough match, and Holyfield took it extremely easy on his opponent, but he gave Romney credit for giving it his all. 

So hey, charity is good, and if this earned money for people in need, then that's a good thing. However, "Romney boxes Holyfield" wasn't the sort of headline anyone would have anticipated during the 2012 elections, back before politics became the world's most traumatizing reality show. 

Campaign funds, Donald Trump, and Stormy Daniels

Oh, man. Where to start? While this sort of White House reality show scandal has become "normal" now, think about this: if you were to travel back in time to, say, 2005, and warned your past self that the late 2010s would be filled with headlines about the U.S. president having an affair with an X-rated film star, then allegedly paying her with campaign funds to stay mum, would your innocent past self would ever believe it? Nah, definitely not. 

However, as Vox explains, the Stormy Daniels saga was all-too-real, and only grew weirder with time. In essence, Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — claims that Trump seduced her just a few months after the birth of his son Barron, and that she had consensual sex with him, with Trump repeatedly suggesting that he was going to make her a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. Long story short, Daniels first tried to spill her story to the media in 2011, then again in 2016, which led to Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, paying her $130,000 to stay quiet. Now, outside of the ethical problems here, why does this matter? The key element isn't the sexual details, as the BBC points out, but rather, the fact that Cohen's payment to Daniels could be considered an illegal contribution to Trump's campaign, for the purpose of influencing the election. 

So far, Trump's team continues to deny the affair occurred, but there's no hiding the $130,000 that did get paid out. 

Labour councillor's 'real' mother was a 9ft green alien

Now for something a bit less disturbing, and more on the wacky side of things. Depending on your outlook, of course.

In 2012, as reported by the Guardian, a U.K. Labour Councillor from Whitby named Simon Parkes opened up about his belief that his true mother was a nine foot tall, telepathic, green-skinned extraterrestrial. Cool beans, man. As Parkes tells it, this alien woman first invited him onto her UFO when he was just 11-years-old, whereupon a deal between both planets was struck, thereby rendering Parkes a very, very important figure in intergalactic history. Now, he only spoke out about this stuff after being elected, of course, and while he amusingly noted that his alien friends with were more practical than the people at town hall — zing! — he also brushed off the back chatter about his experiences, telling the press that, "It's a personal matter and it doesn't affect my work. I'm more interested in fixing someone's leaking roof or potholes. People don't want me to talk about aliens."

Fair enough. Things have changed, though, and these days, Parkes' website only briefly mentions his political career, preferring to focus on his lifelong contact with aliens, reptilians, demonic possession, mantis beings, the Illuminati, and so on. 

Toronto's mayor admits to using crack cocaine

Probably the majority of elected politicians you see condemning drug use are guilty of using some illicit substances in their youth. It's not every day when you find out that your elected leader is currently smoking crack cocaine, though. This was the unusual crisis faced by the citizens of Toronto in 2013, as described by the Guardian, when a video emerged showing mayor Rob Ford using the drug. 

For Ford, this was the latest in a series of PR disasters involving substance abuse, as an increasing number of Canadians were calling on him to resign in light of his many embarrassing drunken episodes. That said, Ford definitely didn't help his case when, upon being asked about the crack smoking, his response was that he'd probably tried it in one of his self-proclaimed "drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago." Following this, Toronto's dirty laundry went all over the news, in a big way. Ford refused to resign, though he did face up to his addiction problems in 2014 and went to rehab, according to CBC. His brief bid for reelection ended when he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer, according to the Guardian, which took his life two years later.  

Vermin Love Supreme protests for the Right to Pony

Every time a new presidential election comes around, the world once again falls in love with Vermin Supreme, the boot-hatted old wizard of New England who glitter-bombs homophobic politicians, argues for the institution of a pony-based economy, and (satirically) wants to impose harsh penalties upon anyone who doesn't practice proper dental hygiene. Perhaps Supreme's most outlandish moment happened in 2017, as explained by the Concord Monitor, when he applied for a permit to bring two ponies to a planned "protest" he wanted to mount outside a local New Hampshire bookstore, wherein Hillary Clinton was scheduled to sign copies of her memoir What Happened. When the city of Concord offered to issue the permit to Supreme on a different day, the wizard fought back with a lawsuit, arguing that denying his ponies on his desired date was engaging "in a direct attack on to Mr. Supreme's long standing political platform ... wherein he advocates for the socialized distribution of equine companions to every American."

Believe it or not, NHPR reports that he won the suit, though he had to pay $75 for "pony parking." And thus, on the day of Clinton's book signing, visitors walked through Vermin Supreme's pony protest, according to the Nashua Telegraph. For the record, there is a clever satirical element to Vermin's whole equine charade: Clinton's book contains a passage trying to equation universal healthcare with Supreme's free pony policy, a comparison that irritated many on the left, presumably including the wizard himself. 

The orb speaketh

It's one thing when three insanely wealthy world leaders (each known for having authoritarian impulses, according to their critics) all meet. It's quite another when that meeting involves all of them going into a dark room, and simultaneously placing their hands upon a mysterious glowing orb, resulting in an unforgettable image that makes them look like the ultimate gathering of cosmic super villains. Looks like the Legion of Doom is real, folks. 

Okay, but on a more serious note: This "orb," as you might remember, was actually an illuminated globe which the three politicians — U.S. President Donald Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud —  touched at once, in order to activate the brand new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, according to CNN, in May of 2017. This facility was built to be a massive counter-terrorism structure with giant screens constantly monitoring and displaying current terrorist activity. According to the New York Times, the three billionaires kept their hands on the orb for nearly two minutes, as if locked into a black magic blood oath, thus allowing for dozens of photographs that spawned thousands of memes. 

In reality, the orb didn't have any dark powers. It was just a ball with lights inside it. Still, this was a weird moment. 

A crowd size argument leads to 'alternative facts'

Listen, guys. When George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its vivid descriptions of newspeak, reality control, and unchecked authoritarianism, he did it as a warning, not a blueprint for future governments to follow. However, one of the most uncomfortable examples of newspeak to date arrived in 2017 from the mouth of, Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Donald Trump.

Now, to trace it back: the hubbub started due to a general dispute about the size of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration crowd. Basically, real photographic evidence demonstrated that the audience was a lot smaller than the one who attended Barack Obama's inauguration in 2008, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer nonetheless proceeded to pointlessly bluff to reporters, by stating it was, in his words, "The largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe" (for the record, according to Time Magazine, Spicer now regrets this comment). Following this nonsense, Kellyanne Conway ramped it up a notch on TV, according to CNN, claiming Spicer's comments weren't lies, but "alternative facts." 

Sorry, come again? To make matters worse, Conway used the phrase a second time, even saying that it was her job to go on TV and put alternative facts out there. Now, for those confused about what "alternative facts" could possibly mean, sometimes it's best to just crack open the ol' dictionary, and Dictionary.com defines the phrase as meaning "falsehoods, untruths, delusions." Sorry, Kelly, but your quote isn't going to age well.