The Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC starts today without notable snubs Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey or gay conservative group GOProud, but with these 7 famous crazies, who CPAC was glad to give a speaking slot to. In case there was any doubt that Christie was not invited for being too reasonable, take a look at who will be there:
1. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Ted Cruz has only been a senator for a few months, but he is already the senate's most controversial member. Nowhere was this more evident in his questioning of Chuck Hagel, in which Cruz made weirdly specific but entirely fabricated claims, a la Joe McCarthy that Hagel had to refute. For example, Cruz wanted to know if Hagel had received $200,000 transferred from Saudi Arabia or North Korea. He was also pretty sure that Hagel's nomination for defense secretary was widely celebrated in Iran. Cruz keeps finding ways to top himself. Just today he said that he is willing to shut down the government if Obamacare is not repealed. Good luck with that.
2. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association (NRA)
After the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT, the NRA did not release a statement for several days. When they finally did, it was in the form of a surreal speech from LaPierre, who declared that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." LaPierre lives in a video game world, where "bad guys" are lurking everywhere, their motives don't matter, they will attack at random, and the only way to be safe is to be in the presence of an armed good guy.
3. Sarah Palin, Former Governor of Alaska, 2008 VP Candidate
Palin should be happy to get a speaking spot at CPAC, seeing as she has done little but descend from prominence since the McCain campaign calculated that they could pick off a lot of disgruntled Hillary supporters from Obama by putting a woman on their ticket. The far right fell in love while 70% of America rolled its eyes. Since then, Palin quit as governor of Alaska, was frequently mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2012, had a stint as a Fox News contributor, and now she has to go further and further to remain relevant. She recently declared that the Obama Administration is "stockpiling bullets" in preparation for civil unrest. Not sure what that was based on, but it wasn't, y'know, fact.
4. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, 2012 Presidential Candidate
Perry, like Palin, arrived on the national scene to much fanfare, and then completely fell apart once the cameras were rolling. His "oops," when he couldn't remember the third federal department he would cut outright was the iconic moment of the Republican primaries, and he wasn't even one of the last four standing. In the past month, Perry has encouraged the Boy Scouts to continue to ban gays, worked to pass stricter restrictions on abortion in Texas, and gotten very worked up over the "release of criminal aliens into the Texas community" (referring to illegal immigrants being released from prison due to overcrowding).
5. Rick Santorum, Former Senator (R-Penn.), 2012 Presidential Candidate
Here is a bold prediction: Rick Santorum will break a longstanding GOP streak in 2016. Republicans tend to choose the second-place finisher of their last big election for their next nominee. This was true in Mitt Romney, John McCain, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush all graduated from runner up to nominee (to be fair, most would count Romney as a third place finisher in 2008 to McCain and Mike Huckabee). Santorum was the last to fall to Romney, and had he won Michigan (which was close), he would have had a real shot of stealing the nomination. This is in spite of his firm belief that contraception (contraception!) is "not okay." Recently he led a successful campaign against ratifying a U.N. treaty to support the disabled worldwide which was based on U.S. law--the Americans With Disabilities Act. His reasons had to do with unfounded paranoia about outlawing homeschooling. There is lots more crazy in Santorum's history, which you can find out through googling his name.
6. Donald Trump, Host of Celebrity Apprentice
The Donald decided he was an important person in national politics a few years ago, and the CPAC/Fox News part of the world agreed. After floating a presidential bid in 2012, Trump has stuck around as a Fox News contributor, and master of unintentional comedy as host of Celebrity Apprentice. No word on whether or not he's been convinced if Obama is an American just yet.
7. Allen West, Former U.S. Representative (R-Fla.)
Of all the crazy flying around at CPAC, there will be no greater source of crazy than Allen West. He has referred to members of the Progressive Caucus in the House as "communists." He said that the "democratic appetite for handouts" is "the most insidious form of slavery today." And, of course, he's compared the Democrats to the Nazis: "If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine."
Honorable mention for crazy folks who will also be at CPAC: Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan, who seems sane enough, but still seems confused about having lost the election (see: Ryan's budget).