. 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.
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. Compare the more outright and aggressively criminal Corrupt Politician
. See also Obstructive Bureaucrat
Compare Windbag Politician
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The seinen manga Akumetsu is rife with these guys, who the title character has taken it upon himself to eliminate.
- Ninamori's unseen father in FLCL is the mayor of Mabase, who cheated on his wife with one of his employees, who offers Ninamori a ride in episode 3 (and Ninamori calls her out in the manga).
- 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.
- Dreamkeepers Has Viscount Calah, who's easily manipulated, rarely gives straight answers (not even to his own daughter) and also a has an illegitimate daughter he's trying to hide from the world in order to prevent a scandal.
- 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 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. 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 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. Fortunately, his political career is derailed after he uses a child as a Human Shield to prevent Johnny from shooting him.
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).
- There's also Councilman Jeff Jamm, who is also very much for sale.
- 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 organizations 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.
- Both SECNAVs on JAG alternates between this and Reasonable Authority Figure.
- All of the mayors in Blue Bloods have a bit of sleaze attached to them though they also often have redeeming qualities and can be a Reasonable Authority Figure.
- 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."
- Snattle of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness desires governorship over Orre. A combination of Evil Feels Good, Deal with the Devil, and Jumping Off the Slippery Slope secure him a place as one of Cipher's admins.
- Every politician ever in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- In Move or Die, Wilma had an affair with the mayor, whom she was an intern for, and got caught by his wife.
- The ruling class of the Covenant in Halo are the Prophets, whose methods and intent mostly center around how to keep themselves in power and keep the rest of their empire in check, no matter what the cost or implication. This viewpoint is partly why the Sangheli race ends up defecting (the Prophets tried to kill them off).
- News ticker update from Plague Inc: "Politician makes polygraph machine explode".
- Dionne Crup of Precocious runs for class president on this platform. Her campaign quickly turns negative.
Roddy: ''My opponent is a soulless beast with malicious intentions!
Dionne: It's true!
- From Pibgorn's "A Demon's Nest of Sentiments":
Peculiar to any campaign for office is the practice among candidates of hurling dread accusations at their opponents. The practice has achieved such a degree of ordinariness, that the exercise of mudslinging is expected. It's a kind of etiquette, like good manners.
Each candidate, according to the other's advertised assertions, possesses not only the mendacity of Baron Munchausen and a concern for one's fellow citizens normally ascribed to Dracula; he is unrivaled in moral turpitude, avarice, misanthropy, corruption, criminality, cheating, stealing, child-starving, puppy-stomping, kitten-drowning and, on a grand scale, just plain old down-and-dirty psychopathy. Fundamentally, each candidate recognizes in his opponent a depravity of personal and professional conduct that not only would make him unfit for public office, but, in the real world, unsuited for anything better than maximum security—the very worst example of human sludge ever to have flushed from his sewer with the sinister desire to uphold, protect and defend the laws of the land.
In other words, there is no dungeon suited to confine such noisome evil. So we, naturally, vote for them. It's a reflex, just good manners.