TheDC’s top ten stories of 2011

TheDC’s Top Ten Stories of the Year

10. Chris Matthews officially went ’round the bend

It’s hard not to feel just a little bit sorry for Chris Matthews. The thrill up his leg is gone, and the poor man just doesn’t know what to do with himself. When he finally went thermonuclear in June and tried to blame former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife for his sexting disorder, we saw the rapid denouement of a tragicomedy that the MSNBC star had been writing week after week, all year long.

In his mind, Obama critics were “crackers.” Republican House leaders were birther “collaborators.” Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was “profoundly stupid” and just “like Moammar Gadhafi.” Conservative radio hosts harbored an “ethnic disdain” for the president. Newt Gingrich looked “like a car bomber.” The mere mention of “food stamps” was a racist overture. The GOP was full of “the Wahhabis of American government.” Rick Perry was “Bull Connor with a smile.”

President Obama, of course, was pure as driven snow. “Just tell us, commander,” Matthews would later implore. “Give us our orders.”

9. What’s worse than being unemployed? Working for Sheila Jackson Lee

As we discovered in March, Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has some unique eccentricities. Like demanding to be “treated like a queen.” And repeatedly addressing a staffer as “you stupid motherfucker.” And stopwatch-timing her aides as they physically ran from office to office, fetching her paperwork. And calling them in the middle of the night, demanding that they go to the pharmacy for her garlic supplements.

It’s almost enough to make Jackson Lee’s staff refer to her as “a lonely, miserable person” who is hated by all her colleagues. Almost sufficient to make more than one former aide call her a racist. And almost enough to generate a turnover of 39 staffers in a single year, including nine in just two months’ time.

Wait. Strike the word “almost.” Those things actually happened.

8. A State Department contract officer’s $52 million sweetheart deal

Hers was the marriage that wasn’t. Or something. A Daily Caller investigation found that State Department contract officer Kathleen McGrade steered $52 million in federal government contracts to Sterling Royale Group, a company that her husband and daughter secretly owned and operated.

Her husband, Brian Collinsworth, initially told TheDC that McGrade was not his wife. But his MySpace profile — how retro! — did him in, wedding photos and all. And a condominium security guard confirmed that the pair lived together.

State fired McGrade within hours, but stonewalled on the details of how she was able to get away with her alleged fraud for so long. Why delay the investigation? Possibly because, as TheDC reported, President Obama had not nominated anyone to lead the State Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Federal agents raided McGrade’s $543,000 Virginia home two months later, and IRS agents seized the house’s contents — including the Lexus in the garage — two weeks after that. Criminal cases are pending.