Best Politician (2011)

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

We are quite certain that Jack Kennedy is rolling around in his grave knowing that Jon Kyl — bedrock of the far right, champion of all things conservative — now occupies his old Senate office on Capitol Hill. But even JFK would have to admit that Kyl's a hell of a politician. Earlier this year, Kyl stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and announced that well over 90 percent of the work Planned Parenthood does is directly related to terminating pregnancies.Turns out, that number is closer to 3 percent. That didn't faze Kyl. Instead of apologizing or having the good grace to look embarrassed, he simply issued a statement explaining his was not meant to be a factual statement. Oh. Comments like that can be career-enders, but not for a guy like Kyl, who sailed right past it and landed himself a spot on the debt supercommittee this summer. For years, no one heard much from Jon Kyl — the gray, angular guy stood in the shadow of his colorful angry Senate colleague John McCain. As the story goes, McCain kept his foot on Kyl's throat, promising the junior senator he could take the spotlight once McCain was elected president, assuming Kyl was a good boy and helped on McCain's campaigns (which he did). Whoopsie — McCain never did become president, did he? Never mind. Kyl never has made a big splash here in Arizona (wait, neither has McCain), but he stayed busy in the shadows, building clout in Washington, where, for a guy like Jon Kyl, it really matters. (Pesky constituents!) Today, Kyl is the minority whip in the Senate, considered one of that body's big decision-makers. He's done well for himself. And we have a feeling he's about to do even better. The true test of his political abilities will come when we see what sort of plum job Jon Kyl lands when he leaves office in 2013.


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