The trusty online Urban Dictionary defines "douchiest" as "to be the ultimate example of a douche" -- but in 2014 we had a surplus of such ultimate examples in Arizona.
From the ineffective governor who left the state with its finances in shambles, to average citizens whose stupidity lifted them into the headlines, these 10 Arizonans helped make the state the laughingstock most of the country thinks it is.
It was tough to narrow this down to 10, so if you feel strongly that we missed your favorite douche, please share your nominations in the comment section.
Here are the winners:
10.) Rex Chapman, ex-NBA player
Rex Everett Chapman describes himself on Twitter as, "a KY homebred. The original #3, McDonald's HS All-Am, UKBB All-Am, 12-yr NBA'er, NBA exec, TV BBall analyst, father, & thoroughbred enthusiast." Chapman undoubtedly made many millions during his career, which included a highly praised stint as a Phoenix Suns player. Yet Chapman's life has apparently sunk low.
In September, he was arrested following a Apple-Store-shoplifting investigation by Scottsdale police. Cops say Chapman scammed the store for thousands in electronic goods, pretending to purchase the items before selling them at a pawn store. He hasn't yet been charged with a crime, court records show. But judging by the police report, he's blown his basketball fortune and is suffering from a bout of seriously impaired judgment.
9.) John Huppenthal
John Huppenthal is a longtime east Valley lawmaker, and most recently the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction. It was a colossal failure on his part to lose his bid for reelection in the GOP primary against Diane Douglas, who critics claim isn't qualified for the post. But Huppenthal earned every negative vote with his social-media sock-puppet stunt.
In true cowardly fashion, the elected official -- using a handle of "Falcon9" -- took to the comment sections of local blogs to write, among other things, how people on welfare were "lazy pigs" and that Mexican-restaurant menus should be written only in English. Most shamefully of all, though, was how Huppenthal broke down and cried at a news conference after he'd been caught, showing the public he's a complete wuss.
8.) Jodi Arias
Former waitress Jodi Arias traveled to Mesa in June 2008 to visit her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. After having sex with him, she shot him, stabbed and sliced him with a knife more than two dozen times, then slit his throat literally from ear to ear.
A jury convicted her of first-degree murder in May 2013. Yet there she is, still in the news every week and not in prison. Her penalty-phase trial, in which a new jury will decide whether she goes to the execution chamber or to prison, is now stuck on the mostly irrelevant question (to Arias' guilt or innocence, anyway) of whether Mesa police deleted pornography from Alexander's computer while it was in evidence. State taxpayers have already shelled out more than $2.7 million for Arias' defense. With luck, this egocentric killer's reality show may wrap up sometime in 2015. But even if she gets the death penalty it'll take a while to carry out -- meaning the public may hear from Jodi Arias for many years to come.
7.) Brian Yazzie
Chandler Officer David Payne, 37, served in Iraq as a combat medic and had a passion for his work as a motorcycle officer. He was killed last year because a Tempe alcoholic with a suspended license couldn't restrain himself from driving. Tragically, Payne was the second Chandler motorcycle officer to die that week: Officer Bryant Holmes had been driving his personal motorcycle to work when a Jeep ran a red light and struck him.
Brian Yazzie apparently didn't care about other drivers, himself, or his 11-month-old kid (who was in the car with him), when he was driving in Chandler at about 12:30 a.m. that morning with a BAC of about .29. His license had been suspended in 2010 for drunk driving. He ran into the back of Payne's motorcycle as the officer sat at a red light. Yazzie's being prosecuted on a raft of felony charges, including second-degree murder.
6.) Members of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity
Last Martin Luther King Jr. Day, members and associates of Arizona State University's Tau Kappa Epsilon hosted a very special party to commemorate the African-American leader. They dressed up as stereotypical gang-bangers and served cocktails from watermelon cups. For those who missed it, the frat posted several pictures of their "MLK Black Party" scene on social media -- which turned out to be the worst decision of all. The nationwide backlash impugned not only their reputations, but all of Arizona's.
5.) Green Acre Dog Boarding Caretakers
These four suspects had one simple job at the Green Acre Dog Boarding facility in Gilbert: Don't let the clients' pets die. Maleisa Hughes, Jesse Hughes, Austin Flake (son of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake) and Logan Flake failed miserably at the task. The bodies of more than 20 dogs were found in June at the facility; the animals had apparently suffocated in a small room without proper ventilation. Felony animal-abuse charges have been dropped against the four, (fraud charges remain against the Hugheses), but we'd be surprised if anyone trusted them around pets again.
4.) State Representative Steve Yarbrough
Yarbrough, R-Chandler, is the genius who last year brought Arizona SB 1062, the pro-discrimination bill that was later denounced by its other supporters. Opponents claimed the bill was designed to legalize discrimination of gays. Supporters didn't really have a good answer for that criticism, probably because it was valid.
The bill would have allowed business owners who get sued for discrimination to claim their religious beliefs have been "burdened." More than 80 firms, apparently worried about economic retribution against the state by non-bigots, lobbied Governor Brewer to veto the bill, which she did.
3.) Joe Arpaio
How could we leave him out of this list? Arpaio, halfway into his sixth term as Maricopa County Sheriff, has been neutered to an extent by federal court rulings. But it wouldn't be like Arpaio to give in. He's thwarting a federal monitor's investigation of potential corruption among human-smuggling deputies. At a pep talk for employees this year, he stood by as his chief deputy called U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow's racial-profiling ruling "ludicrous" and "crap." He's telling the U.S. Justice Department, which is suing him for profiling Hispanics, that their lawsuit is unnecessary and should be dropped because of the conditions imposed by Snow's order -- yet Arpaio's appealing Snow's order.
Even Brian Sands, one of Arpaio's former top aides who retired last year, says in a new book that Arpaio's an ineffective, publicity-hound of a leader who has damaged the Sheriff's Office. One minor incident alone proves Arpaio's douchiness: After admitting in a video released to the public that it was his fault for breaking his arm while walking on a downtown-Phoenix sidewalk last year, in November he filed a lawsuit against a building owner, blaming his mistake on "dangerous conditions" of the sidewalk.
2.) Shanesha Taylor
Taylor became an Internet sensation after being arrested for leaving her baby and toddler in a hot car while at a job interview in Scottsdale. The black, single mom's teary-eyed mug shot caused hundreds of suckers across the country to send money to a donation site set up by a woman Taylor didn't know.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, seeing that she'd raised $114,000 and had numerous supporters, decided to cut her a break. He'd defer felony child-abuse charges if she took about half of the money and put it in trust funds for her kids. Instead of taking her second chance, Taylor screwed herself and her kids over by blowing the money and failing to fund the trusts. The charges have been reinstated and prosecution is now underway.
1.) Jan Brewer
Arizona Republic columnist Rob Robb did an excellent job recently of explaining why Brewer deserves scorn. Robb pointed out in a December 9 column that "Fate had given her one very important task: Put state government on a sustainable financial footing." But after six years, she failed to do it.
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We couldn't agree more. Brewer, replaced yesterday by incoming Governor Doug Ducey, now has to live with her crappy legacy. She'll likely be most remembered for SB 1070, a divisive law that cost the state an untold fortune, a tax that expired before it could work for the long-term, a Medicaid expansion now facing a serious legal challenge, and a cash shortfall expected to grow from about $500 million this year to $1 billion next year.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.