Political Blunders of the Year
Dec. 25, 2006 — -- Foot-in-mouth disease and gaffes on the campaign trail are nothing new when it comes to politicians caught on tape. Thanks to a year largely defined by user-generated content, some of 2006's best political flubs stayed in the spotlight, giving the public at large the opportunity to see and hear the country's elected officials in their own words.
New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin, during a City Hall tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. last January, committed one of the year's earliest flubs when he called on the African-American community to rebuild a "chocolate New Orleans" in the post-Katrina landscape.
"This city will be chocolate at the end of the day," Nagin said, "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way; it wouldn't be New Orleans."
Nagin's remarks irritated many of the city's residents. One Web site -- imnotchocolate.com -- went as far as to sell T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers with Nagin in a top hat and the caption "Willy Nagin and the Chocolate Factory."
Later that week Nagin apologized for seeming divisive and tried to clarify his comments in an extended metaphor.
"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," he said. "New Orleans was a chocolate city before Katrina. It is going to be a chocolate city after. How is that divisive? It is white and black working together, coming together and making something special."
Many thought the remarks would cost Nagin his re-election, but they didn't. His second term as mayor of New Orleans began in June 2006.
It was a late night comedian's dream come true. On Feb. 11, Vice President Dick Cheney, on a weekend quail hunt at a South Texas ranch, accidentally shot and wounded campaign contributor Harry Whittington. Cheney's office didn't disclose the incident till the ranch owners told a Corpus Christi, Texas, newspaper about it.
Whittington was sprayed with bullets across his neck, face and chest, and had a minor heart attack when a piece of the birdshot moved to his heart.
The week that followed was an exercise in damage control for the vice president's office as every move he made was scrutinized by a press corps and public that couldn't believe the headlines.
In a Fox News interview later that week, a subdued Cheney described the incident as one of the worst days of his life.
"The image of him falling is something I'll never, never be able to get out of my mind," Cheney said. "I fired and there's Harry falling and it was, I have to say, one of the worst days in my life."