Michele Bachmann's 6 most insane moments

From latter-day McCarthyism to dangerous pseudoscience, a look back on the outgoing Republican's greatest hits

Published January 5, 2015 1:30PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Jason Reed)
(Reuters/Jason Reed)

If you wake up tomorrow morning and feel a little bit less free, you won't be mistaken. As the 114th Congress begins, Michele Bachmann will no longer be a member of the House of Representatives, depriving the country of its foremost warrior against America-hating politicians, the totalitarian U.S. Census, and retardation-causing vaccines.

So it goes. Amid an investigation into her campaign finances, the Minnesota congresswoman opted not to seek a fifth term this year. And while she vows that she'll continue to play a role in America's political debate -- as a conservative commentator or even a 2016 White House candidate -- it's more likely than not that Bachmann's career as a public officeholder is finished.

Of course, backbench representatives step down all the time, usually with nary a single valedictory piece from a national outlet. But over the course of her eight years in the House, Bachmann established herself as one of the most incendiary and demagogic Republicans on the national stage. Below, Salon remembers some of the moments that made Bachmann Bachmann.

Investigate "anti-American" members of Congress

Few Americans had any idea who Bachmann was until an October 2008 appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews," during which she charged that then-Sen. and presidential candidate Barack Obama likely harbored "anti-American" views. Channeling her inner Joseph McCarthy, the freshman congresswoman also called for the media to "look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

Is the census a Trojan horse for totalitarianism?

In 2009, as the federal government prepared to carry out its decennial census, Bachmann took to Fox News to attack the census, connecting it to the internment of Japanese-Americans in the Second World War.

"Between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that's how the Japanese were rounded up and put into internment camps. I'm not saying that that's what the administration is planning to do," Bachmann said. "But I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against them to round them up in violation of their constitutional rights."

Look at the camera, Michele!

Unlike her first two terms in the House, when Democrats controlled the chamber, Bachmann entered her third term in 2011 as a member of a Republican majority. Emboldened by the victories of hard-right candidates, an assertive Tea Party challenged GOP graybeards, and in addition to the official Republican response to Obama's State of the Union, there was a Tea Party response, delivered by Bachmann. During her speech, Bachmann trained her focus on the camera recording her response for the Tea Party Express -- not the camera recording her speech for the rest of the country. The flub attracted late-night ridicule:

The Founding Fathers ended slavery!

Also in 2011, Bachmann sought to make the jump from the House to the White House -- and she kicked off her campaign with a bit of revisionist history.

Slavery may not have ended in the U.S. until the mid-19th century, but in early 2011, Tea Party historian Bachmann credited the nation's Founding Fathers with abolishing it.

"We know there was slavery that was still tolerated when the nation began. We know that was an evil and it was scourge and a blot and a stain upon our history. But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States," she said.

The HPV vaccine causes retardation

During the 2012 campaign, fellow Republicans attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a debate over his requirement that schoolgirls receive the vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer. In a "Today" show interview, Bachmann baselessly suggested that the vaccine could cause mental retardation, citing a woman she said she'd encountered after the debate:

Smearing Huma Abedin

In 2012, Bachmann waged a crusade against what she called the "deep penetration" of the U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood. Among those complicit in this infiltration, Bachmann alleged, was Huma Abedin, a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann's basis for the claim? In a 16-page letter, she pointed to a Brigham Young University law review article stating that an organization founded by Abedin's late father had provided "quiet but active support" to a non-governmental organization linked to the Brotherhood from the 1970s through the 1990s. Conveniently, Bachmann omitted portions of the law review article which went on to note that Abedin's father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, was a vocal supporter of religious and cultural pluralism -- hardly an exponent of Islamist radicalism.

h/t NBC, TPM

By Luke Brinker

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