When Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) first heard Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," he must have taken the song to heart.
Cohen, 63, attended a Memphis soul music commemoration event at the White House this week and tweeted at Lauper, who performed there: "@cyndilauper great night,couldn't believe how hot u were.see you again next Tuesday.try a little tenderness. http://t.co/zz4Orccryf
But Cohen appeared to have a "Change of Heart" and he deleted the tweet. That sparked rampant questions about his relationship with Lauper. The congressman, who is unmarried, later explained that he was simply trying to teach the news media a lesson.
"It was all a ruse," Cohen told the Daily Beast in an interview on Friday. "I knew by deleting it they would run it, it would give it news, give it life. That was the hook."
He added at a press conference later in the day that he doesn't care that his thoughts on Lauper's looks went public. "Birds do it, bees do it, even ordinary fleas do it," he said.
OK, then congressman.
You could say that Cohen's tweet -- and the reaction to it -- is stupid and trivial, especially in the context of other political news like immigration, gun control, and the looming budget fight. But this is hardly the first time a dumb tweet by a politician caused a stir.
We've compiled a Political Twitter Hall of Fame, recognizing politicians' unique contributions to the social media service (positive and negative).
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)
Hello again, Congressman!
Cohen may have been looking to teach the media a lesson with his Lauper "ruse" because of another Twitter incident from earlier this year.
On the night of the State of the Union address in February, Cohen tweeted
a message that contained the acronym "Ilu" ("I love you") at a 24-year-old woman. The tweets were deleted, but they did not go unnoticed. Was Cohen dating a much-younger woman? Turns out that was far from the case.
Cohen later admitted
that he sent the tweets to his daughter, whom he had only discovered three years ago and their relationship was not public knowledge.
The congressman expressed loathing at the firestorm surrounding his tweets.
"My daughter had to experience that," he said in an interview. "It's awful. Bloggers and people saying nasty things. It's disgusting."
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.)
It's extremely rare that a lawmaker loses his job because of Twitter, but no one has ever accused Anthony Weiner of being an unexceptional human being.
In 2011, Weiner emailed, Facebook messaged, and tweeted a plethora of sexually suggestive notes and pictures
to a variety of women from across the country. After the first lewd photo -- sent to a female college student in Seattle -- went public, Weiner denied he sent the image.
Then additional images and messages were published, and he admitted he had lied to his family and constituents about his online hijinks. Weiner sent several of the messages shortly after he was married to former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Ten days after he copped to his behavior, he resigned
from Congress under pressure from Democratic leaders.
Recently, things have started to look up for Weiner. He did some image rehab with a profile in the New York Times Magazine
, in which he acknowledged he's considering a run for New York City mayor this year.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
The 79-year-old senator's tweets are less scandalous and actually veer toward entertaining. That is unless you're a PETA member or fan of the spelling bee.
Here's a dispatch from a highway
in his home state of Iowa from last October: "Fred and I hit a deer on highway 136 south of Dyersville. After I pulled fender rubbing on tire we continued to farm. Assume deer dead."
And there is his frequent haranguing of the History Channel
for getting away from its core mission. Here's one comment from last June: "I've turned to history. Channel. Several times this wkend always Pawn Shop. No history. Change nAme of channel to no history.
Of course, there was this classic
from all the way back in April 2009: "Work on farm Fri. Burning piles of brush WindyFire got out of control. Thank God for good naber He help get undr control PantsBurnLegWound
Happy fourth anniversary, PantsBurnLegWound!
Unfortunately, the heydey of Chuck Grassley's Twitter might be over. He told BuzzFeed
in March he's adopted a more policy-focused approach on Twitter because of some of the hate and trolling he has received.
Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)
Anthony Weiner may be a case study in why lawmakers shouldn't handle their own Twitter accounts. But Chris Dodd just might be the opposite.
In November 2010, a bizarre message
appeared on the then-retiring senator's account: "U love torturing me with this s***."
Dodd's account followed up with a message reading that "the last tweet was not from Chris Dodd." In a statement, his office blamed the message on a "technical mistake."
Note to staffers: It's not just politicians who can screw up their official Twitter accounts.
A lot of stupid stuff got tweeted during the 2012 election, but this one may have taken the cake.
In the middle of Superstorm Sandy, the real estate mogul and birther impresario tweeted his thoughts
on the political implications of the storm, which pummeled the Eastern seaboard.
"Hurricane is good luck for Obama again- he will buy the election by handing out billions of dollars."
Smart take, Donald.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.)
In 2009, a congressional delegation traveled to Iraq. The trip was supposed to be kept secret
for security purposes, but Twitter got in the way.
Some news outlets had found out about the trip, but agreed to keep the news embargoed until the lawmakers left.
Then Hoekstra stepped in. The former chairman of the House intelligence committee (!), tweeted
once they touched down: "Just landed in Baghdad. I believe it may be first time I've had bb service in Iraq. 11th trip here."
Palin literally changed the English language using her Twitter account.
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee took to Twitter in 2010 to register her disapproval of a plan to construct an Islamic center at Ground Zero (remember that?). Here's what she wrote
: "Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."
Palin deleted the tweet and replaced it with a new one, but not before the internet could take notice.
The tweet received such wide recognition that the New Oxford American Dictionary named "refudiate" the 2010 word of the year
So congrats, or something.
Honorable mentions: John McCain and Snooki bond on Twitter over tanning taxes, Eva Longoria retweets racially-charged remark at Mitt Romney, initially denies it, then apologizes.