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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 45.0° F  Overcast
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Cheap Shots 2011: Person of the Year: Gov. Scott Walker
Our annual awards for bad behavior

It's impossible to come up with a single Cheap Shot award for Scott Walker, who managed to touch off a civil war in Wisconsin after being in office for little more than a month. Indeed, Walker is the recipient of a record-breaking number of Cheap Shot honors in 2011.

Coldest Fireside Chat: In the midst of the pandemonium he unleashed with his union-busting budget repair bill in February, Walker announced that he would give a televised "fireside chat." That phrase suggested he would try to calm freaked-out citizens, à la President Franklin Roosevelt, but instead Walker took the opportunity to tar public workers and refuse to budge from the extreme plan that had brought hundreds of thousands to the streets. He didn't smile once while telling stunned citizens that it was his way or the highway.

Most Misleading Mantra: Walker repeated the claim that "Wisconsin is broke" to justify his assault on state workers. He failed to acknowledge that the state was paying its bills, sending paychecks to workers, and collecting taxes - not exactly the hallmarks of being broke. Indeed, a Moody's report showed that Wisconsin was faring better than many other states in terms of fiscal health.

True Colors Award: Walker let his hair down in a February phone conversation with a prank caller claiming to be wealth y conservative activist David Koch. As a result, the state learned that the new governor prided himself on "not negotiating" and that he "thought about that [planting troublemakers]" to disrupt the protests. Walker also proudly referred to his budget repair bill as "drop[ping] the bomb." The only trouble with dropping bombs in your state, of course, is that they leave big craters.

Straw Man Award: Walker has been intent on painting state workers as greedy, no matter what concessions they make. "I asked the unions to pay into their own health care insurance...and they said I was being unreasonable," he wrote in a September fundraising letter. "I requested that they contribute toward their own pensions...and they screamed it was unfair." Never mind that unions offered to accept higher pension and health care contributions, hard on the heels of accepting furlough days under Gov. Doyle.

Hey, Get Off My Lawn! Award: This month, Walker's Department of Administration announced a policy making it harder for groups (even groups of four) to protest at state buildings, including the Capitol. They must obtain permits 72 hours in advance and potentially pay fees, submit liability insurance and jump through various other hoops. This left Constitution-loving citizens no choice but to protest Walker's assault on protests.

Scout's Honor Award: The FBI raided the home of a longtime Walker aide as part of a John Doe investigation. Nearly a dozen people, including Walker's spokesperson and campaign fundraiser, received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony. As the probe moved closer to Walker, he used the Eagle Scout defense: "The bottom line is, I know how I have conducted myself in public service. It is the traditions I have from my parents; it's part of how I obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. We operate at high integrity." It's hard to imagine what kind of scout badge Walker qualifies for after all he's done this year.

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