President Trump took office around a week ago and in that time a new global trend has emerged – doing a quick search on Google News for “Donald Trump” a couple of times a day just to see what the massive, bejowelled, orange-faced troglodyte has done this time. It’s like rubbing a cut on the roof of your mouth with your tongue to make sure that it still hurts; you know it’s probably going to, but you do it anyway just to make sure. I mean, we can’t really say it’s a surprise, can we? The guy did practically everything he could to demonstrate that he was a massively unqualified, misogynistic, racist, generally bigoted, petty egomaniac during his campaign for the Presidency, and now he’s just following through on that promise.
Still, it’s somewhat surprising just how spectacularly facepalm-worthy his first week as President has been. Between pledging to spend American tax dollars on investigating the alleged voting fraud that he himself invented as an excuse for potentially losing the popular vote, to his staffers attempting to dismiss their own lies about negative news reporting regarding his inauguration as not lies but “alternative facts”, to enacting a ridiculous and widely condemned Muslim ban and then getting upset about people calling his Muslim ban a Muslim ban – good gravy, it’s been a tumultuous first week in charge for the new President of the United States, and we probably all wish it had gone a little smoother. We can’t be too hard on him though. After all, President of the United States is the first job that Donald Trump has ever applied for. We’ve all had crappy first jobs, I’m sure.
As much as we enjoy a little chinwag about what’s going on in the world, here at Goombastomp.com we like to talk escapism even more. As the world transforms into a sometimes terrifying and depressing place, at least we’ve got video games to help us forget that the real world exists. If the thought of giving the codes for the entire United States arsenal of nuclear weaponry to a former reality TV star whose catchphrase used to be “You’re fired” is too mind-boggling for you to comprehend, then here’s a list of the top five worst politicians from video game history to remind you that things could be worse.
5. Me and you (Saints Row IV)
“I’m the patron Saint of America. We should probably look to changing the Pledge of Allegiance to One Nation Under Me.”
It’s easy to sit here and belittle everything that Donald Trump is doing while typing this out, munching on a packet of peanuts and sipping a hot coffee from the comfort of my own home. I mean, it’s really easy, just look at what he’s doing. But it would be remiss of us not to point that sceptical and judgemental eye upon ourselves just as readily as we do with the 45th President of the United States. We too make bad decisions, and we’re not always as eloquent as we wish we could be. We too make stupid Tweets. And granted, most of us don’t brag about the women we’ve sexually assaulted, but hey, let’s not split hairs. The point is that being POTUS isn’t a walk in the park, and if we were given control of the country, are we sure we wouldn’t make a pig’s breakfast of it?
Saints Row IV begins with our player character saving the world from nuclear annihilation while that Aerosmith song from Armageddon plays triumphantly in the background. It’s kind of an amazing opening sequence, actually. Our intrepid hero is so beloved by the people of the world that the next logical step is into the White House. It’s all going well in the beginning. Your first decision upon ascending to the Presidency is whether you’d prefer to cure cancer or solve world hunger, but it’s not long after that when aliens invade and you wind up having to come out of retirement for one last job and save Earth from the alien horde.
While our character undoubtedly begins the game with good intentions, once they’re under our control all hell has a tendency to break loose. Gunfire on the streets. Explosions as far as the eye can see. If you play the game like I do then there’s wanton destruction on all fronts from basically the moment you’re put in charge, and you’ll end up amassing millions of dollars worth of damage to property, killing countless innocent bystanders, and committing a heinous amount of health insurance fraud. My character – a giant, blonde beefcake baring an uncanny resemblance to a stereotypical professional wrestler – might have looked absolutely fabulous in a cute little pencil skirt and some killer high heels, but his cavalier attitude towards death and mayhem means that he won’t be getting his face carved into Mount Rushmore any time soon.
4. President Johnson (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)
“I want absolute power. I’m just a figurehead, the real power lies in The Patriots hands.”
The original Metal Gear Solid sees a band of terrorists take over an abandoned missile base in Alaska, only for series hero Solid Snake to turn up and ruin their party via a mixture of choke-holds and blowing things up. At the end of the game it’s revealed that not only did the President, George Sears, know about the terrorist plot in advance, and not only did he have a double agent in the terrorist group reporting to him the whole time, but he was also the cloned brother of the aforementioned Solid Snake and a bit a of an all-round naughty boy to boot. That alone should be enough to cement his place amongst our rogue’s gallery of politicians here, but then in Metal Gear Solid 2 it’s revealed that the world is being secretly run by a clandestine group of kingmakers and influencers known as The Patriots, and everything that George has been doing has been to unravel their nefarious plans. So he’s a bit of a shit, but his end goal is fairly noble.
On the other hand, the President who replaces George Sears, James Johnson, is an utterly spineless and despicable cur who’s misgivings are often forgotten about thanks to the vampires, the fat man on roller skates, the sword fight atop Federal Hall, and the giant, robotic, walking battle tanks strewn throughout the game. Amongst the flashy, overblown villains and the many, many, many plot twists and turns, it’s easy to forget that the President knows the truth about the Patriots, and rather than trying to bring about an end to their secret plans, he’s actually trying to use his position to leverage his way into their organisation.
His lust for power at all costs ends up being his undoing, as Revolver Ocelot – George Sears’ double agent from the first game – cold-bloodedly shoots the President dead before he can reveal too many of the Patriots’ secrets. James Johnson never becomes a major player in the Metal Gear Solid series, but his politics are ruthless, self-serving and ignoble. As a side note, when our hero, Raiden, first meets him, Johnson grabs him by the crotch, presumably trying to grab him by the pussy, only to realise that Raiden is in fact a man, and that means he doesn’t have a pussy. He has a penis. I’m not really sure why any of that happens in the game, but hey, at least he didn’t brag about it afterwards.
3. John Henry Eden (Fallout 3)
“The Brotherhood of Steel will fail. All those who oppose the Enclave will fail! I am President John Henry Eden, and this is my pledge – no one… NO ONE will take this great nation away from me!”
Tensions between the United States and rising super-power China escalate, eventually boiling over and kick-starting a short but devastating war; nuclear weapons are launched by both sides, and America is left obliterated and irradiated. No, that’s not a startling prediction of what will happen if Donald Trump continues to poke the Chinese bear with a pointy stick – it’s the set-up for post-apocalyptic RPG series Fallout.
In Fallout 3 the player will eventually come across small floating robots playing messages from the President of what’s left of the United States, and the leader of the Enclave faction, John Henry Eden. The speeches are largely based around his views on many of the inhabitants of the wasteland, and in particular his disdain for the Brotherhood of Steel faction. He’s a bit pompous, but hey, he’s the President, and if you can’t trust the President then who can you trust? Well, it turns out that Eden isn’t a man at all, but part of an AI program that was originally designed to handle the preservation of government should a catastrophe wipe out the entire cabinet at once. The AI gained sentience, learned the ways of the Constitution by reading through old historical records, and formed a personality made from the amalgamated back-stories of each and every President up until that date.
Perhaps he had a little too much Nixon in his blood, or perhaps AI really is just destined to go rogue given half a chance like so many movies have taught us, but the future for America that Eden dreams up is one where it starts up a new American Civil War, decimates the factions that aren’t loyal to the Enclave, and kills off any and all mutated beings living in the post-nuclear fallout world. But he just wants to make America great again, guys.
2. The Council (Mass Effect series)
“Ah, yes, Reapers. The immortal race of sentient starships allegedly waiting in dark space. We have dismissed that claim.”
While most of the politicians on this list fall somewhere between needlessly callous and full blown evil, the Council in Mass Effect has the dubious honour of making the cut based purely on their cowardice and utter incompetence. Commander Shepard – all round space hero, serial alien romancer and appalling dancer – is tasked with tracking down a rogue soldier named Saren that is in command of a gigantic spaceship the likes of which the galaxy has never seen. On his journey he discovers that the spaceship is actually a sentient being named Sovereign, and that this giant robot baddie has a bunch of friends who are eager to head to the Milky Way and start smashing things up real good.
Naturally, Shepard warns the council of the terrifying prophecy of their destruction at the hands of Sovereign’s buddies – a race of living spaceships known as Reapers – and the Council rightly makes preparations for the upcoming invasion so as to make sure they have the best chance of survival once the war starts. No, wait, that’s not what they do. What they actually do is bury their collective heads in the sand, ignore Shepard’s warnings, and just assume that everything is going to work out nicely in the end if they all wish real hard.
Fast forward a couple of years and predictably the Reapers arrive in the Milky Way and they’re not playing games. Entire worlds are obliterated before the forces of the galaxy even have a chance to respond. You’d think that would be the point at which the Council would say a billion sorries to Commander Shepard for not listening and immediately hand over whatever resources he needs to defend the galaxy but that would be too sensible, so instead they take part in a series of childish political squabbles, withhold pertinent information, and one of them even tries to blackmail Shepard into sabotaging the efforts to help another species, all while the Reapers are wiping out planets for fun. Politicians are often accused of only looking out for themselves, but the Council in Mass Effect are so spectacular in their ineptitude that not only do they fail to look after themselves, but they help take everyone else down with them.
1. Senator Steven Armstrong (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)
“I’m using war as a business to get elected… so I can end war as a business!”
Armstrong is a Colorado Senator running for the Presidency, and he figures that the best way to do that is to form a plot to bump off the current President utilising a cybernetic mercenary group, and then injecting himself with nano-machines that makes him nigh indestructible in battle, just in case. He’s got some child soldiers on the go at one point just for some bonus evil points. And I think he also got investigated for embezzlement or something while he was CEO of a cybernetics company. That bit’s not so bad, upon reflection.
The evil senator tops our list here for numerous reasons. First, he’s stark raving bonkers, with his end goal being to create an America that thrives on warfare, and that culls the weak among society in order to cultivate the strong. Second, he’s ruthless, evil, and uses his time as a politician only to further his own ends. And third, he’s a massive dick.
Eventually, our hero Raiden tracks down the evil senator and does battle with him in what is one of the most frustratingly awful boss battles in living memory. There’s a giant mechanical spider thing involved at one point, there’s unskippable cut-scenes you’ll likely have to watch over and over again, there’s quick time events galore; it’s hilarious, terrible and infuriating in almost equal measure. Senator Armstrong is an abhorrent politician, a ridiculous character, and a dreadful final boss. He’s earned his place on the list.
See? It could be worse.