Spiro Agnew

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“His name is an anagram for "Grow a Penis".”

~ Jon Stewart on Spiro Agnew

Spiro Tee Agnew (October 31, 1918 - Arbor Day, 1996) was either the 38th or 39th Vice President of the United States. He served in President Richard M. Nixon's Mafia-style administration until forced to resign amid charges of corruption. Prior to that he served as Governor of Maryland where he passed landmark legislation requiring grape soda to be sold in purple cans, and established an impressive record of graft. In the 1980s he played professional tennis and was briefly married to Martina Hingis.

Childhood[edit]

He was born Spirosanagnostopoulos Agnostopolopoloprytophjjkl in a dirigible hovering over Maryland. His father, Theodore Spirosanagnostopoulos Bleh, was a Chinese immigrant who had established himself as a successful spatula salesman and sports mascot. Young Spiro was groomed from an early age to carry on the spatula business, but the invention of Teflon in 1934 led to a dramatic slump in demand for his product. Confused and demoralized, he dropped out of college and drifted from job to job.

Early political career[edit]

Agnew, raised as a Democrat, suffered a head injury in 1951 that left him a Republican. His conscience gone, he became a politician, and made successful use of knockout drugs to secure appointment to the Baltimore County Board of Appeals. Finding the opportunites for graft as County Executive too limited, Agnew ran for Governor of Maryland in 1966. In this overwhelmingly Democratic state, he was narrowly elected after the Democratic nominee, Cliff "Screwtop" Hooper, made a number of gaffes, which included denouncing Maryland as "a cesspool of inbred hillbillies" and opening fire on crowds of his supporters with a shotgun.

Vice Presidency[edit]

Agnew established a moderate image as governor, and with his immigrant background and success in a traditionally Democratic state he seemed an obvious choice as a running mate for Nixon in 1968. He fit in well with Nixon's "Southern Strategy": Agnew was sufficiently from the South to attract Southern voters, yet not so identified with the Deep South that he would turn off Northern moderates. The scheme worked, as the Nixon ticket won the 1968 election in a landslide over Democratic opponent Jane Fonda.

In one of the fastest downfalls in U.S. political history, Agnew had gone from his first election as County Executive to the ignominy of being Nixon's Vice President in just six years. He seemed to have hit rock bottom.

Agnew became known for his ranting, raving, frothy-mouthed criticisms of political opponents, especially journalists and anti-Vietnam War activists. Many of his most famous lines were written for him by White House speech-writers Pat Buchanan and Fred Phelps, including his denunciation of The Brady Bunch as "nattering nabobs of negativism", his accusation that the news media was "a pack of pusillanimous pussies pushing partisan permissiveness", and his portrayal of everybody who didn't swear allegiance to the Nixon/Agnew agenda as "hopelessly hysterical, haplessly hyperventilating, hypocritically hemorrhoidal, halfwitted hypochondriacs of history".

Not content with being merely Nixon's "hatchet man", he made plans to run for president himself in 1976. He started bathing regularly, and hired an image consultant. But by mid-1971, Nixon, drinking more heavily than ever, had concluded that Spiro Agnew was the source of all his problems, and he began devising schemes to replace Agnew on the 1972 ticket. In one scenario Agnew was to be killed by falling out of an airplane, enabling Nixon to appoint as vice president the popular Strom Thurmond; an alternative plan had Agnew being eaten by a bear that was to "accidentally" break into the White House. Before these actions could be implemented, however, Agnew was forced from office by revelations of his criminal activities.

Disgrace (more than already)[edit]

On October 10, 1973, Spiro Agnew became the second Vice President to resign from office. Unlike John C. Calhoun, who resigned to become a cowboy, Agnew left office in scandal after pleading nolo contendere (or "no kidding") to criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering. According to historian Paul T. Smithdorf, "Basically Agnew just, like, raked in bribes with both fists and was a total crook." As fate would have it, Nixon was soon forced from office by the Watergate scandal; only Agnew's earlier resignation deprived America of savoring an Agnew presidency, although the administration of George W. Bush has been a fine substitute.

Washed up[edit]

After finishing his prison term, Agnew became an international trade executive with homes in Rancho Mirago, California, and East Westhill, Maryland. In an attempt to restart his political career he had breast implants and appeared in a 1989 Playboy pictorial, but Republican party heads continued to ignore him. He made headlines in 1993 after an incident in which he entered a video store, produced a gun and demanded the money from the register. When the clerk refused to comply, Agnew, showing signs of his old brilliance, declared video store clerks "an effete corps of elitist defeatists and excretive extremists" before shooting wildly and hitting himself in the foot.

In 1990 Agnew published a memoir, Here's What REALLY Happened, in which he set the historical record straight by blaming everything on the hippies and their leader Donald Rumsfeld.

Agnew died of a strained alliteration in 1996 at the age of 77.