originally published November 14, 2012
When construction began on a new quintet of buildings – three apartments, one office building and one hotel – in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington DC, no one had any idea just how much these structures would come to impact every political, media and sports scandal, ever. It all began with a pair of political burglaries in the hotel, which eventually led to the shameful resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
The Watergate hotel was named after the ‘Water Gate’ area where symphony orchestra concerts were held beside the Potomac River until 1965. Since 1974, a total of 119 new –gate scandals have been brought up in the media. Probably more when you look at local controversies, but 119 that were worthy of a Wikipedia entry.
That’s a lot of gates.
There was Fajitagate, in which a trio of off-duty San Francisco policemen stumbled out of a bar one November night in 2002, and demanded that a couple guys who were passing by hand over the fajitas they were carrying. When the two guys refused, they were beaten savagely by the policemen, one of whom was the son of the Assistant Chief of Police. Ten additional officers, including that high-ranking dad, were indicted for assisting in trying to cover up the incident.
Monicagate, which we all fondly remember as that time in the late 1990s when Republicans tried to get Bill Clinton booted out of office because of an extramarital affair – a sin that has since proven to have never occurred among any member of the Republican party, ever – also went by the names ‘Lewinskygate’, ‘Tailgate’, ‘Zippergate’, ‘Sexgate’, and if I have my way re-writing the books, ‘Hummergate’.
Robogate may still prove to be Canada’s true Watergate equivalent. It refers to an ongoing investigation into numerous computer-generated phone calls to citizens just prior to the 2011 federal election, informing them their polling stations had changed location (they hadn’t). If true, then the Conservative Party – who won the election and has been accused of having sent out the calls – may have dissuaded thousands of Canadians from voting. I find that hard to believe. Just look at this face:
Would this guy do anything dishonest? I mean, come on! He’s holding a kitten!
Of course there’s a Porngate, but surprisingly it happened in India. Two ministers of the state cabinet in Karnataka resigned because they were watching a porn clip on a mobile device while the legislature was in session. One of them was the minister in charge of women’s issues. Maybe he was… researching stuff?
Coalgate has nothing to do with quality toothpaste, but instead refers to a $37 Billion loss due to the Indian government’s mishandling of coal field actions over the past decade. That’s a waste of a good –gate name.
Just to give you an idea of how bat-shit nuts the media in England is, Biscuitgate erupted when Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused to declare his favorite biscuit. I didn’t think there had ever been a news day quite that slow.
You’re probably aware of Hackgate, in which News Of The World staff have been accused of tapping some high-end phones in England. But did you know about Horsegate, in which Prime Minister David Cameron had apparently ridden a horse along with the husband of one of those accused staff members? Probably not, because who the hell can keep track of all these gates?
Toallagate, taken from the Spanish word for ‘towel’, occurred in 2001 when it was revealed that the Mexican government dropped about $400 per towel when they renovated the President’s residential bathroom.
Closetgate refers to the controversy after Comedy Central refused to air South Park’s “Trapped In The Closet” episode, which made fun of Scientology and Tom Cruise. Cruise allegedly threatened to boycott Viacom (who owns the channel) in his promotional tour for Mission Impossible III. In turn, South Park fans threatened to boycott the Cruise movie. As usual, the show’s creators reaped the benefits, both through the great publicity of Closetgate and because the episode was nominated for an Emmy.
Yes, there is also a Gategate. British Member of Parliament Andrew Mitchell allegedly called a policeman a ‘pleb’ when he was asked to use a different gate to leave Downing Street on his bicycle. Serious stuff.
Of course, who can forget Nipplegate, when Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed during the halftime performance of Super Bowl XXXVIII. The public outcry was vicious, even drowning out my own personal outcry at having to watch the damn New England Patriots win again. Also, this particular ‘gate’ gave us the term ‘wardrobe malfunction’. From what I can tell, Janet coined the term herself, along with co-conspirator and boob-liberator Justin Timberlake.
There have been three Troopergates, which leads me to worry that we’re running out of words to add –gate to. First, a pair of Arkansas state troopers claimed that they had arranged for sexual liaisons for Bill Clinton when he was governor. Then New York Governor Elliot Spitzer allegedly told the state police to keep tabs on where senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno went whenever he drove around with a police escort. Lastly, Sarah Palin fired Alsaska’s public safety commissioner for not firing her brother-in-law. Allegedly. Wow, troopers certainly get themselves embroiled in a lot of gates.
Weinergate, which is a name so awesome they should rename the Watergate Hotel after that, occurred when Anthony Weiner tweeted a photo of his barely-contained member. Come to think of it, Weinergate would probably work better as a motel.
The world of sports is no stranger to gate-dom. Bountygate has been in the news a lot this year, with its sordid details of financial rewards being paid to players on the New Orleans Saints defense upon successfully injuring a player on the opposing team. This broke just a year and a half after Tripgate, in which a New York Jets coach stuck out his leg and tripped a Miami Dolphins player as he was running along the sidelines. Cheating in the sacred sport of football. For shame.
Speaking of which, I can’t abandon this opportunity to remind people of Spygate, in which Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots had their hands slapped for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals back in 2007. The same team and coach were also accused of taping the St. Louis Rams’ pre-Super-Bowl practice back in 2001. I’m not saying they won on false pretenses or anything. I might believe it, but I’m not saying it.
Lastly there’s Skategate, the moment in which I immediately and forever stopped caring about figure skating as a legitimate sport. In the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a pair of Russians scored higher than the Canadians in the ice dancing medal round, thus revealing the event to be arbitrary and prone to easy bias. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful act of artistic impression and incredible athletic activity. But it ain’t a sport.
Funny how things look different from the other side of a gate.