Just to elaborate on how odd I find Parade magazine's annual list of dictators, here is a sampling of some other features in the very same issue of Parade that contains all of the dictating:
- Quirkiest Celebrity Baby Names (Could grow up to have quirkiest worst dictator name!)
- Top 5 Jobs, No Bachelor's Degree Required (Perhaps 'dictator' is one of them!)
- Take Control of Your Appetite! (Then take control of your country as one of the worst dictators!)
On to the list! From...Parade magazine, correct. Hoo-boy. OK...
First, a big hearty congratulations to Pervez Musharraf and Islam Karimov for dropping out of the Top Ten this year! Nice job, fellas! Musharraf went from 8th in 2008 to not even ranking in the Top 20 this year! Quite an improvement! Now, granted he did resign as President of Pakistan in August of 2008, so it's a little hard to make the Top Ten when you're not even in charge of anything. But the new guy isn't in the Top Ten, so I'm looking at that as progress! And Karimov went from 9th in 2008 to 11th in 2009 and he is still in charge! It's only two spots, but it took him out of the Top Ten and that's important! The less dictator-y one is, the better.
Those two have their spots in the Top Ten replaced by newcomers Muammar al-Qaddafi and Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov. (Good Lord, sir. As a dictator, can't you demand that you shorten that name or else? Who names a baby Gurbanguly?) Mr. Qaddafi is the infamous leader of Libya, a country which became a household name when Christopher Lloyd shouted, "The Libyans!" to Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future in 1985. (It was his density.) Well, he's back in the Top Ten at Number 10 and looking strong. Old, but strong. As far as G.B. over there, he runs something called Turkmenistan which used to be part of the Soviet Union until 1991. He's only been in power for a couple of years, so to be named ninth out of the Top Ten in such a short period of time is quite an achievement. Yep, he's going to be quite the A-hole if he keeps this up.
Kim "Platform Shoes" Jung-iL over there in North Korea has made a most impressive drop from first place last year down to 3rd. Can you imagine where he'll drop if it turns out that he's been dead for a year and all of those people that we've seen were just look-alikes? They're pretty sneaky over there. A crafty bunch. I have no reason to believe he's not dead. And at the same time, not a whole lot to go on to prove that he is dead. But I still don't trust 'em.
Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan comes in 2nd place for the 2nd year in a row. Ah, always the bridesmaid, eh, Sudan? Somewhere along the line we got used to referring to it as "The Sudan" in the same way that we got used to referring to Congo as "The Congo". Why did we start doing that? Why did we stop? Did we not want it to catch on? Were we afraid that if the "the" was attached to all countries that we'd start sounding like Miss Teen South Carolina 2008 and her declaration that we needed to help those in "The Iraq" and such as? That's a pretty good reason! We might not have to worry about him being on the list next year, as the ICC has charged him with all things dictator-ish including: “murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property.” He's definitely list-worthy.
And Number One is a guy who climbed all the way from 6th place in 2008 clear up to 1st in 2009! It's Dictator Bob! Bob the Dictator! Bobby Rules the Land! It's Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (oooh, that's limerick material in the making right there) who is Parade Magazine's Number One Worst Dictator in the World! Take a bow, Bobby! You've been selected for this dishonor, according to Parade Magazine, for things such as:
- An 85% unemployment rate (Egads! 85%?! Things are definitely looking up here with our 10% unemployment.),
- An inflation rate so high that they government had to issue a $50 billion note! What can you get for $50 billion in Zimbabwe? Two loaves of bread. (I am not making this up.)
- He agreed to hold an election in 2008 and would abide by the results...if he won. Guess what happened? He won! Shocking, eh?
- During that election, his supporters killed 163 people who opposed him. And then they beat and/or tortured another 5,000, just for kicks.