Golden Sleaze Awards - The Self-Made Martyr Award

Sen. Preston W. Smith

Smith is a young, likable, whip-smart guy who's a walking testament to the ability of the Legislature to chew up folks who haven't yet learned how to handle a certain level of power and attention. Having peaked early in his legislative career, Smith's behavior has become increasingly unpredictable.

This year, he spent much of his efforts trying to dismantle Georgia's indigent defense system, but his personal Waterloo came when he voted against the governor's pet proposal to create a hospital bed tax. Subsequently unseated as chairman of the prestigious Senate Judiciary Committee as payback for bucking his caucus, Smith went rogue, stepping into the well for an extended rant against GOP party bosses, during which he invoked goose-stepping, feudal serfs and "political prostitutes." He described himself as "a man with a backbone of steel" willing to sacrifice his position for his principles.

But Smith neglected to add that he works for a medical-services company representing the interests of private hospitals, which were opposed to the bed tax. As the session's final day wound down, the young senator announced, using Tea Party-speak, that he was planning to leave the Gold Dome to run for state attorney general. Hope those burned bridges don't slow you down.