Ever feel like the constant pomp and parade of US politics is all just completely absurd? Take heart: you're probably not from Brazil.
On Sunday, voters in South America's largest country elected to Congress a man who calls himself "Tiririca" (meaning "grumpy"), whose professional outlay includes blonde wigs, bad dancing and avoiding the written word, according to election officials.
... Meaning, he's an illiterate clown. Literally.
Election officials in San Paulo state tried to block his access to the ballot by claiming evidence had surfaced that he's illiterate, according to the BBC. A court denied their request, allowing Francisco Oliveira Silva -- who worked for a circus as a child and found relative success in adulthood as a television clown -- to remain on the ballot on election day.
Running on the slogan, "It can't get any worse," he generated a surprisingly high-profile campaign complete with a professional quality web site and series of bizarre television commercials.
In the videos, which are available online, Tiririca actually asks, "What does a congressman do?"
His response: "The truth is I don't know, but vote for me and I will tell you."
He ended up with more than twice as many votes as any of his serious challengers, leaving the state's former governor, Antony Garotinho, grasping at second place.
"Tiririca's well-financed campaign will help elect other politicians because under Brazil's election rules he can pass his substantial excess votes on to other candidates in his coalition, which includes the ruling Workers' Party," Reuters noted.
Though elected, he could still be removed from office if he fails a test of his literacy, which is a requirement of all public officials in Brazil.
Brazil, an emerging economic power on the world's stage, voted on over 6,000 candidates representing 27 different political parties in the country's national elections last weekend.
With 46.9 percent of the country's votes for president, the odds-on favored candidate, Dilma Rousseff of the Workers' Party, took the largest share. However, since at least 50 percent of the electorate is required to win Brazil's presidency, the runner-up, Green Party candidate Marina Silva, has one more chance to persuade voters ahead of a runoff election later this month.
This video is from the Brazil variety show "Tiririca", published to YouTube on Dec. 26, 2007.
This video is a collection of campaign commercials for Brazilian clown/member of Congress Tiririca.
Correction: The official language of Brazil is Portuguese.