In A Nutshell
One of the best recurring characters on Family Guy is Mayor Adam West—a crazier version of the real Adam West, who runs Quahog like his own private madhouse. However, as insane as Mayor West may be, he’s got nothing on Mayor Mockus. The twice-elected mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogota, made a name for himself by dressing up as Superman, hiring mimes to direct traffic, and generally being crazier than an outhouse rat.
The Whole Bushel
Antanas Mockus may well be one of the oddest politicians to have ever lived. A former Bogota art lecturer who gained a reputation for mooning his students mid-sentence, Mockus decided in 1995 to run for the mayor’s office. Now, this in itself isn’t that odd. Plenty of madmen have run for public office before; some for the heck of it, some for a laugh, and some because they just genuinely are crazy. So the idea of a butt-exposing art lecturer running around in a Superman costume and demanding citizens vote for him is amusing, but not that weird. No, what’s really weird is that Mockus actually won.
No joke: The lunatic lecturer was made mayor of Bogota, and you better believe power only made him crazier. To combat dangerous driving, for example, he hired 400 street mimes to direct traffic and mock bad drivers. At another point he created an elite “army” of super-knowledgeable taxi drivers and named them the “knights of the zebra.” Elsewhere, he handed out some 350,000 thumbs-up and thumbs-down cards so the city could easily let him know how he was doing. In essence, he turned the whole of Bogota into his giant personal playground . . . and the people loved him for it.
Yeah: loved him. It wasn’t just his outward eccentricity, such as his penchant for appearing on TV naked while taking a shower. Nor was it his frequent stunts to improve people’s happiness, like the time he created “women’s night,” asked the men to stay home, and threw free concerts for 700,000 of the city’s women. It was because all this madness actually got results.
Under his tenure, the murder rate plummeted to three-quarters of what it had been beforehand. Alcohol-related violence dropped dramatically, and traffic accidents were more than halved. Gun crimes also fell during his two terms, and fresh water was brought into every single home in a city that had once been renowned for bad sanitation. He even created a system whereby taxes were paid voluntarily, a move that managed to triple the city’s revenue. In short, his two terms were crazy, effective, and quite possibly brilliant. Buoyed by his successes, he even ran for president in 2010, managing to come second. So yeah, Colombia was not only this close to being ruled by a guy who liked to get his butt out, but probably would have been better off if he’d actually won.