Houston City Council District F elected a Council Representative that may not, in truth, reside within the bounds of the district full-time. Around 20% of eligible voters (maybe 8% of the populace) voted Annise Parker & Eugene Locke into a run-off (with slightly fewer ultimately electing Parker to office) for Houston's Mayor. Despite calling a local fire fighter a "House Negro" Jolanda Jones won a low turnout run-off election against Jack Christie.
On a State level Rick Perry received 39% of the popular vote, and is now the longest serving Governor in the history of the State of Texas. Chris Bell ran in the same race, and was treated as a serious candidate by many. The 2006 Democratic Candidate for Attorney General stole a quote from a TCU football coach without attribution (passing it off as his own, instead of inventing his own campaign slogan) and 37% of voters took his candidacy seriously.
Nationally, Al Franken is a Senator. Think about that for a second. Al Franken, average comedian and Saturday Night Live star (during one of their "not-funny" periods) is representing Americans in the U.S. Senate. Even worse? Arnold Schwarzeneggar is the Governor of California.
Internationally, Sylvio Berlusconi is in charge of things in Italy, despite having multiple affairs, some of them allegedly with teens of questionable age.
Given all of that evidence: Hugo Chavez' standing ovation in Copenhagen makes a lot of sense does it not?
When intelligent people abdicate the decisions of governance to those whose sole desire is the abdication of guilt through the release of responsibility then the snake oil salesmen, carnival barkers and narcissists will come to dominate the public stage.**
**Or...Maybe they already have?