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State of Embarrassment — Tennessee

How battling Obamacare and being highlighted for corruption affect the citizen embarrassment level in Tennessee.

You've Probably Heard About: The bungled fight against health care. State Sen. Mae Beavers and state Rep. Susan Lynn, Republicans vying for Beavers’ Senate seat in November, repeatedly sponsored competing bills that would have Tennessee opt out of Obamacare. The two women wrangled for months over their own versions, only to produce a bill riddled with typographical errors that went down, 44-43, in the House. Still, it might have reached the 50-vote threshold to pass — if nine House Republicans hadn’t missed the vote. Maybe they were sick.

But Did You Know: Tennessee is our most corrupt state, according to a study commissioned by the political website The Daily Beast, which combed a decade’s worth of federal data on racketeering, fraud, embezzlement and public corruption cases. Of particular note: Last year a retired police captain was indicted by the FBI on charges that he allegedly joined up with gang members to move stolen property and drugs across state lines. Never saw that in Walking Tall.

They Said It: “The Constitution is very clear about whether the federal or the state government can do these kinds of things. I have not met anyone who knows what they’re talking about who thinks we have the right to opt out [of the new federal health care program].” — Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who presumably has not met Beavers and Lynn.

The Silver Lining: A recent Pew Center on the States report gave Tennessee a B- on “government management,” so there’s reason for optimism. The state comptroller came in for particular praise, perhaps because so much corruption makes for a comptroller’s field day.

Citizen Embarrassment Level: Blushing like a bruised orange. But that’s mostly because of the Al and Tipper split.