The Best Politically Motivated Beards Of The Century

Most Americans feel a sense of relief knowing that Osama bin Laden is no longer out there in the world. However, Gary Weddle (pictured above, center), a high school teacher in Washington, likely feels the most relief of all. After the events on September 11, he pledged not to shave his beard until the United States captured or killed the terrorist leader. He told ABC News that he expected it to take six months or so. So much for that. Ten years later, he still hadn’t reached for the razor, which, ironically, made him look a lot like his foe. That, or the lead singer of a ZZ Top cover band.

You’ve got to give it to the guy. A beard 10 years in the making takes COMMITMENT (and a lot of shampoo, presumably). And that commitment deserves an award. So in honor of Weddle’s outstanding achievement, we here at MTV Clutch present him with the Best “I Hate Osama” Beard title. We don’t have a trophy or anything to give him, but we are crowning five more of the best politically motivated beards of the millenium, you know, to make things seem a bit more awards show-y. Our criterion: These groundbreaking beards must have been grown to prove a point, not just out of laziness (i.e., hipsters need not apply).

In addition to each “Best …” title, we will also be judging in two additional categories. Up to five “Abraham Lincoln Beards” may be awarded for how prestigious each beard makes the wearer look. For the overall crazy appearance of the beard, up to five “Ambrose Burnside Beards” may be awarded.

Best “I’m With You In Spirit” Beard: David Letterman

You don’t often see David Letterman becoming involved with politics, unless it’s to make fun of a politician. However, when the Writer’s Guild went on strike in 2008, the late night host grew a beard to show his support. He wouldn’t break his contract and protest with the writers, but his beard said he was channeling Papa Hemingway’s spirit for them.

Abraham Lincoln Beards For Prestigiousness:

Ambrose Burnside Beards For Craziness:

Best “Screw Off, NBC” Beard: Conan O’Brien

Conan O’Brien also grew a beard during the Writer’s Strike of 2008, but narrowly lost the previous award because Letterman’s beard just looked creepier, which is better in these awards. However, as a consolation prize, we present this title to Red Beard O’Brien for growing out his facial hair upon leaving NBC’s “Tonight Show.” His new gig at TBS just seemed more dangerous because of it…until Will Ferrell shaved it off.

Abraham Lincoln Beards for Prestigiousness:

Ambrose Burnside Beards for Craziness:

Best “I’m Not A Politician Anymore” Beard: Al Gore

After controversially conceding the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, Al Gore told everyone he was done with politics and wanted to focus on environmental issues. When people said, “No, we don’t believe you!” Gore answered, “Oh yeah, believe this!” And quickly grew his best hippie beard.

Abraham Lincoln Beards for Prestigiousness:

Ambrose Burnside Beards for Craziness:

Best “I’m Faking Crazy To Comment on Celebrity Culture” Beard: Joaquin Phoenix

We’re not exactly sure what point Joaquin Phoenix was trying to make about celebrity culture by growing a sea captain’s beard and acting cracked out, but he really dedicated himself to the cause. For that, he earns our respect. Now Casey Affleck should grow out his beard and go crazy so Joaquin Phoenix can film him for “I’m Still Here 2.”

Abraham Lincoln Beards for Prestigiousness:

Ambrose Burnside Beards for Craziness:

Best “All For One, One For All” Beard: 798 Belgian Men

In January, one of Belgium’s best-known actors, Benoît Poelvoorde, urged his countrymen not to shave until their nation forms a government. They’ve been running under a caretaker government since June. And behold, 798 men signed up and dedicated their hairy faces to the fight. It didn’t really do anything, though, and many of the beard-growers, including Poelvoorde, have since shaved. Sure made for a righteous three and a half months of beard though.

Abraham Lincoln Beards for Prestigiousness:
None! They gave up too soon.

Ambrose Burnside Beards for Craziness:

Photos: Getty Images, ABC