Ted Stevens predates the State of Alaska. In 1953, he drove to Alaska Territory in a Buick, and--like a modern Al Swearingen--he built himself into a local luminary, successfully lobbied Congress to make Alaska a state, and then used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to transform himself into a patronage-distributing warlord. As one local journalist put it:

"In Alaska, the presence of so-called Stevens money is as prevalent as the winter snow. Everywhere you look, Stevens has left his mark. ... Stevens' ability to deliver--and his invulnerability to electoral challenge because he could deliver--transformed him from an elected official into something of a frontier fertility god--worshiped, propitiated, feared. Stevens answered to no one."

TNR's Michael Crowley captured the savage authenticity of Senator Stevens's moral code in this profile last September. Read it now, because it might be your last chance to glimpse a dying breed of primordial American, laid low by the encroachment of ethics, rules, and civilization.

--Barron YoungSmith