3. Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles
It’s tough for the minority party to pass legislation. The first time the GOP tried to prohibit ACORN from federal funding, the measure failed on a party-line vote. Then twentysomething conservative activists O’Keefe and Giles took the stage. The two posed as a pimp and a prostitute, entered an ACORN office and secretly taped ACORN employees offering advice. It didn’t matter that the videos were edited to look especially embarrassing (O’Keefe was filmed wearing a ridiculous pimp costume that he didn’t wear into the interviews). Guided by Breitbart, who launched his Big Government website with the tapes, the footage exploded in the conservative media and made ACORN so toxic that most Democrats in Congress later voted to defund it. It was a watershed moment for conservatives who found they could get Congress to act on a “scandal” even if the traditional mainstream media weren’t involved.