You don’t need a mind reader to figure out who won this edition of Worst Week in Washington.

The General Services Administration, which manages real estate for the federal government, is one of the many U.S. agencies that is best seen and not heard. It broke that dictate in a major way this past week as the head of the GSA resigned and two of her top deputies were fired after revelations of an extravagant, four-day conference in, naturally, Las Vegas.

The October 2010 gathering at the M Resort and Casino in Henderson, Nev., just south of Sin City, cost Joe Taxpayer a tidy $823,000. It featured a clown, a $75,000 team-building exercise (the goal was to build a bicycle), $7,000 worth of sushi and, yes, a mind reader.

“Taxpayer dollars were squandered,” GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson wrote in her resignation letter. Understatement of the year alert!

As the agency scrambled to deal with the fallout from the gross overspending — at a time when politicians of both parties are preaching fiscal austerity — a video that was shown at the conference came to light and made things even worse. In the spoof video, a GSA employee brags that despite his free-spending ways, he’ll never be “under [Office of the Inspector General] investigation.” What’s that Bible verse about pride going before a fall, again?

The GSA, for clowning your way into becoming a national embarrassment, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at

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