CAPITOL DOMES

Creepy comb-overs. Macabre toupees. Misadventures in gel. (And that’s just the women.) Radar investigates the eight worst trends in congressional coifs

November is election time. And with at least 15 Republican seats up for grabs, it will no doubt be a wonderful season filled with irrepressible hypocrisy and spirited rivalries. Slurs will be hurled. Accusations slurred. No longer content merely to kiss babies, candidates will actually deep-throat their heads.In the end, however, the pivotal decisions Americans face may all come down to hair. “It’s one of the first things voters notice,” says political image consultant Sherry Maysonave, president of Austin, Texas-based Empowerment Enterprises, who has masterminded the appearance of congressional and presidential candidates from both parties. “Hair is a strong indicator of a candidate’s position and politics. If it’s distracting in any way, it can seriously reduce the power of the message.” To avoid such dips in rhetorical potency, Maysonave eradicates frizz (“perceived as instability”), stamps out comb-overs (“not trustable”), and tries her best to wean male Conservatives, a group only slightly less conformist than teenage girls, of their dependence on poorly-parted helmet hair. “An overly low side-part,” she warns, “can make you look as if you’re not even living in this decade.”

In anticipation of the Great Hair-Off of November 2006, Radar examined all 535 congressional do’s to identify the eight most puzzling and potentially dooming hair trends in Washington. Granted, we could be wrong. It may be politically savvy to compulsively separate one’s bangs into tiny spikes of control freakiness or walk around with random hair clumps cantilevered off one’s skull. But somehow we don’t think so.

DEAD ANIMAL HAIR

Though all three deny it, these congressmen are clearly perpetrating the ultimate hair lie: the not-even-slightly-plausible toupee.

The rigidly conservative Lott—a suspected racist and barbershop quartet enthusiast who released a 1998 album called Let Freedom Sing—chooses a uniquely baroque clamped-on rug that looks as if he tightens it with a large key. (Why not let your scalp sing, Trent?) Meanwhile, Mica and Dorgan favor simpler mats that sit on their heads as organically as, oh, shoeboxes. “Politicians with toupees are fooling themselves,” says Maysonave, who urges balding candidates to be more straightforward about it. “I’ve never seen a toupee that doesn’t, on closer examination, look fake, and I’ve seen some very high-dollar toupees. For voters, it’s just not a trustable look.”

Notably, all three “styles” feature the Left Side-Part, overwhelmingly favored by male congressmen over a right- or center-part. And no wonder. In their 1998 study, “The Effects of Hair Parting on Social Appraisal and Personal Development,” independent researchers John and Catherine Walter conclude that men who part their hair on the left are perceived as “successful, strong, traditional” and happily “out of touch with their feminine side,” while those with right-parted hair “can create an uncomfortable image and can cause social shunning.” (We’ll pause now while some of you quickly re-part your hair.)