Jerry Springer, who has died at the age of 79, went from being the mayor of Cincinnati to being the ringleader of one of the most brutish, coarse, uncouth, tasteless reality talk shows on TV. It’s hard to imagine that in our current landscape his career trajectory wouldn’t have gone in the opposite direction. By today’s standards, Jerry Springer had a show that featured calm debate among fellow moderates being queried by a mild-mannered, fact-focused journalist. He would have had to dramatically crazy things if up he wanted to make it into national politics. Consider this tame episode featured in the Mental Floss look at 12 Wild Facts About The Jerry Springer Show. “A 1998 episode titled ‘I Married a Horse’ featured a British man who married his horse. Cameras went overseas to film the man and his ‘wife.’ A disclaimer opened the segment: ‘Sexual contact with animals is illegal in this country and most of the Western world. This is the first film to examine a subject which many find deeply disturbing.’ Some stations found the episode so upsetting that they refused to air it, opting instead to broadcast a rerun of ‘Past Guests Do Battle.'” OK, that sounds a bit outlandish, but it’s hardly the stuff of C-Span. Or this from The Hollywood Reporter: “In one episode, a purported sex worker lost her dentures when she got into a fistfight; in another, mother-and-daughter dominatrices brought out their ‘slave’ and rode him around the studio.” That’s the kind of Jewish space laser-free content discarded by MTG for being too refined; something better left to the PBS Newshour crowd.

At one point, Springer was called out for describing transgender guests as “trannies.” His response: “I honestly had no idea that you’re not supposed to use that term so now we’ll find another term to use … But, yeah, I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people so obviously I’ll just change the term. There’s no argument there.” That might be OK for a talkshow host, but it would render Springer unelectable in places like Montana where a transgender House member was just exiled, or in Kansas, where lawmakers just imposed sweeping anti-trans bathroom law.

Springer usually kept his own political career separate from the absurd, but as THR reports, not always. “The two did collide in 1974, when the political and the prurient came together in an incident that derailed Springer’s dream of becoming a major politician. Then a Cincinnati councilman, he was found guilty of soliciting prostitutes (astonishingly, he had paid them with checks).” If only he hadn’t paid his bill. He could have been president.