"The U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power," according to the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
Officials have stolen $15 billion in federal defense funds, resulting in an army that is ill-equipped and unprepared.
It's not good news for the five contenders.
Brazil now joins India, Burkina Faso and Thailand at 76th place on the list.
Corruption is part of life in sub-Saharan Africa, with faith in the police and courts at rock bottom.
Even in a country accustomed to flagrant political corruption scandals, this one could be the final straw.