20 Funniest Presidential Gaffes of All Time
We’re all human and capable of making mistakes, but those who live their lives in the public eye are for more susceptible to feeling the pain long after the mistake has been made. Presidential gaffes are a dime a dozen, but here’s a collection of the funniest mistakes and moments of embarrassment ever encountered by a president or vice president while on the job.
Funniest Gaffes by a President
How many presidential gaffes have been made in the education realm? Let us count the ways!
- FDR serves up hot dogs. We’re all for a president who keeps it real, but this one even caught us off-guard. What did FDR decide to put on the menu for a visit from the King and Queen of England? Hot dogs! This shocked much of the nation, including FDR’s own mother who understood that serving low grade “meat” to the royal family was unacceptable to most. The meal was topped off with Cokes and strawberry cake, but we’re guessing the royal couple took back the memory of being served a low key barbecue meal and were not fond of it.
- Clinton semi-fesses up to the Lewinsky affair. After lying to his teeth to the American public, President Clinton finally came clean (sort of) in August of 1998. After Lewinsky produced a dress with “memories” of her affair with the president, Clinton had no choice but to tell the truth. So how exactly did he phrase it? “I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.” No wonder she fell for him. It’s obvious the man has a way with words.
- Nixon says nothing he does is illegal. By now we all now the story of David Frost and Richard Nixon. It’s no wonder that Nixon once said to Frost, “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.” This was in 1977, a few years after Nixon resigned, so we’re guessing statements like this is what helped the guy sleep at night.
- Carter admits to liking women. How the times have changed. Carter was at the center of a semi-scandal when he admitted to Playboy magazine that in his heart he “had lusted after women.” While there’s no crime against what goes down in someone’s mind, the media made Carter out to be a pervert and womanizer. When you look at the context in which the statement was made, there’s not much scandal to work with.
- Clinton gets a haircut. It wasn’t just any haircut. Remember, Clinton is a ladies man, so the $200 haircut he received from celebrity hairstylist, Christ of is just the icing on the cake. The haircut took place on Air Force One, causing LAX to close the runways for an entire hour and resulting in over $75,000 lost by airlines. While the media found the incident funny, much of the public just found it pretentious.
- Ford’s poise. Gerald Ford was known as an accident-prone man and his accidents became so common that it was a running bit on Saturday Night Live, with Chevy Chase playing the role of Ford. Ford once locked himself out of the White House when taking his dog out (a caretaker who usually performed the task was off-duty) and had to alert the Secret Service to let him back in. On top of that, Ford was known for falling often, most notably down the stairs of Air Force One when visiting Austria.
- Nixon does sketch comedy. When campaigning, Nixon was so desperate to reach out to the young voter that he said yes to an appearance on the popular Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. While his role was limited, he got a huge laugh (though it was aimed at him, rather than with him) when he uttered the show’s catchphrase, “Sock it to me!”
- Obama says he’s fit for the Special Olympics. Obama might be a favorite of the media, but that didn’t prevent them from letting his comment on the Special Olympics go. On Jay Leno, Obama was asked about his bowling game and replied that it was like watching the Special Olympics because he was so bad. Was it tactless? Definitely, but in this case showed the President is like everyone else and sometimes speaks before he thinks.
Funniest Gaffes by a Vice President
War isn’t funny, but the things presidents and vice presidents have said when giving a speech over terrorism or the front lines of the drug war don’t always come out as hoped.
- Quayle misspells “potato.” It was the gaffe heard around the globe. Vice-President Quayle is at a school, speaking on education and a student comes forward for a spell-off of sorts. The 12 year old is asked to spell “potato.” Quayle must do the same and when he flips over his card (to reveal his answer), he’s added an “e” to the end of the word, proving that sometimes a 12 year old is less careless than someone who holds office. The media had a field day and beat the mistake into the ground for over a year. Fun fact – Wikipedia states that both “potato” and “potatoe” are acceptable spellings for the word.
- Biden is hopeful for the 20th century. Vice President Joe Biden has a way with words. In some cases he’s overly emotional and in others, he suffers from classic George W. syndrome and puts his foot in his mouth. When commenting on the state of the economy, Biden said, “I refuse to accept the notion that the United States of America is not going to lead the world economically throughout the 20th century.” Thanks for the fabulous prediction, Biden.
- Joe Biden drops the f-bomb. Biden was offended when a former colleague referred to him as, “Mr. Vice President.” How did he express his distaste for the formal address? “Give me a f-ing break.” Since then, Biden has gone on to drop many f-bombs during press conferences and behind closed doors (when the cameras are rolling and mics are on), creating a “bad boy” persona that has everyone laughing.
We didn’t want to give George W. his own category, but the hilarious things that flew out of his mouth during his eight years in office forced us to choose otherwise.
- George W. calls the U.S. government terrorists. We all know that George W. wasn’t the most eloquent speaker the U.S. Presidency has ever had, but this statement he made when talking about terrorists was especially hilarious. Bush said, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” While Bush was fond of a thoughtful gaze into the camera after making a statement like this, we have no clue what he was thinking about after reciting such nonsense.
- George W. loves the environment. When parting ways from the G8 summit in 2008, W. made a fantastic statement to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter!” Does it help or hurt that Bush was grinning like a kid on Christmas morning when he made the statement? We’re guessing it depends what side of the fence you’re on.
- Bush loves Canada. We’ll let the quote speak for itself. “This is my maiden voyage. My first speech since I was the president of the United States and I couldn’t think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada.” We think much of America felt the same way.
- Bush gets religious. Bush always had God on his side. Why? Probably because as he put it, “I’ve been in the Bible every day since I’ve been the president.” Still, this is a minimal gaffe on the vast list of Bushisms.
- Bush speaks Italian. At the G8 Summit in 2008, Bush needed to catch the attention of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and so he called out, “Amigo! Amigo!” How else would you address an Italian official? There’s no telling what Bush was thinking when he blurted this one out.
- Bush reassures us about the economy. Just as the economy became the epitome of a mess, Bush stepped forward to shed some light on the subject and try to put the minds of Americans at ease. “Let’s make sure that there is certainty during uncertain times in our economy.” We’re sure this left a lot of people feeling very confident about the state of the nation.
- Bush talks education. With all of his wife’s amazing work done for literature, you’d think Bush would know how to phrase the hopes and dreams of the public school system in America. Of course, you’d be wrong. “Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?” Even a kid in the latter stages of grade school would get a giggle from this gaffe.
- Bush talks technology. There are a bevy of Bushisms revolving around technology and the Internet (he once mentioned he used, “the Google”), but this quote is especially funny for a man that was leading the nation during the information boom. “Will the highways on the Internet become more few?” Of course this one could be chalked up to Bush’s age and the fact that the Internet is an incredibly hard device to work with.
- Bush on his position. Bush was always the first to remind us how difficult the job of being the President truly is. We aren’t sure if he was trying to convince us or himself that he could do an adequate job, but when he said, “My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions” it makes us glad he was surrounded by (some) intelligent people that could help him manage the decision making.
Even a high ranking official can make a mistake. The only difference between us and them is the President is on camera when he puts his foot in his mouth. While the moments are definitely embarrassing for the person in question (and the nation in which they lead), it also humanizes these figures that will go down in history (and hopefully not for their gaffe).