is reprinted from Bathroom Reader Plunges Into the Presidency
Forty-two men have occupied the office of U.S. president; if each one made only one mistake or misspoke just once during his time in office, we'd already have a substantial collection of presidential faux pas. Fortunately for the cynics among us, most of these men have made more than a few boo-boos over the years. A few of our favorites bear special mention:
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt served hot dogs to the king and queen of England on their state visit. Here's hoping they served him bangers and mash when he crossed the pond!
- Harry S. Truman was known as a no-nonsense straight shooter whose desk bore a sign reading, "The buck stops here." While running for reelection, he told a campaign-stop crowd, "I don't give 'em hell, I just tell the truth and they think it's hell," which led to his nickname: "Give 'em hell Harry."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked by a journalist what significant decisions his vice president, Richard Nixon, had helped him make. "If you give me a week I might think of one," he replied. (He later apologized to Nixon).
- John F. Kennedy wins the award for the "gaffe that never was," his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. For years the media and the public believed that Kennedy had misspoken, saying "I am a jelly doughnut" (a Berliner is indeed a type of Berlin jam-filled pastry) instead of "I am a citizen of Berlin." However experts now say that Kennedy did speak correctly, so there's a little jam on the face of his critics.
- On September 16, 1968, Richard Milhous Nixon, in an effort to appeal to the young people, made campaign history on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the hippie-esque sketch comedy television show. During a fast-paced montage sequence, this president with the stuffed-shirt persona appeared and cried out the show's most famous catchphrase, "Sock it to me!"
- Gerald Ford was prone to all manner of physical gaffes, from locking himself out of the White House to tripping and falling down the steps of Air Force One during a visit to Austria. His clumsiness was famously parodied by comedian Chevy Chase on NBC's Saturday Night Live.
- Jimmy Carter caused a minor scandal when he admitted in a Playboy interview that he had "lusted after women" in his heart. Most Playboy readers instantly agreed that they had, too.
- Testing the microphone during what he thought was a sound check before a radio address, Ronald Reagan joked, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Only he didn't realize that they were broadcasting. The joke fell flat with Cold War-era listeners.
- George H.W. Bush declared that he disliked broccoli and scores of irate farmers sent bushels of the green stuff his way. He stuck to his guns, saying "I'm the president and I don't have to eat broccoli if I don't want to."
- Bill Clinton created a minor scandal dubbed "Hair Force One." He received a $200 haircut from celeb stylist Christophe on Air Force One, reportedly shutting down two runways at Los Angeles International Airport for an hour, at an estimated cost to airlines of $76,000.
- George W. Bush has made plenty of grammatical gaffes, but one of his biggest missteps was when, believing his microphone was off, he turned to Vice President Dick Cheney and pointed out a reporter by calling him a "major league a**hole." It's a good thing his mom Barbara Bush wasn't there, he'd have found his mouth filled with soap - in a major league way.