The 14 Dumbest Things Presidents Ever Said (And Instantly Regretted)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - DECEMBER 14: U.S. President George W. Bush during his meeting with the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (not in picture) at Salam Palace December 14, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq. Bush arrived in Iraq on a surprise, farewell visit to the country that has defined his presidency since the invasion in 2003, Bush has come to meet Iraqi leaders, thank the troops and celebrate the new security agreement. (Photo by Mohammed Jalil-Pool/Getty Images)
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The title of President of the United States carries with it a considerable amount of prestige and gravitas, but it's easy to forget that our country's leaders are still human. Every U.S. president has said dumb things, some more than others — because when you're in the public eye as often as they are, you're bound to be caught saying something regrettable. And if you're George W. Bush, then you probably wish the camera and recorder were never invented.

But old Dubya is not alone in making dumb statements. Everyone from President Warren G. Harding to Bill Clinton has made doltish remarks, revealed TMI in unnecessary admissions, or struggled to form sentences that made sense. Even President Obama, who's known for his sweeping, articulate speeches has come off like an airhead once in a while.

But who can blame them? Being the president of the United States is a tiring job, I would imagine. They're allowed to drivel once in a while. It provides endless entertainment, after all, long after their terms are over.

Ronald Reagan

President Reagan pointed out the painfully obvious in 1982: “Well, I learned a lot…. I went down to [Latin America] to find out from them and [learn] their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.”

Grover Cleveland

President Cleveland would not make a very popular president today: “It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”

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George H.W. Bush

President Bush’s slip of the tongue reveals that he and former President Reagan were maybe closer than the world thought: “For seven and a half years I’ve worked alongside President Reagan. We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex … uh … setbacks.”

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton remarked on the newly discovered Incan mummy on display at the National Geographic Museum in the most Bill Clinton way ever: “If I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That’s a good-looking mummy.”

Calvin Coolidge

In 1925, when Coolidge met Red Grange, who was introduced to him as being “with the Chicago Bears,” the president said, “I’m glad to know you. I always did like animal acts.”

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George W. Bush

President Bush was infamous for saying dumb things, but this one might take the cake. Bush tried and failed to repeat a very simple old saying: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … you can’t get fooled again.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

LBJ was caught saying in a White House recording, “The crotch, down where your nuts hang, is always a little too tight.”

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Jimmy Carter

President Carter made a rather personal confession in an interview with Playboy magazine in 1976: “I’ve looked on many women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.”

Richard Nixon

“When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal,” Nixon famously told David Frost in a 1977 interview. 

Barack Obama

President Obama is known for his eloquent speeches, but this was not his shining moment. He said at a press conference in Israel in 2008: “It’s always a bad practice to say ‘always’ or ‘never.’”

Gerald Ford

President Ford defied logic when he said, “If Lincoln were alive today, he’d roll over in his grave.”

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Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sometimes our presidents don’t know what they’re talking about either. Like when Eisenhower said, “Things have never been more like the way they are today in history.”

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Warren G. Harding

Did rapper Warren G get his moniker from President Harding? Because the former U.S. leader used to spit some hot word play: “Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed. Progression is everlastingly lifting the standards that marked the end of the world’s march yesterday and planting them on new and advanced heights today.”

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Harry S. Truman

President Truman shows his knack for hyperbole when he said, “The White House is the finest prison in the world.”