The vice president appeared to have flagrantly broken a sacred "Do Not Touch" rule on Thursday while visiting the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A photo of Mike Pence touching NASA equipment that he clearly wasn't supposed to set off a round of reactions on social media, which inadvertently turned the moment into a meme.
The photo captures Pence with his hand stretched out against the side of a capsule that he was, in fact, not authorized to touch. According to the sign taped to the side of the space-related hardware, the equipment Pence touched is "critical space flight hardware." And right below those words, in bold red lettering, was the crucial warning: "DO NOT TOUCH."
And yet, Pence touched it. You might even say he was caught red-handed. According to The Verge, the equipment that Pence was not supposed to touch appeared to be the titanium forward bay cover of the Orion capsule.
NBC News reported that spokespeople for both NASA and for Pence did not reply to a request for comment. The most charitable interpretation of events would probably be that Pence simply didn't notice the block letters insisting that nobody touch the sensitive hardware, although given how prominently the notice was displayed, that'd still be a somewhat embarrassing admission. And the world of social media wasn't prepared to let him forget abut the flub just yet.
1. Mike Pence Quietly Envies The Capsule
After six months at Trump's side, Mike Pence quietly envies the capsule for its journey to the cold, tranquil emptiness of space. pic.twitter.com/LrxSU7xUZc— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) July 7, 2017
2. The Official GOP Position
This is also the official GOP position on women's bodies pic.twitter.com/i0ouwUPV4h— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) July 7, 2017
3. Suddenly I Understand
Suddenly I understand why he won't have dinner with a woman who isn't his wife. pic.twitter.com/Vk2BLDRadR— shauna (@goldengateblond) July 7, 2017
4. We Are All Thinking
we are all thinking the same as critical-space-flight-hardware i think. pic.twitter.com/tbNDOIaAeD— 'ingie (@yngling) July 7, 2017
5. ... Shiny
Pence:....Shiny— St Peter (@stpeteyontweety) July 7, 2017
Rubio:The sign says "Do Not Touch" Mike!
6. C'mon, Dude
7. How It Feels When Mike Pence Touches You
How it feels when Pence touches you after you've clearly asked him not to. pic.twitter.com/JANvSksRBk— Ashley Mayer (@ashleymayer) July 7, 2017
8. I Just Wanted To Be A Part Of That Moment
I just wanted to be a part of that moment all right pic.twitter.com/MZWo6m2I9N— Peter Durfee (@Durf) July 7, 2017
9. Ladies And Gentlemen
Mike Pence, ladies and gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/Nd2xJD8nHL— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) July 7, 2017
10. Compare Your Hand To The President's Hand
11. Any Dumb Argument
12. He Smiled To Himself
Pence looked left. Then right. Mother wasn't anywhere around. He smiled to himself. He would touch pic.twitter.com/3WHJ3sGkvh— Jason Miller (@longwall26) July 7, 2017
13. What The Hell, Mike?
U can't touch th—HEY WHAT THE HELL MIKE pic.twitter.com/PQluMoc0YW— Peter Durfee (@Durf) July 7, 2017
14. In Pence's Defense
In Pence's defense, "DO NOT TOUCH" is in quotes. pic.twitter.com/E6AXhxICnn— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 7, 2017
15. The Intelligence And Judgment
"Mr. Vice-President, we are glad that you have the intelligence & judgment should Trump ever get impe—"— Eric Wolfson (@EricWolfson) July 7, 2017
**Pence sees DO NOT TOUCH sign** pic.twitter.com/2JQt0ERcRE
16. Extremely Relatable
I find the picture of Mike Pence touching a thing labeled "Do Not Touch" extremely relatable pic.twitter.com/IVfNHPxfeE— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) July 7, 2017
17. Marco Rubio Dared Me To Do It!
As you can see in that final tweet, Pence himself tried to get in on the fun after his ill-considered hardware grab went viral, which actually somewhat dampens the fun of it all ― getting in a few jabs at the rule-breaking vice president is arguably more fun without him cracking any self-effacing jokes. Pence ended up trying to pin the blame on Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and even went so far as to blur everything in the image except for his face, as if he was worried people wouldn't recognize him otherwise. Perhaps the vice president will take a closer look at the rules next time.