When asked if they’ll be watching the Republican Convention this week — or the Democratic Convention next week — many Americans demur with the same two excuses: “Nah, they’re boring” or “I prefer to watch sitcoms.”
But, ironically, that’s precisely why we should be tuning in to the festivities. Although politicians are famously buttoned-up and skillfully practiced in the art of careful spin, they have also been the source of some of our best entertainment — and laughter — over the past half-century. And it’s always by accident. A slip of the tongue, a botched photo op, a vacant-eyed brain-freeze and — wham! — suddenly an ordinary speech (or even a simple exit from Air Force One) can become an overnight viral sensation.
Memo to pundits everywhere: politics is not always serious business.
Who can forget President Gerald Ford’s unfortunate trips and stumbles, which gave birth to Chevy Chase’s famous prat-falling parodies on Saturday Night Live? How can we not laugh again and again at those strange and unexpected eruptions — Howard Dean’s banshee scream, the photo of John McCain’s “zombie pose” — that can turn a mundane moment into an instant Did-I-Just-See-What-I-Thought-I-Saw classic? How did any of us ever keep track of Dan Quayle’s endless tongue-challenged speeches, which made us pull closer to our TV screens whenever he stepped up to a podium?
They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but it also makes for some downright hilarious viewing.
So take a look at this collection of pics and clips we’ve put together for you — and remember: regardless of who you’re voting for, laughter is always bipartisan.
Political Bloopers and Blunders
” Exit Stage Right”
In 2005, after a brief press conference in Beijing, China, President Bush tried to make a hasty exit from the stage. Unfortunately, he went the wrong way and encountered two huge locked doors. After a few awkward moments of wrestling with the doors, he turned to the assembled reporters and quipped, “I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
“The Photo Op That Tanked”
During the 1988 presidential campaign, democratic candidate Michael Dukakis posed for a photo op riding in a tank with a helmet on. While the image was meant to convey strength and courage, Dukakis ended up looking more like a little kid playing war games. The Republicans even used the footage in a TV ad to portray him as soft on defense.
In one of the most cringe-worthy moments in the history of Republican debates, Rick Perry suffered a major brain freeze when asked which three government departments he intended to axe. After naming two, then fumbling helplessly, he admitted he couldn’t think of the third department, and summed up the whole episode with a shrug and an “Oops.” His campaign ended soon afterwards.
“You Know Who I Am”
When the presidential seal feel off the podium during President Obama’s speech at Fortune magazine‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in 2010, the president quickly covered by saying, “That’s all right, all of you know who I am.” The line got a lot of laughs, but he got an even bigger laugh when he followed up, “But I’m sure there’s somebody back there that’s really nervous right now, don’t you think?”Joe Biden
“Love Your Speech”
In 2011, President Obama gave a speech on the budget deficit that Vice President Joe Biden clearly found riveting. Biden appears to doze off for a full 30 seconds before returning from his peaceful slumber.
I Can See Russia From My House!
Sarah Palin’s disastrous interview with Katie Couric is now legendary. In fact, it was parodied on SNL by Tina Fey without the writers having to change a single word. The sketch was hilarious and Tina Fey’s impersonation was flawless. Here, Palin discusses her foreign policy credentials.