The single best joke told by every president, from Obama to Washington

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Friday, 03/11/2017 05:11

Presidential humor is only a half-step from dad humor, which in the world of comedy is considered light treason. But we’ve tried to find at least one zinger from every U.S. president, to mark President Obama’s final set of stand-up comedy at his eighth White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday. Some zingers have less zing than others. Some are flat, some are apocryphal, some are just threats and some, in the case of Warren Harding, are quaint, loving references to the chief executive genitalia. But they are presidential, by definition, and therefore funny, by acclamation.




Barack Obama, at the 2012 White House correspondents’ dinner

“I have a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”


George W. Bush, at the 2006 White House correspondents’ dinner

“Cheney’s a good man. He’s got a good heart. [Pause] Well, he’s a good man.”


Bill Clinton, at the 2000 White House correspondents’ dinner

“Over the last few months I’ve lost 10 pounds. Where did they go? Why haven’t I produced them to the independent counsel? How did some of them manage to wind up on Tim Russert?”


George H.W. Bush, at the 1989 Gridiron Club dinne

“People say I’m indecisive, but I don’t know about that.


Ronald Reagan, to protesters at UCLA

“‘Make love not war’? By the looks of you, you don’t look like you could do much of either.”


Jimmy Carter, riffing at the 1979 correspondents’ dinner about the old White House indoor swimming pool that Richard Nixon covered over to build the press room

Press Secretary Jody Powell “has been trying to persuade me to reopen the White House swimming pool — suddenly. . . Any of you that survive would, of course, have permanent swimming privileges.”


Gerald Ford, at a boozy Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner in 1974

“At a time when funds for the defense budget may be cut, it’s comforting to see so many of the big guns from your industry still getting loaded.”


Richard Nixon, in Ms. magazine in 1971 when asked about women’s lib

“Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I wouldn’t want to wake up next to a lady pipefitter.”


Lyndon Johnson, on Ford

“So dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”


John F. Kennedy, responding to criticism that Robert Kennedy wasn’t qualified to be attorney general

“I don’t see anything wrong with giving Bobby a little legal experience before he goes out on his own to practice law.”


Dwight D. Eisenhower, when asked to name one big decision that Nixon helped make as vice president

“If you give me a week, I might think of one.”


Harry S. Truman, on Adlai Stevenson

“He’s no better than a regular sissy.”


Franklin D. Roosevelt, when told his wife was in a prison

“I’m not surprised. But what for?”


Herbert Hoover

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”


Calvin Coolidge, on Hoover

“That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad.”


Warren G. Harding, referring to his penis, which he named Jerry, in a 1915 love letter to his mistress Carrie Fulton Phillips

“Jerry — you recall Jerry, whose cards I once sent you to Europe — came in while I was pondering your notes in glad reflection, and we talked about it.”


Theodore Roosevelt, on Taft

“A flub-dub with a streak of the second rate and common in him.”


William McKinley, to his outgoing secretary of state, William R. Day, after he expressed sadness for leaving.

“Well, Judge Day, every change so far in the office of secretary of state has been an improvement!”


Grover Cleveland

“No man has ever yet been hanged for breaking the spirit of a law.”


Benjamin Harrison

“When I hear a Democrat boasting himself of the age of his party, I feel like reminding him that there are other organized evils in the world older than the Democratic party.”


Chester A. Arthur, dishing at a Republican banquet about how his ticket won Indiana

“If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth.”

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