Funny Quotes by U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents

Updated on August 24, 2019
lambservant profile image

Lori loves a good punchline. She loves to spread humor to make people laugh and not take life too seriously.

We often hear, "Kids say the darndest things." And surely they do. But presidents and vice presidents say silly things as well. We jump down their throats or insult them as being stupid and ignorant (in some cases it's true). But in my view, there are times they are plum worn out or are under great stress from governing this country, and they don't think before they speak. Most importantly, they are fallible human beings.

Sometimes they haven't done their homework or arithmetic, and some naturally possess a strong sense of humor. I particularly appreciate Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and Obama's humor. While I did not vote for Obama or support him in most areas, he was hilarious at those White House Correspondents dinners.

This country is a bad neighborhood in many ways. Fortunately, there is a lot of good if you keep your eyes open, or work hard to make it a better place on your own. To lighten things up a bit, I thought it would be fun to see the humor and humanity of fallible individuals holding the highest offices in the land. There are a few that might disgust you, but look at the bright side—they're not in office anymore.

Oops!

  • "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." Dan Quayle, 1989 Interview with Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer
  • ''Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.'' —George W. Bush, 2004 Signing ceremony for a defense-spending bill
  • "I was known as the chief grave robber of my state." Dan Quayle, August 17, 1988 Press Conference with George H.W. Bush.
  • "There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees." —Donald Trump, Cedar Rapids, Iowa rally, Feb. 1, 2016
  • “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” —Ronald Reagan, hot mic, off-camera joke while preparing for his brief weekly address on National Public Radio
  • "Frederick Douglas is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice." —Donald Trump, Black History Month breakfast. (Psst, Douglas died in 1895).
  • "The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. [on followup] No, not our nation's, but in World War II. I mean, we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century but in this century's history. —Dan Quayle, 1988 press conference
  • ''My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.'' —Harry S. Truman 1962
  • "The assets of Ayatollah Khomeini and his office will not be spared from sanctions." —Donald Trump, June 24, 2019 signing of an executive order to impose sanctions on Iran (Khomeini died in 1989).
  • "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." —George H.W. Bush, campaigning 1988
  • ''They misunderestimated me.'' —President George W. Bush, Nov. 6, 2000, Bentonvile, Arkansas
  • "I was known as the chief grave robber of my state." Dan Quayle, Press Conference with George H.W. Bush, August 17, 1988,


President Barack Obama, 2007–2017
President Barack Obama, 2007–2017 | Source

Touché

  • "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." —Abraham Lincoln, Address to Indiana Regiment August 14, 1862
  • "There's an extra spring in my step tonight. I don't know about you guys, but I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over. I mean, ISIL, North Korea, poverty, climate change, none of those things weighed on my mind like the validity of my birth certificate." —Barack Obama, responding to Donald Trump's insistence that Obama wasn't a natural citizen.
  • "I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." —Ronald Reagan, The Anderson-Reagan Presidential Debate September 21, 1980

Wit, Quips, and Wisecracks

  • "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case there is a national emergency - even if I'm in a cabinet meeting." —Ronald Reagan
  • The ten most dangerous words in the English language are "Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." —Ronald Reagan, remarks to Future Farmers of America, Jul. 28, 1988
  • "There are three periods in life: youth, middle age and 'how well you look.'" —Nelson Rockefeller, Washington Press Corp, December 15, 1976
  • "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar." —Thomas R. Marshall, 28th Vice President
  • “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." —Donald Trump
  • "Mothers may still want their favorite sons to grow up to be President but, according to a famous Gallup poll of some years ago, they do not want them to become politicians in the process. —John F. Kennedy, American Association of School Administrators Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey, February 19, 1957
  • "You know, it has been said that politics is the second oldest profession and I've come to realize over the last few years, it bears a great similarity to the first." —Ronald Reagan, Speech at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan on November 10, 1977)
  • "Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say 'On the one hand...on the other." —Harry Truman

President Ronald Reagan, 1981–1989
President Ronald Reagan, 1981–1989 | Source
  • "No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it." —John Adams
  • "There is no pleasure in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it." —Andrew Jackson
  • “Blessed are the young, for they will inherit the national debt.” —Herbert Hoover
  • "People say I'm indecisive, but I don't know about that." —George W. Bush
  • "If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth." —Chester A. Arthur
  • ''My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.'' —Jimmy Carter
  • "I always talk better lying down." —James Madison, on his deathbed
  • ''When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive.'' —George W. Bush
  • "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." —John F. Kennedy
  • "I have often wondered what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress." —Ronald Reagan
  • "Being President is like running a cemetery. You’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening." —Bill Clinton
  • "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." —Theodore Roosevelt

Self-Deprecating

  • ''These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.'' —Barack Obama, White House Correspondents' Association, 2013
  • "These stories about my intellectual capacity are really getting under my skin. For a while, I thought even my staff believed it. There on my schedule, first thing every morning it said 'Intelligence briefing." —George W. Bush
  • "I'm so over-exposed I’m making Paris Hilton look like a recluse." —Barack Obama. Washington Post, February 24, 2005


President Abraham Lincoln, 1861–1865
President Abraham Lincoln, 1861–1865 | Source

Friendly and Not-So-Friendly Barbs

  • "To Englishmen, life is a topic, not an activity." —William Harrison
  • "Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure. It's not your fault." —Donald Trump
  • "John Calhoun, if you secede from my nation I will secede your head from the rest of your body." —Andrew Jackson
  • ''Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won't stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.'' —Barack Obama
  • "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." —Gerald Ford, 1974 Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner
  • "I happen to mention that Kamala Harris is the best-looking attorney general in the country. As you might imagine, I got trouble when I got back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?" Barak Obama, White House Correspondance Dinner 2013

President Jimmy Carter, 1977–1981
President Jimmy Carter, 1977–1981 | Source
  • "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." —Ronald Reagan, during a 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale
  • ''The fact is I really do respect the press. I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be President; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I'm doing my job better.'' —Barack Obama
  • “When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.” —Theodore Roosevelt
  • "Cheney's a good man. He's got a good heart. [Pause] Well, he's a good man." —George W. Bush, 2006 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?" —Bill Clinton, 2000 White House Correspondent's Dinner

President Donald J. Trump, 2017–Present
President Donald J. Trump, 2017–Present | Source

Ridiculous or Appalling

  • ''I was under medication when I made the decision to burn the tapes.'' —Richard Nixon
  • "I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is temperament. I have a winning temperament." —Donald Trump, first debate against Hillary Clinton September 26, 2016
  • ''When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and never tried it again.'' —Bill Clinton, Sheraton Hotel on presidential campaign trail March 29, 1992
  • "A zebra does not change its spots.'' —Al Gore
  • ''What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.'' —Dan Quayle, address to the United Negro College Fund
  • '"I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix.'' —Dan Quayle
  • ''People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.'' —Richard Nixon, televised New conference Walt Disney World Florida Nov. 17, 1973
  • "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal." —Richard Nixon, 1977 interview with David Frost

President Bill Clinton, 1993–2001
President Bill Clinton, 1993–2001 | Source

Can You Believe It?

I could have written this whole article on Dan Quayle. I don't like to call people dumb or stupid, so I'll just say, how the heck did that guy get into office? He doesn't even know basic geography. And what about Nixon—hard to stomach, wasn't it?

There were a lot of funny things I read that I did not put into this piece. My goodness, our nation's leaders are just as flawed as the rest of us. George Dubya has a problem with mispronouncing words or for using malapropisms. He often poked fun at himself at the correspondent's dinners. Let this be a lesson to all of us: Let's be careful who we vote for.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Lori Colbo

    Comments

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      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        2 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Hi Lawrence, that was classic Reagan. The look on Mondale's face is priceless.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        2 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Lori.

        Really enjoyed these quotes. I always like President Reagan's sense of humour, I'm glad he wasn't the only President with one!

        My favourite here was Reagan and Senator Mondale, how he turned what was meant to be a barb against him into a joke and against his opponent

      • profile image

        lambservant 

        2 months ago

        Thanks for stopping by Mark.

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 

        2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks, Lori. I needed a few laughs today. Dan Quayle had some good ones.

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Bill, that one was one of my favorites too.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        3 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        I had trouble deciding which was my favorite until I read Jimmy Carter's take on troubles. He gets the gold medal from me!!!

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Could br Miss Paula.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        You know, you're absolutely correct about Reagan, Lori.......Must have been that Hollywood Advantage!.....

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Hi Paula, I always like Reagan best because he is so sharp and quick-witted and he's not a doofus. Glad you enjoyed it Paula. See my More Jokes from the Pulpit of Pastor Greg Laurie I posted last night. Talk about funny jokes.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        I'm sorry. I can't seem to choose the most ridiculous. They're all equally stupid or foolish or laughable. And these are our leaders? We might want to consider investigating & addressing this problem?? Always entertaining, Lori! I appreciate the moment of humor! Peace, Paula

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Hi Linda hands down Regan had a brilliant wit. I laughed out loud at the last one. I had not heard the one before. Thanks for sharing.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Many of these are almost tragic because of the stupidity, others are malapropisms (poor George), but some are so witty perhaps these guys could (or should) have done stand-up comedy instead of politics.

        My favorite (of the latter) is Ronald Reagan. For example, as he was being rolled into surgery following the failed assassination attempt, he is quoted as saying to the doctors “Please tell me you’re Republicans.” On that same theme, during a 1987 speech at the USAF Base in West Berlin, a balloon popped. It sounded very much like gunfire and without missing a beat, in the midst of his talk, Reagan quipped “Missed me.”

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Pop, I totally agree. Thanks for stopping by.

      • breakfastpop profile image

        breakfastpop 

        3 months ago

        And the winner is....Dan Quayle!

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        You know Eric, some of these gaffs are just part of being human. When we make them it's no big deal but if prominent people make them everyone is all over them. They are not allowed to be imperfect but I wiss say Nixon's comments were not funny but very stupid and disrespectful. Thanks so much for your kind words.

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        I'm with you Bill, the guy shouldn't have been if office. I'm sure he embarrassed President HW Bush.

      • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

        Lori Colbo 

        3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        Hi Pamela, I never knew what to think about Quayle. He said so many ridiculous things. It could have been stress, who knows. I wonder whatever happened to him.

        Ronald Reagan had such a keen, genius wit. I loved him for that. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        How fantastic. I had to think on some. I was "high" profile for a bit of my life. You had to make each sentence separate and a sound byte. You could not tell a story because one single word could sink you.

        Now I just screw up and my kids laugh.

        You are so talented it amazes me. See I did not say "it amazes me you are so talented".

        I love how you love words. Thanks

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Well I am clearing my schedule and brewing up a cup. Your articles are worth savoring. Be back.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        3 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Quayle was a piece of work. I think he missed a few years of schooling. I remember wondering each day what ridiculous thing he would say that day. lol

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        3 months ago from Sunny Florida

        This is a truly entertaining article. Dan Qual sure made many stupid remarks, and I don't think he is stupid. Maybe it was stress or something. Some of Ronald Regan's remarks are so funny. Lori, I really enjoyed this read.

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