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5 Great Moments Where Political Figures Were Caught Cursing

Former President George W. Bush, answering questions during a 2007 press conference, could let the salty language fly.
Former President George W. Bush, answering questions during a 2007 press conference, could let the salty language fly. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
It's actually refreshing to hear political figures such as Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders and, yes, even former President Donald Trump throwing out curse words. For starters, it's fun to watch the prudes in the crowd squirm when someone blurts out a "fuck" or a "shit" on a microphone, then pretend to be possessed by the spirits of genteel Southern belles over "such language."

More important, they cut through the bullshit and get right to the point. Curse words are an expressive, direct and wonderful part of any language. They capture people's attention and can tell you a lot about a person's thought process and behavior.

This, however, is only a recent view. Over the years, we've been so fearful of naughty language that we've put people in jail just for saying bad words, regardless of the reason or context. We've also thrown heaps of "shame, shame, everyone knows your name" on those caught cursing on a mic they didn't know was on. It turns out, these people were pioneering an art of political discourse that's now become a goddamn standard of campaigning.
1. Governor George W. Bush
George W. Bush's presidential bid had more missteps than a jogging path full of potholes.

The flubs started with simple mispronunciations that seemed almost quaint, but when you put the likes of Dick Cheney on the ticket, the expletives couldn't help but fly. The guy is like a curse word magnet. During a campaign stop in Naperville, Illinois, in 2000, Dubya and Cheney had just finished greeting a crowd of supporters when they noticed reporter Adam Clymer of The New York Times in the crowd. Apparently, the two disliked Clymer's coverage of their campaign because Dubya said to Cheney right into the microphone, "There’s Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from The New York Times." Cheney audibly agreed. You know you've fucked up when Cheney is the one restraining himself.
2. President George W. Bush
We all know what happened next, so let's skip ahead to Bush's second term as president. In 2006, Bush's faltering war in Iraq and neglected efforts in Afghanistan led to unrest throughout the Middle East. His military strategies also didn't help our dwindling allies like then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who pretty much tanked his career over his relationship and support for the Bush administration.

President Bush got caught saying a no-no word during what he thought was a private discussion with Blair during the Group of Eight summit in Russia, which alone led to a whole other mess with Russia's authoritative regime that now produces more curse words than a Friars' Club roast.

Apparently, Bush was none too pleased with how the United Nations handled the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in which the authoritative Lebanese political party funded military operations with backing from Iran and Syria. President Bush got caught saying, "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over" and everyone got all bent out of shape over the curse word and not the whole fighting and killing thing because, you know, priorities.
3. Vice President Joe Biden
Our current president is known for making more than a flub or two, even when he wasn't in the highest office in the land. It's like his mouth and brain are wired by two different car batteries, and the one that powered his mouth needs some baking soda on the connections.

President Barak Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the first meaningful piece of health care reform in Christ knows how long. Despite the doomsday scenarios from the other side that the bill would put people's grandparents in some kind of mandatory suspended animation prison like the one in Minority Report, it helped Obama and Biden's numbers once the rocky rollout of its enrollment process got fixed.

So emotions were high and Biden's mouth got the better of him again when he introduced the president after applauding his efforts on the ACA at a White House Christmas dinner in 2010. President Obama approached the podium and the two shook hands. Biden pulled Obama in close and said into his ear and a working microphone, "This is a big fucking deal."

And no, this wouldn't be the last time.
4. President Joe Biden
Now that President Biden is a little older and under a lot more pressure, the flubs are only more likely to happen. The only reason they haven't completely overtaken our attention is because the guy he replaced was known for standing behind mics and producing hearty word salads tossed with stupid without caring whether the mic was on or not.

President Biden really embarrassed himself at the start of 2022 during a White House Press event, even if he's right. Fox News reporter Peter Doocy questioned the president as to whether the rise in inflation might be a "political liability" for his administration. Biden thought the tiny mic just inches from his face was off and said in a sarcastic tone, "No, it's a great asset. What a stupid son of a bitch." Had the mic stayed on a little longer, we might have heard how Biden would've "scissor-kicked the prick with my bitching Taekwondo skills" or something.
5. Rep. Ike Skelton
This late Republican representative from Missouri may have a name that sounds like a 1930s dance craze, but he also has one of the most infamous hot mic moments in Congressional history. Technically, that's only about a third of the country's history since Washington officials have only used microphones for the last 90 of its 233 years, but there must be an old-timey politician who got caught cussing out an underling in front of a hot megaphone.

Skelton approached the mic to address fellow Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin. You remember Akin. He's the guy who sunk his campaign, career and any hope of being acknowledged by another human female by claiming that women don't need access to abortion because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down." It's so easy to forget that he wasn't just a sexist, misogynist pig who believed the female reproduction system had its own occupying army of ovary fairies. He was also a race-baiting jerk.

Akin spoke out against a defense bill in 2009 on the floor of the U.S. House, objecting to a hate crime measure that he called "poisonous enough in fact that we refuse to be blackmailed into voting for a piece of social agenda that has no place in this bill." Skelton disagreed with the attempt by Akin and other Republicans to stall the bill over something only true evil would object to passing. So as Skelton stepped to the mic to introduce another representative, he turned to Akin, sitting just behind him, and muttered, "So stick it up your ass."

Fortunately, the male body has a way to shut those things down and by things, I mean Akin's career and legacy. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.