In the wake of 4th of July, we’re all still basking in that patriotic, America-fuck-yeah glow. Sure, the long weekend is over, but our love of country and pyrotechnics will probably last us for at least a few more days.
So in honor of the grand ol’ 4th, we have compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest, and most badass presidential facts that you probably did not know. SPOILER: Our nation’s leaders are some weird ass men.
1. Teddy Roosevelt had a badger thrown at him, got shot, walked on stilts? Also excellent namer of guinea pigs and bears.
Teddy was a cool guy. Everybody knows it. Proof: they named Teddy Bears after him. (Granted, it was because he famously refused to shoot a tied up bear because killing a tied down animal was an affront to his manliness.)
Anyway, the weird shit:
Teddy was on tour, going through the Midwest and shaking hands, kissing babies, going to church and all that stuff when some little girl walks up to him and goes “Yo, you want my baby badger?” And Teddy’s like, “…uh, sure!” So the little girl runs home to get her badger, but by the time she gets back, she’s crestfallen to see that Teddy’s train is pulling out. Desperate to give the man the badger, she literally throws the badger at his train. I don’t use literally here incorrectly- she threw a fucking badger at him.
And Teddy’s like, “Sweet! A badger! I’ll bring you home! I shall call him Josiah and he shall be mine!” So the badger lived in the White House and would chase people around and bite at their ankles until Teddy was like, “Okay you little shit, you’re going to the Bronx Zoo.” I guess it would be annoying to have a badger around when you’re trying to practice your stilt walking. Yeah, you heard me. Stilts. Teddy and his whole family (including the first lady) owned and operated stilts, and would try them on for shits and giggles.
Teddy will always be remembered in history as a straight up badass. He got shot twice during a speech, and he stopped, probably cursed, and then kept going. He also was the proud papa to multiple geunea pigs, which he named Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, Admiral Dewey, and Father O’Grady. They also had a bear cub with the distinguished name of Jonathan Edwards.
But that’s still not as cool as having a badger.
2. Jimmy Carter saw a UFO: denies everything
Before his presidency, Jimmy Carter was giving a speech one day when he looks up in the sky and sees a floating object that he could not identify. He was so startled by this that he actually filed a report with the UFO Bureau (Mulder Sr. was THRILLED), detailing his experience. People loved to ask him about it, and he never denied seeing it. It apparently it had a huge impact on his life, because when he campaigned for president he kept talking about it. In an interview, Carter swore that if he was elected president, he would fight to erase the stigma connected with UFO sightings, and make all reports and incidents common knowledge. In addition, he wanted to explore and dedicate funding towards researching UFO sightings.
After he got elected, some wise staff member must have been like, “Yo, shut the hell up, you sound crazy as shit,” and Jimmy suddenly stopped talking about it and answering questions about the event. He claimed that he could not discuss it due to “defense implications.” Sure. He never followed through on his promises, and later issued a statement claiming that he never believed his sighting was connected to extraterrestrial beings.
Later on, ufologist (yes, that’s a word) concluded that what Jimmy had seen was actually the view of Venus on a very clear night.
Good job Jimmy.
3. Lyndon B. Johnson liked his Johnson. A lot.
I can’t think of a witty way to introduce this one, so I’m just going to be blunt. Johnson was obsessed with his penis. It’s one of those facts that was widely know about the president at the time, but through the ages it has fallen out of common knowledge and been overshadowed by tiny things like the Vietnam War and Nixon and shit.
Johnson had a habit of exposing himself—repeatedly—to staff, cabinet members, and even reporters. During an interview a reporter once asked him, “Why are we in Vietnam?” Johnson struggled for a response and then, lost for words, simply whipped out his dick. As ridiculous as this sounds, the worst part is that the reporter just accepted this as an answer, and it wasn’t reported.
Johnson had a very relaxed approach to presidential proceedings. During cabinet meetings, he would often excuse himself to go use the bathroom—but then leave the door open and continue talking to the cabinet while on the john. When foreign dignitaries visited the White House, it wasn’t unheard of for Johnson to invite them to go skinny-dipping before any official proceedings. According to Johnson, this “established genital dominance.”
Johnson’s Johnson—affectionately named “Jumbo,” was his favorite topic of conversation. But the kicker?
A few years after Johnson left office, a senior staff member was talking to a reporter. “It honestly really wasn’t that big actually,” the staff member said. “I remember being unimpressed and thinking it was actually smaller than average.”
4. George Herbert Walker Bush puked on the Japanese Prime Minister
In 1992, George Bush (Sr.) went to Japan to meet with the Japanese Prime Minister. During dinner (which was televised), Bush turned to the PM, vomited all over him, and then fainted.
While I feel very bad for President. Bush, the best part of this story is that several years later a slang word was introduced into the Japanese language- Bushu-suru meaning “to do the Bush thing,” or to vomit publicly.
5. Franklin D. Roosevelt was photographed in a dress
Each day our preconceptions are challenged. History yields surprising new information that changes the way we think. We’ve known for awhile now that gender norms were (shocking!) looser than we previously thought in ye olden days.
6. Andrew Johnson looked like Tommy Lee Jones
7. Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, bartender, long-armed giant
So it’s common knowledge that good ol’ Abe was an ugly son of a bitch. He was a giant person, but historians are also fairly positive that he suffered from Marfan’s disease, which makes your arms super crazy long. So the guy was already 10 feet tall, and then he has these crazy long arms (which are super muscular from all that axe-swinging and vampire slaying), and he probably looked like a total weirdo. And then when he was elected president, some girl writes to him and goes, “Hey Mr. President, you are ugly as crap. Maybe you should grow a beard to cover some of your ugliness?” And then he did.
8. John Quincy Adams liked to skinny dip: journalist steals his clothes
Haven’t we all wanted to do this to someone? A journalist came across Mr. President swimming naked in the Potomac and was like, “This asshole has refused to give me any interviews, so Imma steal his clothes until the assface consents.” And he did. Fun fact, his dad named a dog Satan.
9. James Polk got elected because he promised not to run again
Oh my God guys, James Polk. Greatest president ever. He ran for president and was like, “Here are the problems facing the country. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m gonna fix it. And then when I’m done, I’m gonna leave, and I’m not going to run for a second term.” AND HE FIXED THEM, AND THEN HE DIDN’T RUN AGAIN.
MOTHERFUCKING JAMES POLK, GUYS.
10. Barack Obama: huge geek.
Our current sitting president ran on a platform of being cool, collected and professional…and then he got elected, and let loose to an interviewer that one of his favorite pastimes is collecting comic books. And we’re not just talking about Spiderman. He’s a huge Conan the Barbarian fan.
I didn’t know anyone was a Conan the Barbarian fan.