Comedians in Chief? Funny Presidential Quotes

Obama jokes about his dubious birth certificate, Lincoln ribs some lawyers, and George W. Bush defends his, er, intelligence.

By Andy Simmons

During a state visit to Great Britain, President Ronald Reagan purportedly went horseback riding with Queen Elizabeth...

At one point, one of the horses passed gas quite loudly. The queen apologized, saying, “There are some things even royalty can’t control.” Reagan replied, “I’m glad you told me, or I would have thought it was the horse.”

Reagan wasn’t our only funny president. Here are some other gags from the occupants of the “Wit House.”

Love in the Time of Birthers

“There are few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.”

—President Barack Obama, at the 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Defending Dubya

“These stories about my intellectual capacity really get under my skin. You know, for a while I even thought my staff believed it. There on my schedule—first thing every morning—it said Intelligence Briefing.”    

—George W. Bush, at the 2001 Gridiron Club dinner

Inmate in Chief?

“I don’t know whether it’s the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the American penal system.”

—Bill Clinton, on the White House


“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: President Can’t Swim.”

—Lyndon Johnson

Honestly, Abe?

“He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met.”

—Abraham Lincoln, coining one of the first lawyer jokes in American history

His Old Ball and Chain

One day, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited a penitentiary. When FDR asked where she was, he was told, “She’s in prison.”

“I’m not surprised,” Roosevelt responded. “But what for?”

Pleading the Fifth

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.’”

—Teddy Roosevelt

Jack Attack

“It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat.”

—John Kennedy, answering a boy who asked how he became a war hero

Habitat for Handshakery

“My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now that when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”

—Jimmy Carter

Old Hickery (sic)

“It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”    
—Andrew Jackson

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