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Andrew Johnson only became president because he was the vice president at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. He inherited a divided country that was recovering from the just-concluded Civil War. Tensions were high, and there were fears that another civil war was in the works. President Johnson himself did not help matters. He was an unrefined, sulky, and bad-tempered racist who blamed everyone except himself for his problems. Politicians described him as someone who was worse than one could have ever thought. He often fought with Congress and once called for the lynching of a congressman. Another time, he got drunk and compared himself to Jesus.
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In 2005, President George W. Bush embarrassed himself when he was unable to open a door during a state visit to China. He was having a news session with reporters when one asked him whether he had a problem, since he looked uninterested and uneasy and seemed to be in a hurry during an earlier meeting with Chinese president Hu Jintao. Instead of answering the question, President Bush asked the reporter if he had ever heard of jet lag before adding, “Well, good. That answers your question.”
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On May 18, 1993, Los Angeles International Airport allegedly experienced flight delays, which were attributed to President Bill Clinton getting an haircut inside Air Force One. Two of the airport’s four runways were shut down in preparation for Air Fore One’s departure, and according to spokespeople for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), several airplanes circled overhead as they awaited clearance to land. Air Force One itself remained on the runway with its engine running.
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On January 8, 1992, President George H.W. Bush turned himself into the butt of the joke after he vomited on the lap of Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa during a state dinner in Tokyo. President Bush wasn’t feeling too well and had even vomited before the dinner. His personal physician, Dr. Burton Lee, advised him to forgo the dinner and go to bed, but he refused.
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In 2001, President Bush was trying to prove his Spanish-speaking prowess when he unwittingly called the Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, a goose. In an interview with a Spanish television, he misspoke Prime Minster Aznar’s name as “Anzar,” which sounds like ansar, the Spanish word for “goose.” In response to this and several other gaffes, one Spanish newspaper described President Bush’s Spanish as being “a little chronic.” He often jumbled words and missed the proper pronunciation and accent.
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In January 1970, Richard Nixon introduced new uniforms to replace the black ceremonial uniforms of the Secret Service agents guarding the White House. Nixon felt the old uniforms weren’t cool enough, and he had gotten the idea of these cooler uniforms from what he had seen in Europe. He was also hoping to impress British prime minister Harold Wilson, who was being expected for a state visit, with the new uniforms.
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President Nixon had a cat and mouse relationship with the press throughout his tenure. They took pride in exposing his dirty dealings, while he fought back by censoring them and attempting to retrieve their licenses. He also added reporters to his enemy list and had the FBI snoop into their private lives and find out if they were homosexuals. Nixon had a list of 20 journalists he wanted to destroy. The first was Jack Anderson, who had been exposing him for over two decades, since long before he became president.
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For a state visit to Poland in 1977, the State Department hired a freelance translator to translate President Carter’s speeches to his Polish audiences. The translator was Steven Seymour, and he was paid $150 a day for his services. Unfortunately, Seymour was terrible at translation. He mixed Russian with Polish, used Polish idioms that were out of use, and mistranslated Carter’s statements. In the end, the US became the butt of Polish jokes, and the White House issued an apology.
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Proponents of the Hollow Earth theory believe there is a space in the middle of the Earth. Inside that space is a more advanced civilization with their own sun, which has been blamed for global warming. This advanced civilization (do we call them aliens?) is also guilty of coming into our part of the Earth, which explains several UFO sightings. Believers say there are three ways to reach the Inner Earth. One is through a hole at the North Pole, another is through a hole at the South Pole, and the third is through a hole in the Himalayas.
One of the followers of this theory was John Cleves Symmes, Jr., who even planned an expedition to find the hole at the North Pole. Along with James McBride, he lobbied Congress to sponsor the expedition. Congress refused, since everyone already knew the Earth was not hollow, and there was no civilization in the middle of the planet. However, President John Quincy Adams agreed that Congress should fund the trip.James McBride later funded the trip, but Symmes was stopped by President Adams’s successor, Andrew Jackson
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In 1958, Richard Nixon was the vice president when he unknowingly smuggled drugs past customs at New York’s Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport). Nixon was at the airport when he met jazz musician and US State Department ambassador Louis Armstrong, who was standing in the line awaiting customs. Armstrong had just returned from an international tour, and inside his suitcase were 1.4 kilograms (3 lb) of marijuana.
Nixon walked up to Armstrong and asked him what he was doing in the line. Armstrong said he had just returned from an international tour and was waiting to be checked in by customs. Nixon carried his suitcase and told him, “Ambassadors don’t have to go through customs, and the Vice President of the United States will gladly carry your bags for you,” before both men walked past customs. When Nixon learned the truth several years later, he exclaimed, “Louie smokes marijuana?”