Politicians! The stony-faced leaders of the worlds many nation-states and superpowers often seem very distant from the everyday men and women of Britain.
They carry great responsibility and the expectations of millions of people (when not being caught with their hands in the till or creepily hanging around young models). They moderate crises, prevent or declare war and hopefully ensure the best possible future for proles like you and me.
Of course, behind the picture-perfect, media bait public image are ordinary human beings who put their foot in their mouth, unleash Racist-Grandma-Seal-of-Approval jingoisms, dance like your mental uncle at a wedding then get drunk and disorderly in Parliament.
As the Mayor of London recently reminded us – its funny as hell, so lets celebrate the slips that expose politicans’ human side.
8: Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat (and Cheeky Boy)
As the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Wales and Northern Ireland in 2006, Lembit began dating Gabriela Irimia, of pop duo The Cheeky Girls (best known for intellectual, post-modern masterpiece “The Cheeky Song” aka “Touch My Bum”) after the break-up of a long-term relationship.
17 years his junior, the Romanian pop-star had, at first, “Never been so much in love,” according to her twin Monica. Within two years, following an engagement at the Trevy Fountains in Rome, the Cheeky Girl was refusing to answer his calls or see him.
Plenty of fish in the sea mate.
7: Harold Holt, 17th Prime Minister of Australia (and possible merman?)
Harold Holt had been Prime Minister for only 22 months when, one Sunday morning in December 1967, he visited Cheviot beach to see English yachtsman Alec Rose on his solo circumnavigation of the globe. Despite the beach being notorious for rip tides and strong currents, Harold abruptly decided to go for a swim – and nothing has been seen or found of him since.
He has since become an urban legend in Australia, with theories on his disappearance ranging from UFOs to kidnapping by a Chinese submarine.
6) Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France (and comedic insecurities)
Its a proven fact that tall people are considered more trustworthy, irrespective of the truth. Though 5’5″ French President Sarkozy cannot be blamed for not qualifying for this advantage, restraint from sniggering became difficult when he hung a lampshade on it – by being caught standing on a 6 inch footstool while giving his speech at this year’s D-Day commemorations in Normandy.
5: Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales (and dancing Queen)
1998 finds Prince Charlie in Sheffield, getting first hand experience of things being grim up in’t North. Charles winds up in a dole queue photo opportunity resembling a scene from popular film of the time, The Full Monty, in which cast members in a similar queue dance to the song The Right Stuff.
Naturally, some funny bugger played the track in the Job Centre – Charles, clearly not thinking about the massive potential for awkwardness and mocking, replicates the pelvic-thrust dance from the film.
At this point, I remain unsure as to the better pun to finish this section with, so you can choose – The Dull Monty, or You Sexy King?
4: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Mayor of London (and Football Death-Machine)
Ha! Bet you didn’t know that was his full name (he kept that one quiet).
Aside from a tendency towards unfortunate remarks, Boris’ finest hour remains his infamous appearance in a 2006 “Celebrities versus Legends” charity football match in which he clearly attempts to brutally murder German midfielder Maurizio Gaudino.
Ol’ Mophead seems to have confused “charity” with the sin of wrath. His response: “There was no malice. I was going for the ball with my head, which I understand is a legitimate move in soccer.”
3: Boris Nicholayevich Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation (and Amateur Conductor)
Yeltsin was Russia’s first popularly elected leader, serving between 1991 and 1999 after 69 years of communism, that you may have heard about. Unfortunately, his time in power was marred by huge corruption, economic collapse and social issues which led to staggering amounts of money and influence falling into the pockets of a few canny people known as Oligarchs while most people went hungry.
Wikipedia claims that, “According to numerous reports, Yeltsin struggled with alcoholism.” My sources (Youtube) confirm this observation.
A diplomatic sojourn to Berlin remains the most famous of Boz’s escapades, including a marvellous (drunken?) attempt to conduct an orchestra. What makes it funnier? Eyewitnesses claim Mr. Yeltsin was singing along. Bear in mind Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry in the world and try to enjoy your day.
2: Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Consort to the Queen (and Diplomatic Nightmare)
In June, it turned out that the Royal Family cost each UK taxpayer 69p per person every year, this being followed by the usual hard-headed arguments between royal supporters and anti-royals as to their purpose and whether we even need them in the modern world.
Personally, I couldn’t care less – I part with 69p a year just for Prince Philip and consider the rest of them a free gift. Since Edward I, “The Hammer of the Scots”, who invaded Ireland, Wales, Scotland and much of France, there has not been a single man who has done more to screw up England’s international relations.
My personal favourite gaff (there are many) from the Duke of Hazard is doubtlessly his conversation with a British student in China during a 1986 tour, in which he remarked, “If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.” This comes from a Royal in a communist country. A communist country renowned for being secretive and closed off to the rest of the world. No, Philip! No!
The list continues. Phil on the 1981 recession – “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.“
To a Brit in Papua New Guinea – “You managed not to get eaten then?”
To a Scottish driving instructor – “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
To Australian Aborigines – “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
1: George Walker Bush, President of the United States (His entire, beautiful political career)
Ok, so you probably already knew who was going to come in first place. I feel that we owe it to him – Georgie’s 8-year term was a golden age for political comedy. Suddenly, anybody could make funny observations about the man at the top. America had elected, not once but TWICE, a man who talked and acted as though he’d suffered a major head injury. Barack Obama might be capable and intelligent, but he’s a great deal harder to poke fun at
One video, image or quote couldn’t do justice to the majesty of Dubya’s gift to satirists worldwide, to its breadth and depth, its variance and majesty. Its difficult to know where to begin. His Presidential Speechalisms? Dick “Hunting Accident” Cheney twitching W’s strings to make him dance? Disenfranchising one in eight African-American men in Florida? Legalising torture? (Hint: some of these aren’t funny, don’t laugh).
It is, of course, necessary to quote some of his now legendary verbal pileups.
“Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” –discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson in 2003
“Tribal sovereignty means that; it’s sovereign. I mean, you’re a — you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.”
“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”
The world thanks (and mocks) you, America, though I think we’ll all breathe much more easily now that you’ve elected someone with a three figure IQ. Now if you folks don’t mind, I’m going into hiding before my house is besieged by enraged online Republicans.