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18 Surprisingly Hilarious Quotes From U.S. Presidents

George Washington once wrote, “It is assuredly better to go laughing than crying thro’ the rough journey of life.” The first U.S. President wasn’t the only commander in chief to highlight the importance of humor. Dwight D. Eisenhower saw it as fundamental to the job, saying, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

Humor, of course, is subjective. Not everyone would have laughed when Herbert Hoover quipped, “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt,” or when Jimmy Carter drolly stated, “I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t seem to get my wife to go swimming.” And presumably not everyone would have found it funny that John Adams had a dog named Satan.

Some Presidents are known for their sense of humor, be it Lincoln’s sarcasm, Reagan’s endearing wit, or Obama’s fondness for dad jokes. Others became known more for their gaffes and unintentional word salads — perhaps most notably George W. Bush and his “Bushisms.” Who could forget, “They misunderestimated me”? Here are some examples of the former: funny quotes from U.S. Presidents who were deliberately trying to get a laugh.

If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it’s possible that I’m a little too awesome.
Barack Obama

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There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.
Andrew Jackson

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Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?
Abraham Lincoln

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He has no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.
Theodore Roosevelt on William McKinley

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I’m not worried about the deficit; it’s big enough to take care of itself.
Ronald Reagan

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How has retirement affected my golf game? A lot more people beat me now.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

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When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were.
John F. Kennedy

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Being President is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.
Lyndon B. Johnson

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Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger. In Texas, we call it walkin'.
George W. Bush

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

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I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.
Ronald Reagan

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I'm so overexposed I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse.
Barack Obama

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I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with any one who would be block-head enough to have me.
Abraham Lincoln

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Being President is like running a cemetery; you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.
Bill Clinton

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No matter how tough it gets, however, I have no intention of becoming a lame duck President — unless, of course, Cheney accidentally shoots me in the leg.
George W. Bush

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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 B. Johnson

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I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting.
Ronald Reagan

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These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.
Barack Obama

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Featured image credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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