#2. A George W. Bush Liaison Ruins His Career With Utterly Pointless Plagiarism
People who don't follow politics religiously are probably unfamiliar enough with the name Timothy Goeglein that they'd probably assume we just made it up. But there was a time when he was a huge name behind the scenes. As a special assistant to George W. Bush, Goeglein helped the former president with a couple of little things, such as single-handedly orchestrating the right-wing voter surge that helped Bush get re-elected.
He could pretty much just write "Resume" at the top of this and call it a day.
As the president's public liaison, Goeglein directed political support for causes like restricting stem cell research, appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices, and organizing pro-abstinence programs in Africa.
And then he went and pooped it all away in a textbook example of stupid pointlessness.
Unfortunately for Bush (and the Bible Belt), Goeglein was eventually forced to abdicate his post because was caught plagiarizing in the most baffling way possible. It turns out the man had a hobby: When he wasn't hobnobbing with ultra-conservatives, he liked to submit unsolicited columns touting his views on education and other issues to an unassuming Fort Wayne publication called The News-Sentinel. One day, a former columnist for the newspaper noticed something familiar about one of Goeglein's pieces, started sniffing around, and found that it had been largely lifted from a Dartmouth College publication.
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"Why does he keep ending editorials with 'LET'S GO BIG GREEN!!'?"
The editors then took a look at some of the other pieces Goeglein had submitted, and found that he had stolen quotes and observations from published academics and journalists in 20 of his 38 columns, which were, we remind you, unsolicited. No one had asked this hard-boiled political machine to treat the paper as his personal Tumblr account -- he asked them to publish his plagiarized brainfarts, free of charge. Goeglein did this for eight years, and never once did he realize it was probably not the smartest of moves when your day job hinges on public trust.
Plus his choice of byline photo didn't help at all.
The ensuing publicity spelled the end of Goeglein's liaising. President Bush, never one to affiliate himself with unsavory political figures, amicably accepted his resignation.
#1. Joe Biden Ruined His Presidential Run With Repeat Plagiarism
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If you're even remotely familiar with Joe Biden, you probably know that the vice president is infamous for his verbal flubs. His uncanny knack for publicly requesting senators to "spread their legs for frisking" and inviting wheelchair-bound veterans to stand for applause is so legendary, it's a miracle he dares to open his mouth without consulting three separate spin doctors first.
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Not that he can't offend perfectly well without saying a word.
However, as much flack as Biden gets for his hilarious and inappropriate verbal miscues, at least those unequivocally belong to him and him alone ...
We like to think that Biden's verbal anti-talent trumps stealing material from more gifted political orators, like he did in 1987 during his own campaign for the presidential throne.
Biden was a dark horse in the Democratic candidate race, when a lucky exit of a major opponent significantly increased his chances. This lasted right up until it was discovered that he blatantly and repeatedly stole whole pages from literally everyone else's speech books.
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"Mr. Biden gave a really moving speech, but did that 'I have a dream' part feel strangely familiar to you, too?"
First, he used phrases lifted from the British Labor Party's Neil Kinnock, who had actually lost his bid to become prime minister. Still, he had a lot of fun, blue collar anecdotes, so Biden shrugged and started using huge sections of Kinnock's stuff for his own public appearances. At first, Biden attributed the quotes to the man they belonged to, but eventually he got carried away. He even had his staffers conjure up fake relatives and other misleading ornamentation to decorate Kinnock's quotes as stories about his own life.
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"... Which ties nicely into something my uncle William once said while fighting for Scottish independence in 1305."
Biden wasn't happy with just one Kinnock, either: He wanted to be all the politicians. He was caught lifting significant lines from heavyweights such as Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, and even JFK himself. Adding to the embarrassment of the whole debacle was Biden's later admission that he had failed a law school course for -- all together now -- plagiarizing five pages of a published work.
Although Biden inevitably had to withdraw from the race, time would reveal that no obstacle can keep a good man down forever ... even when said obstacle is the good man himself.
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Related Reading: You know who else was a plagiarist? Everyone else you admire, including Martin Luther King Jr. It gets worse: Led Zeppelin stole shamelessly. And if your world isn't shattered yet, John Williams is a damn dirty thief too.