Every day it gets harder to tell the difference between real life and the wacky, exaggerated reality of editorial cartoons. When you have a presidential candidate saying we should close our borders to all Muslims and stating that the party he's representing is made up of "the dumbest group of voters in the country," it's easy to see why people fall for bullshit political stories these days. Case in point: Donald Trump never said that about Republicans. Some meme-maker made it up.
Well, as it turns out, this is nothing new. Some of the most famous political talking points of the past decade were faker than Trump's ... university? Tweets? Birth certificate, ironically? We can't decide how to end that sentence. In the heat of a Facebook flame war, most of us have unwittingly repeated at least one of the following inaccuracies, misquotes, or flat-out lies:
8Bush's "Mission Accomplished" Banner Wasn't Referring To The War
Hey, remember this dumb old thing?
AP via The Nation
Arrested Development reference! Nice.
When George W. Bush gave a 2003 speech on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," the only way it could have been more American would have been if he had shot a communist after every sentence. But as time passed and Iraq grew more violent, what was supposed to be the president's crowning moment of badassery instead became a symbol of hubris and disdain over a supposedly easy conflict turning into a bigger quagmire than that game of Civilization you just can't get unstuck in.
But here's the thing: That banner wasn't Bush's idea. The Navy says they asked the White House to make the banner to celebrate the aircraft carrier's record-breaking deployment length. Other explanations have been batted around, but the general consensus seems to be that someone thought it would be cool to let the carrier crew celebrate their hard work, and then no one bothered to think through the optics, because giant banners are fun.
Juan E. Diaz/U.S. Navy
"Told you we should have gone with 'Git-R-Done.'"
That makes sense when you read the transcript of the speech, which includes things like "We have difficult work to do in Iraq" and "Our mission continues." In fact, Donald Rumsfeld personally kept the words "mission accomplished" out of the speech, because he'd seen Baghdad and knew it wasn't. Considering Iraq's current state, landing in a fighter plane and giving an upbeat speech still looks bad, but it wasn't the completely myopic clusterfuck we all remember it as. Political scandals are only ever allowed to be the greatest blunders ever or completely unjustifiable attacks, and in this case we settled on the former.
7Al Gore Never Claimed To Have Invented The Internet
If you're a veteran Internetter, you've no doubt heard a joke or 80 about Al Gore inventing this wonderful, terrifying non-place we all live in. That, of course, isn't true: Everyone knows it was ... some nerds, probably. The claim is so absurd that people still use it to take cheap shots at the former vice president, like when Bobby Jindal sarcastically suggested that Gore could fix Healthcare.gov's launch problems.
Except Gore never said that. In 1999, during an otherwise everyday interview, Big Al was asked what made him different from a fellow Democratic presidential candidate, and he said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." What Gore was alluding to was his longstanding Congressional support of bills that funded relevant work, but the awkward phrasing made it sound like he was claiming he threw the Internet together in his garage over a weekend.
Peter Kramer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Probably while high as fuck with his college roommate.
The bad wording would have been forgotten if a Wired writer hadn't needed a quick filler article and decided to poke fun at Gore's claim. The article went viral, and a legend was born. A year later, the Wired writer put out another piece saying that all the exaggeration of his first article was both dumb and completely obscuring the fact that Gore was actually essential in getting the Internet off the ground. Sadly, by then the damage was done and Gore lost the 2000 election to Bush for that reason and absolutely no others that are coming to mind. Who needs the White House when you've got the Internet Hall of Fame, anyway?