6 Presidential Secrets Your History Teacher Didn't Mention
We're pretty sure that 99 percent of a politician's success lies in his or her ability to hide his or her true personality from the public. We all have personal failures and weaknesses, but a president will work so hard at crafting a specific public persona that we're shocked every time one gets caught getting blown by an intern.
With that in mind, here are some of the stranger facts about American presidents that almost never get mentioned in history class.
Lyndon Johnson Was a Dong-Waving Sex Machine
Lyndon Johnson took over as president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and today most people know him as the president who made Vietnam happen (he being the one who really escalated the conflict). He wasn't terribly popular and had his share of scandals.
That drink in his hand is pretty much straight Everclear.
But at the time, he did have a reputation for getting things done. When he wanted something passed, he'd badger the shit out of everybody to get it, so much so that people came to call his relentless lobbying "the Johnson Treatment." We bring that up because after reading this, you're going to picture something else entirely anytime someone threatens you with "the Johnson Treatment." Something much worse.But you didn't know ...
Johnson was a sexual beast, and also fond of (literally) waving his dick around.
"Ford's economics are the worst thing that's happened to this country since pantyhose ruined finger-fucking."
While other unfaithful presidents were satisfied with little affairs here and there, Johnson's bevy of babes was referred to by his male aides as a harem (he was said to be jealous of Kennedy's womanizing ways and wanted to top him). Johnson would make passes at secretaries, and it was known that any who accepted would be promoted to private secretary, two words that in this context should probably have air quotes around them anytime they are uttered. By the time he was done, virtually all of his secretaries, plus his two mistresses, got the Johnson Treatment.
He then tasked the Secret Service with keeping his philandering from his wife, but it obviously did not do a good job at that. His wife had full knowledge of everything and sometimes even supported it. At parties, he would make obvious passes at girls right in front of his wife. One of the girls who stayed over at his place got awakened in the middle of the night by Johnson holding a flashlight and saying, "Move over. This is your president."
Which goes down in history as the second-greatest pickup line ever, losing just barely to, "Hello, I'm an astronaut."
As for waving around his cock (a little extension of him that he had affectionately nicknamed "Jumbo"), he was said to piss in public whenever he felt like it, and if anyone dared confront him, he would whip his dick around and challenge the poor sap with, "Have you seen anything bigger than this?"
No wonder his wife was cool with it.
She wasn't down with the mullet, though.
Related: Reminder: You're More Likely To Be Struck By Lightning Than Get A Blood Clot From The Johnson & Johnson Jab
Ulysses S. Grant Was Afraid of Everything
Ulysses S. Grant was the epitome of American badassery, a hard-drinking bastard who before taking office had been responsible for over half of the Union victories in the Civil War. Less well known is that before that, Grant also demonstrated extreme heavy ballness in the Mexican-American War when he voluntarily rode his horse down a sniper-filled street just for the hell of it. Then he calmly smoked cigars while everyone was scared shitless and being bombarded by artillery shells.
That plume of smoke in the middle is Grant.
But you didn't know ...
Ulysses S. Grant was a big softie.
For one thing, despite all his military excellence and awesome battlefield experience, he freaked out at the sight of blood -- even rare steaks would creep him out.
On the left, something that freaked U.S. Grant the fuck out. On the right, his day job.
He was so shy that he wouldn't change or shower in front of his men. And if you're thinking that you don't particularly like showing your naked junk to other dudes either, remember that they were at war. Officers bathed by stripping and having their men pour water on them. It was the same for everybody -- there is no privacy in a huge camp with thousands of men. Everybody except for Grant, who hid in his tent.
In his defense, most of his men were incredibly gross
Speaking of hiding, Grant did the same thing at his daughter's wedding, even though the situation obviously did not require him to be naked. While everybody was out celebrating , Grant had a sudden onslaught of the wedding jitters and holed himself up in his room while crying hysterically.
Seriously, if the man didn't have shells exploding around him, he fell apart.
Above: less stressful than the average wedding.
Related: Cary Grant Took LSD (100 Times)
Gerald Ford Was a Male Fashion Model
Some of us know Gerald Ford only as the clownish, doofus president that Chevy Chase mocked in old-school Saturday Night Live episodes. Before that he was known for being was the first president in U.S. history who got the job by doing absolutely nothing, having been appointed vice president because of one scandal, and then appointed president due to another. He made the controversial decision to pardon Richard Nixon, and he generally lives in history as a goofball who stumbled through a short, accidental presidency.
But you didn't know ...
Gerald Ford was Derek Zoolander.
That's pretty much "Blue Steel," right there.
Before he got into politics, he was a male model and even owned a modeling agency.
He wasn't just small-time, either. Here he is on the cover of Cosmopolitan:
Seriously. That's not a fake cover.
When Ford was in his 20s, he was modeling part-time for an agency owned by one John Robert Powers, who went on to become serious shit. During Ford's time there, he became roomies with one Harry Conover, who also was a model. Conover wanted to start his own modeling agency, but lacked the money. So Ford chipped in $1,000 and became a silent partner of the new Harry Conover Agency.
A decade later, Ford would marry a John Robert Powers model named Elizabeth Bloomer Warren, whom you may now know as Betty Ford. Or rather, you know the name of the addiction clinic she founded where countless models have wound up.
The Fords were less successful at rehabilitating the economy. Zing.
Thomas Jefferson Couldn't Speak in Public
We know him as the main author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the most influential of the Founding Fathers (if not the most). Besides being totally awesome at writing stuff, Jefferson also designed houses with swivel chairs and automatic doors and even invented the portable printing press. In addition, he also founded the University of Virginia, just because he could.
See: the same reason he built Monticello.
JFK even famously said the combined abilities of 49 Nobel Prize winners couldn't compare to the brainpower of a lone Thomas Jefferson. Such was the badassery of Jefferson that Kennedy even said that to their faces.
But you didn't know ...
He was also a bit of a drama queen.
He had to add accent marks to his draft of the Declaration of Independence so that he could read it out loud without shitting himself. Throughout his presidency, he gave only two speeches -- one speech per term, and both were at his inaugurations.
We'd hesitate to go out in public with a hair pyramid like that, too.
As a result, Jefferson also pioneered the strategy of sending the State of the Union address to Congress in writing rather than delivering it in person, a tradition that would survive until Woodrow Wilson.
Jefferson made up for his lack of stage presence in the same way that bad metal bands do -- by wearing ridiculous clothes. His pants were a hideous shade of red, and he often looked like he had dressed in the dark. He'd intentionally wear ridiculously out-of-fashion clothes, with different styles randomly thrown together in a way that was impossible not to notice.
T.J., seen here peacocking like a pro.
That's right, Thomas Jefferson was a hipster.
John Quincy Adams Was a Little Insane
John Quincy Adams was the son of the second U.S. president, John Adams, so they were kind of like the Bush family of their time.
Cheney acted as an adviser to both administrations.
He was widely lauded as the best diplomat ever. Before he became President, he was instrumental in the acquisition of Florida under president James Monroe. He also had a big part in writing the Monroe Doctrine, which was a ballsy declaration that basically told Europe to fuck off.
As president, he was a vocal opponent of slavery and supported education advancement, which could make one think that his failure to get re-elected was due to his simply being too smart -- and too ahead of his time -- for the voting public.
It didn't help that he had Gary Busey Eyes.
But you didn't know ...
John Quincy Adams thought the Earth was hollow. He greenlighted an expedition to prove it, at taxpayer expense.
If the venture had been successful, America's Mushroom Reserve would have been secured for generations.
It all started with John Cleves Symmes Jr., a U.S. Army officer who added a "Junior" to his name to distinguish himself from his similarly named uncle and possibly spare him some significant embarrassment.
Symmes spent his entire life advocating his hollow-Earth theory on the literary circuit and gained quite a few followers. True, those were simpler times, but they sure as hell weren't that simple -- the hollow-Earth theory was already known to be utter bullshit. What Symmes proposed was the 1800s equivalent to sending people to the moon to find cheese. He wanted to mount an expedition to silence his critics and also to conduct trade with the mole people.
Unfortunately for Adams, the Mole People and the Crab People went to war shortly thereafter. The resultant conflict came to be known as "America's Secret Underground Vietnam."
Adams approved the expedition, which would venture to the North Pole, where the entrance to the underworld was supposedly located. Unfortunately, the crazy road trip never came to be, as Adams left office before anything could be done. As luck would have it, his successor, Andrew Jackson, was a man who believed the world was flat. Naturally, Jackson promptly canceled the expedition and along with it, dashing of contacting mole people.
George Washington Kind of Sucked at War
It's impossible to know what America would look like if there had never been a George Washington, but it almost certainly would suck.
There'd be less weed and more British people.
He was the only unanimously elected U.S. president, and rightfully so. He set the tone for the presidency (including inventing the Cabinet system and starting the tradition of the inaugural address). Before he was president, he was also a soldier who was so awesome in the Revolutionary War that King George called him the "greatest character of his age." We wouldn't presume to argue with that.
The man had more style than our last 10 presidents combined.
But you didn't know ...
George Washington was simply not a good military commander. Sure, he was great at the political aspects of the job and made a great symbol for people to rally around, but when it came to strategy, he simply lost virtually every major battle that he fought. It was true even going back to his pre-Revolution days with the British army. Once, when sent to capture a French fort, his men accidentally opened fire on another British unit instead. Then, during the Revolution, his major early accomplishments involved being really good at retreating (such as successfully getting his men away after being soundly beaten in the largest engagement of the war, the Battle of Long Island).
Where he started the beloved American tradition of tearing down statues to distract people from military difficulties.
He did lead the famous surprise Christmas attack across the Delaware River in 1776, but just nine months later, he was almost fired as general because he lost the city of Philadelphia when the British Gen. Howe outmaneuvered him. It took a whole lot of help from the French to eventually win the war. Then again, history records not a single instance of him showing his dick to anybody, so there's that.
Which, based on this painting, would have been roughly four feet long.
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