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quotations The Most Ridiculous Michele Bachmann Gaffes and Mistakes  

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Since she first arrived on the national stage, Minnesota Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann has been prone to controversy. Her outspoken views on the Iraq War, on same-sex marriage, climate change and health care (among other hot-button issues) received a great deal of press and attention, as did her early and vocal affiliation with the Tea Party Movement.

But beyond the sometimes radical element of Bachmann's rhetoric, she's also received a lot of attention for the frequent gaffes, mistakes and outright falsehoods in her stump speeches and interviews. Most Republicans have called for cuts to government programs like the community service-oriented AmeriCorps. But it takes a special politician to come out and call it a "re-education camp." And it takes an even more special politician to gloss over the fact that her own son was working with Teach for America, which is part of the AmeriCorps program. (Perhaps he was looking to get re-educated after growing up with Michele Bachmann?)

What follows is a list of Bachmann's most silly, bizarre, over-the-top or just befuddling misstatements, errors, gaffes and flubs. Am I missing any? Leave them in the comments below.
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The Founding Fathers Ended Slavery

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Back in January of 2011, Bachmann was speaking to a group called Iowans for Tax Relief. (I hear they have some kickass parties!) During her remarks, she said: "We also know the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States... Men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country."

Now, granted, the blanket term "Founding Fathers" referred to a great number of individuals, some of whom legitimately did oppose the practice of slavery in the Colonies. But it's beyond a stretch to claim that the founders, as a group, worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence AS WELL AS a book on how to effectively manage your slaves! (It includes charming passages like this one: "[A] woman who brings a child every two years is more profitable than the best man on the farm." What a tireless champion of the abolitionist cause!)

Even more egregiously, Bachmann mentions John Quincy Adams by name as someone "who would not rest until slavery was extinguished." He did more than rest before slavery was extinguished... He died! In 1848! Before slavery was extinguished! I guess his ghost didn't rest until a few years later, but don't steal that idea because I'm going to write a screenplay about it at some point.
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The Soviet Union is Rising

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On August 18, 2011, Bachmann appeared as a guest on the radio show of attorney Jay Sekulow. Part of the conversation centered on the concerns Bachmann was hearing about from voters as she traveled around the country. Specifically, she discussed fears about America being in decline, and whether or not such a drop off in international power and influence was inevitable. Bachmann had this to contribute:

"What people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward."

Check that date again... August 18, 2011. Or just under 20 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This wasn't even, like, she said "Soviet Union" but meant "Saudi Arabia" or something. Bachmann didn't stop herself and issue a correction, or clarify whose rise concerns Americans. She just thinks we ought to be afraid of the bad guys from James Bond movies still. Hey, they all had henchmen, okay? You don't just ignore a threat like that because it's over 20 years out of date!
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The Wrong John Wayne

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Bachmann kicked off her campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination for President in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. As she sometimes does in stump speeches, she evoked the memory of beloved Western movie icon John Wayne at the event, even telling Fox News: "Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too."

The thing is... John Wayne wasn't actually FROM Waterloo, Iowa. His birthplace is nearly three hours away, in Winterset, Iowa. You'd think someone who was from Waterloo themselves would have known that.

But maybe Bachmann just got confused, because there WAS a famous John Wayne who spent a lot of time in Iowa. That'd be notorious serial killer and clown make-up enthusiast John Wayne Gacy, who was executed in 1994 after being convicted on 33 counts of murder. Hopefully Bachmann doesn't have that same kind of spirit, or we could be in for a very strange, creepy four years.
Obama Emptied the Strategic Oi... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Ridiculous Michele Bachmann Gaffes and Mistakes
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Obama Emptied the Strategic Oil Reserve

Some quick background: The US Department of Energy keeps a Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) stored in four different locations near the Gulf Coast, in case there is a sudden global emergency and we're unable to get in the oil we need to run stuff. Not a bad plan, right? You can even check the current SPR level on the Department of Energy's website, if you're in to that sort of thing.

As a guest on CBS' "Face the Nation" in June of 2011, Bachmann said:

"It’s ironic and sad that the president released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve because the president doesn’t have an energy policy."

This was in response to the Obama administration's announcement that it would release 30 million barrels of oil from the reserve the previous week. And how many total barrels are in the Strategic Oil Reserve? Only 727 million barrels! Meaning the Obama administration actually released about 4% of the actual oil. Which is kind of different from releasing ALL the oil. By a factor of 25. I mean, if you want to be a stickler about it...
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A Very Merry Unbirthday to Elvis

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On August 16th, 2011, Bachmann was campaigning in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Before proceeding with her almost-surely inaccurate speech, she stopped first to indulge in a wildly inaccurate digression.

"Before we get started, let's all say 'Happy Birthday' to Elvis Presley today. You can't do better than Elvis Presley."

I'm not even objecting to the part where she says "you can't do better than Elvis Presley." Cause, great though The King was, you really sort of can.

But August 16th is not, as it turns out, the anniversary of Elvis' birth. It's the anniversary of the day he died. Yes, it was the sad afternoon of August 16, 1977, when Elvis' current girlfriend - model Ginger Alden - found him unresponsive on the floor of his bathroom. Arguably not the best day to encourage Elvis fans to celebrate. They'd probably prefer to have a nice, reflective afternoon alone... just them and a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich, and their thoughts. (As it turns out, this is another way you can probably do better than Elvis Presley. Just don't die at the age of 42 on the floor of a bathroom and you're home free!)
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The Hoot-Smalley Tariff

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This one is just strange, like hearing someone describe an alternate version of US History, using all the recognizable names from real history but jumbled up and in no particular order. Back in April of 2009, a few Republican representatives took to the floor of the House to offer criticisms and rebuttals to the first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidential administration. Bachmann used her time to pay tribute to Calvin Coolidge, whose conservative economic policies - in her view - led America into the prosperity of the "Roaring '20s." That would be the decade that ended in 1929. Seems like something significant happened in America that year... Nah, I can't place it.

Anyway, she went on to argue that the thing I can't remember that happened in 1929 but had nothing whatsoever to do with Calvin Coolidge was made much worse by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the "Hoot-Smalley" tariffs, which created regulatory burdens and tax barriers to business.

OK, so none of that happened. And though "Hoot-Smalley" sounds like a thing that could have existed in actual American history - which is full of kind of silly names for serious things - it is a completely made-up term. Bachmann is probably just misstating the name of the Smoot-Hawley Bill, legislation from roughly this time period in American history that has the distinct advantage to actually having existed. But even giving Bachmann the benefit of the doubt in this way... she's still totally getting the history wrong. That bill was proposed by Senator Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, both of whom were Republicans. It was then signed into law by Herbert Hoover. A Republican.

Honestly, you can get a better sense for actual world history from the "Lord of the Rings" novels than listening to this woman speak. Don't they have Google in Minnesota yet?
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Lexington and Concord, New Hampshire?

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In March of 2011, Bachmann was speaking to a group called the Republican Liberty Caucus in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Can you imagine having to go to all these drab, random events spread out all over the country for YEARS if you want to be president? If I had to attend County Fairs this many times over, I'd be 400 pounds and clinically depressed.)

During the remarks, she encouraged the New Hamphireans (New Hampshirerers? New Hampsheratti?) to be proud of their state. After all, "you’re the state where the shot was heard ‘round the world at Lexington and Concord."

Excerpt, erm, no. Those famous shots happened in a different state: Massachusetts. Still, kind of close... that counts, right? I mean, those are the tiny states that are always all bunched together in the corner of the map anyway. If it were important for us to remember which one is New Hampshire, why don't the map and atlas folks make the name bigger, like Texas? Right? Who's with me?
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In July of 2011, Bachmann appeared on Fox News to discuss President Obama (who else?) and to criticize some of his fiscal policies. Whether trying to show off, or even to suck up to the Jewish voters she has repeatedly courted, Bachmann tried to 'spice up' her usual blend of ill-informed vitriol with some key Yiddish words and phrases. Specifically, "chutzpah," meaning "audacity" or... well... BALLS, basically. Saying someone has a lot of "chutzpah" is like saying they've got a lot of nerve.

Anyway, "chutzpah," like all Yiddish words with that "ch-" in them, sounds like it just starts with a deep, throaty "H." (This sound is called a "voiceless fricative," and sounds a bit like the person speaking is clearly their throat.) Even if you can't really muster up the proper Yiddish-style pronunciation, that's totally cool... just an "H" sound will do. (As in "Hannukah." Or "How can you not know how to pronounce these words that are a standard part of spoken English at this point?")

Bachmann, of course, when presented with a vague opportunity to stumble over words, does so in spectacular fashion, turning the delightful little word "chutzpah" into some sort of mutant word more closely resembling "choot-spa." Which doesn't sound like a fun kind of spa at all!