Weird History A Comprehensive List of All The Pranks The Clinton Administration Pulled On The Bush White House  

Stephan Roget
1.7k votes 423 voters 32.7k views 10 items

List Rules Vote up the pranks you most hope your tax dollars paid to fix.

Of all the controversies surrounding the administration of Bill Clinton, reports of Clinton staff vandalism and allegations that the Clinton administration destroyed the White House, seem relatively minor. Sure, the list of Clinton administration pranks is as lengthy as it is hilarious, but what’s the harm in some good-natured practical jokes? Unfortunately, the “harm” is $15,000 in damage to the White House, which many Republicans saw as no laughing matter, and an official inquiry was eventually launched. Not since Andrew Jackson's rager of an inauguration party had the White House sustained such damage. A federally commissioned investigation into the matter – and the 2002 report that it produced – corroborated allegations of intentional vandalism.

The motivation behind the pranking of the White House is no mystery. The 2000 presidential election that saw George W. Bush narrowly defeat Al Gore was contentious, with more than a few legitimate questions about the potential illegitimacy of Bush’s win. Any transition between a Democrat administration and a Republican one will be difficult, but this trade of a fun-loving saxophone player for a rich oil tycoon from Texas was especially jarring. There were plenty of allegations that Bush had stolen the election, as well as ample anger on both sides of the political divide, so, perhaps a few thousand dollars worth of pranks might have actually been the most peaceful way to relieve the tension, after all.  

All Of The White House Keyboar... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list A Comprehensive List of All The Pranks The Clinton Administration Pulled On The Bush White House
Photo: White House photo by Eric Draper/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
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All Of The White House Keyboards Had Their Ws Removed


Most of the pranks pulled by the outgoing Clinton staff were rather juvenile in nature, but some were real masterpieces. Few Presidents have had a more prominent middle initial than George W. Bush, and so Bush staffers were no doubt flummoxed when they took possession of the White House and found that nearly every “W” key had been removed or damaged on nearly every keyboard. This was definitely a clever endeavor, but the official investigation into the pranking claimed that it cost nearly $5,000 to replace the keyboards.

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They May Have Left Photos Of A... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list A Comprehensive List of All The Pranks The Clinton Administration Pulled On The Bush White House
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
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They May Have Left Photos Of An Adult Nature In The Photocopiers


As can be expected, the Clinton and Bush administrations have different opinions on the level of pranking that truly occurred. One major dispute centered on the initial report that Clinton staffers had replaced much of the blank paper in the White House photocopiers with paper bearing “obscene images.” Many news outlets interpreted this to mean they had stuffed the photocopiers with explicit photos, but ex-Clinton staffers were quick to point out that they had only placed Al Gore campaign stickers at the bottoms of the paper trays, so that Bush aides would have to see “Gore 2000” every time they refilled the trays. That may be annoying, but only hardcore right wingers would consider it “obscene.”

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Letters On Signs Were Re-Arran... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list A Comprehensive List of All The Pranks The Clinton Administration Pulled On The Bush White House
Photo: White House photo by Shealah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
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Letters On Signs Were Re-Arranged To Cuss Out Bush


Some pranks are just classics, and rearranging letters on a sign to spell out something vulgar is definitely one of the all-time greats. There are plenty of these signs around the White House, and outgoing Clinton staffers could not resist the urge to change the messages to all manner of anti-Bush messages. Some of the messages were political in nature, like those that suggested Bush had stolen the election. Most, however, sound like they were more crude and childish in nature, which is more in keeping with the traditional roots of the prank.

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Random Doorknobs Were Missing,... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list A Comprehensive List of All The Pranks The Clinton Administration Pulled On The Bush White House
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
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Random Doorknobs Were Missing, Some Of Which Were Antique


Stealing doorknobs can make for a great practical joke, especially when done in unexpected locations. The best missing doorknob gag involves removing the knob on only one side, so the victim finds themselves mildly inconvenienced when they try to exit a room they’ve entered. However, doorknobs can be expensive to replace, and that’s especially true in the White House, where many of the knobs are antique and worth some serious money. Several went missing in the transition from Clinton to Bush.

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