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Top 10 Times Politicians Embarrassed Themselves on TV

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Hopefully no one saw that. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten times politicians embarrassed themselves on TV. For this list, we’ll be looking at instances of major politicians making fools of themselves on television, whether live, on a TV show, or through the news. It can be either embarrassing for the politician themselves or for the nation they represented. We’ll also be focusing more on funny and lighthearted moments rather than controversial ones, such as the infamous Helsinki Summit.
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Hopefully no one saw that. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten times politicians embarrassed themselves on TV.

For this list, we’ll be looking at instances of major politicians making fools of themselves on television, whether live, on a TV show, or through the news. It can be either embarrassing for the politician themselves or for the nation they represented. We’ll also be focusing more on funny and lighthearted moments rather than controversial ones, such as the infamous Helsinki Summit.

#10: George W. Bush Gets Locked In


Despite jet lag, it seems that then-U.S. President still knows how to keep his sense of humor. During a 2005 press conference in Beijing, Bush was answering questions from American reporters at his hotel. But after being asked something that he wasn’t comfortable answering, he decided to end things on his own terms and head for the door - unfortunately, he went towards the wrong one and was caught by cameras struggling to get out of the room. After discovering both handles were locked, he laughed and quipped, “I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work." Fortunately, an aide came to his rescue and showed him the correct way out.

#9: Justin Trudeau’s ‘Costumes’ & Bhangra Dancing


In February 2018, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a trip to India, and like most family holidays, it did not go particularly well. Trudeau and his family were lambasted upon their arrival for their outfits, which many people called stereotypical at best, offensive at worst. While some people commended the Trudeaus for trying to embrace Indian culture, others compared their clothing to Bollywood costumes. Trudeau made it even worse by attempting some bhangra dance moves, which again were criticized for adhering to Bollywood stereotypes. Spirit and enthusiasm are commendable, but this is one case of trying way too hard.

#8: Alabama Has Always Been a Place of ‘Equality’


Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who Is America?” is a treasure trove of politicians making fools of themselves, including national laughing stock Roy Moore. Unsurprisingly, Cohen attempted to embarrass Moore with pedophile jokes, but Moore saw right through it and shut him down. However, Moore still found a way to make a fool of himself by proudly declaring that Alabama has always been a place that values freedom and equality. When Cohen goes for the jugular and asks if people have always been free in Alabama regardless of race, Moore declares that it’s “part of [their] heritage.” If we actually research their heritage, we can see that in 1860, 45% of Alabama’s population were enslaved African Americans.

#7: Mitt Romney Has ‘Binders Full of Women’


This is a case of good intentions ruined by awful execution. During the second 2012 presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were asked how they would address gender pay inequality in the workplace. Romney stated that while he was searching for cabinet members, he had “binders full of women” brought to him. Though meant to point out that women were equally qualified, as Romney was referring to resumes, the poor choice of words resulted in media outlets and critics calling Romney disrespectful and demeaning to women. Memes were instantly created, jabs were taken at Romney, and the issue of women’s rights became a dominant factor of the presidential race.

#6: “And What Is Aleppo?”


Gary Johnson was the Libertarian Party nominee for the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. His 2016 campaign was a thing of legend. A major gaffe occurred on September 8, when Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” When asked by Mike Barnicle how he would handle the situation in Aleppo, Syria, Johnson asked him what Aleppo was, prompting Barnicle to ask if he was joking. He wasn’t, and it was quite embarrassing. Only a few weeks later, Johnson weirdly stuck his tongue out during an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, prompting many media outlets to wonder just what the heck it was that he was doing with his presidential campaign.

#5: ‘MC Rove’


This is like something you’d see on “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation,” only it’s, you know, real life. In 2007, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Presidential Advisor Karl Rove did a little dance at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner, and it was mortifying. Rove clearly didn’t know what to do during the ill-advised rap, so he simply bounced around on stage performing silly gestures and hops in the guise of dancing. He dons a deep voice and declares that he is MC Rove whenever he’s given the mic and uses his cell phone as a prop. It’s probably one of the cringiest things we’ve ever seen, and we suffered immense second-hand embarrassment while sitting through this disaster.

#4: Silvio Berlusconi Blows Off Angela Merkel



Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is often at heads with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and that couldn’t have been more apparent when he ignored her for a phone call. At a 2009 NATO summit, Berlusconi exited his car and immediately gestured to Merkel to inform her that he was on the phone. Those in attendance then audibly laughed as Berlusconi walked away from Merkel and the summit to attend to his phone call. After a few bemused and uncomfortable minutes, Merkel decided to start without him. Granted, it WAS an important call with the Turkish Prime Minister, but he could have been a little nicer about it.

#3: The ‘Suppository’ of All Wisdom


If you don’t know the correct word, maybe it’s best to reword your statement. In August 2013, Australia’s Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott told a Liberal event that no one “is the suppository of all wisdom.” He meant to say “repository,” meaning a place of safe storage, but instead used the word for a medicated substance that is usually inserted into the vagina or rectum. The audience giggled at his gaffe, and #suppository began trending on social media in Australia. Sure, we’ve all had our slips of the tongue, but not in front of a national audience. Luckily, it didn’t matter in the end, as Abbott was elected to Prime Minister just one month later.

#2: Trump Throwing Paper Towels



It’s not a good sign when Trump playfully throwing paper towels in the aftermath of a natural disaster is one of his least controversial moments. Like his failure to pronounce “anonymous,” this is embarrassing without being too malicious to any one person in particular. While visiting Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Trump decided to have some fun by tossing paper towels like a basketball into the crowd of relief workers and survivors. Many of Trump’s detractors took umbrage with his actions, with some calling it incredibly disrespectful while others believed that he was treating the relief like a sporting event. In his response, Trump stated that they were “having fun.”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.



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#1: The Palin-Couric Interview


And we thought being interviewed in front of a turkey massacre was bad... Perhaps no TV appearance has been as disastrous for a politician as the Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interview. During the 2008 presidential race, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin sat for interviews with Couric of “CBS Evening News,” and they were an unmitigated disaster. Palin was lambasted by the media for her ridiculous answers, unclear positions, and incoherent rambling. She was viciously parodied by Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live,” who reiterated some of Palin’s answers verbatim, and public opinion swiftly turned on the McCain/Palin campaign. She became a national laughingstock, and they all but ruined her reputation and political career.
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