Most absurdly ridiculous bald-faced political lies?

As the US political cycle is now coming to an end, I started thinking today about how a politician will sometimes tell a lie that is so obviously false that it’s remarkable he can say it with a straight face.

He knows he’s lying, the reporter he’s talking to knows he’s lying, and anyone with any sense who hears it knows he’s lying.

So what are some of the notable ridiculously obvious lies from recent political history? I immediately thought of a couple of domestic examples (both from the Republican side, I admit), and a noteworthy foreign competitor.

The two US examples are:

  1. Larry Craig’s claiming that he was not in that bathroom stall to engage in anonymous gay sexual activity.

  2. John McCain’s claim that Sarah Palin “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.” Or does the “probably” qualifier let him off the hook?

The foreign example is the impressive body of work from the (former) Iraqi Information Minister.
I’d be interested in other examples you can think of.

I flipped a coin between Great Debates and IMHO…

  • Dave

Gonna have to go with “I have not had sexual relations with that woman . . . Miss Lewinsky.”

And of course: “I am not a crook.”

Man…this could get long so just a couple:

“The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency. . . . It has developed weapons of mass death” - President Bush

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” - President Bush on hurricane Katrina

Better I think was, “I didn’t inhale.”

I recall that some Republican claimed that “hungry children learn better”

“We make our own reality.”

Does Ford’s “Eastern Europe is not under Soviet domination.” count? I’ve heard that he meant that the US would not recognize the USSR’s rule of that region, but obviously that’s not what he said.

In a public lecture in Seattle, Christopher Hitchens convinced me that this one was technically true. The idea was that Clinton just ate a bunch of pot brownies, so he used marijuana without inhaling. (Hitchens and Clinton were at Oxford at the same time in the 60s.) Given Clinton’s fondness for lawyerly escape hatches, I tend to believe it.

To be fair, he didn’t say that with a straight face.

I’ll have you know his face was straight. His hands and ass were gay.

Read my lips, no new taxes.

Clarence Thomas is the most qualified candidate available for the Supreme Court

I don’t think he was lying - just stupid. He believed what he was saying at the time.

It may be a different matter for McCain and Obama, who both regaled us with all the tax cuts they are going to provide whille at the same time the country is racking up huge debts that will ultimately have to be paid for with tax increases.

I believe that he meant that the spirit of the people in Eastern Europe wasn’t under Soviet domination. Obviously, any politician knew that they were militarily under Soviet domination.

The problem was that he was even asked a follow up question to clarify and he still insisted there was no domination.

“I do not have Addison’s Disease” ~ John F Kennedy
“The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, an important Japanese military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians.” ~ Harry S Truman
“We did not-repeat-we did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages. Nor will we.” Ronald Reagan

Eric Altman’s book When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences is eye opening.

In 1964 LBJ was trying to paint himself as the peace candidate compared to Goldwater and declared “we seek no wider war” in Vietnam, while actually putting plans in place for a massive troop buildup as soon as the election was over; but that doesn’t really meet the OP’s criteria, as he reasonably expected to be believed, and was. You can read the story in Before the Storm, by Rick Perlstein.

A better example is Nixon’s countless public statements on how the war was going and what his intentions were for ending it. The lies were too easy to catch and only the “Silent Majority” believed him. (Which proved to be enough, in 1972. :() While campaigning in 1968, Nixon actually secretly scuttled the Paris peace talks, from behind the scenes through his connections, to make sure the war would still be an issue on e-day. You can read the story in Nixonland by Rick Perlstein (reviewed here).

The Master speaks on the “ketchup is a vegetable” controversy.

Nitpick: Alterman.

Thank you. No excuse for that typo either; I was looking directly at the book as I posted.

16 posts and nobody has mentioned
“We got out of the helicopter and had to run, dodging sniper fire.”

Well, I was going to point out this memo from Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager. But nothing in that memo rises above the status of little white lies compared to this one in which he promises that McCain will run a “respectful” campaign.

But that was during campaigning. There aren’t enough hamsters to handle posting all the lies told during campaigns.