Many remember the presidency of George W. Bush as being unintentionally funny. That is because he was known for misspeaking, and these so-called “Bushisms” (such as him asking “is our children learning?”) were often equal parts funny and embarrassing.
However, that unintentional humor really runs in the family. And that is because the entire Bush family has made us cringe at different times over the years. Some of the most cringeworthy moments were caught on camera, and we have rounded up the very best for you to check out!
George W. Bush creeps out Angela Merkel with unwanted massage
Not all of George W. Bush’s blunders involved him screwing up a phrase or a speech. In fact, one of his worst offenses involved no words at all!
In 2006, Bush attended the G8 summit in St. Petersburg along with other world leaders, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. While walking behind Merkel, Bush tried to give her an impromptu and unwanted back massage. As the video shows, Merkel immediately recoiled in horror, and Bush then wanders off as if he did nothing wrong!
George H.W. Bush vomits on Japanese prime minister
When it comes to famous blunders from “President Bush,” most of us think of the many weird moments that came from George W. Bush and his two terms in office. However, it was actually Dubya’s daddy that set the gold standard for embarrassing moments caught on camera!
Back in 1992, President H.W. Bush visited Japan and ate some sushi. So far, so good, but nobody knew that the sushi had gone bad. This culminated in the worst possible outcome: the president puked all over the Japanese prime minister!
George W. Bush famously flubs the ‘fool me once’ quote
It’s one thing to mess up your own speech, especially when you are speaking off the cuff. But George W. Bush was at his most embarrassing when he managed to screw up famous phrases in bizarre ways.
Arguably, the best example of this came from a 2002 speech Bush gave to parents, teachers, and students in Nashville. At one point, Bush decided to repeat the classic phrase “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
But what came out was “There’s an old saying in Tennessee… I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!'” To this day, this bizarre “Bushism” is one that people love to laughingly repeat.
George W. Bush dodges flying shoes
George W. Bush was attending a press conference in Iraq in 2008 when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi took off both shoes and threw them at Bush. Bush dodging those shoes like he’s in the Matrix helped this video go viral.
George H.W. Bush’s infamous ‘no new taxes’ quote
Sometimes, an embarrassing moment isn’t embarrassing right away. Instead, it may become much more embarrassing over time.
George H.W. Bush proved this when he famously said “Read my lips: no new taxes” at the 1988 Republican National Convention. He said this while accepting the nomination to run for president, and he was hoping to win more people over by promising to not raise their taxes.
However, a Democrat-controlled Senate and Congress wanted to raise taxes to help deal with the national budget deficit. Bush compromised with them and ultimately raised new taxes, and this was a large part of why Bill Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 election.
Jeb Bush begs audience to ‘please clap’
Jeb Bush, George W. Bush’s younger brother, was seen as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president in 2015, before Donald Trump came out of nowhere to take the lead. Facing harsh attacks from Trump, who called him “low energy,” Jeb’s support among Republicans had fallen to 3% that December. This led to arguably one of the saddest moments in political history.
Giving a speech in Hanover, New Hampshire in Feb. 2016, Jeb tried to rally the crowd with his words. Trying to position himself against Trump, he dramatically stated, “I will not trash talk. I will not be a divider in chief or an agitator in chief. I won’t be out there blowharding, talking a big game without backing it up. I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we’re prepared to act in the national security interests of this country — to get back in the business of creating a more peaceful world.”
He apparently expected a major reaction, but the crowd offered only stony silence. To break that silence, Jeb made a pathetic two-word request of the audience: “Please clap.” In retrospect, this was a perfect summary of his political chances in that election!
Laura Bush goes on TV to clarify the White House is not haunted
Most of these embarrassing Bush family moments involve only one member of the family. However, Laura Bush’s appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show in May 2021 was embarrassing for both the Bush matriarch and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.
That is because Clarkson explicitly asked Laura about her daughter’s claims that the White House was haunted. Laura maintains that the voices her daughter heard “haunting” the White House were probably just the Secret Service communicating with each other.
Obviously, this story makes Jenna look pretty bad. And the fact that poor Laura even had to comment on it didn’t make her look good, either.
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Jenna Bush Hager admits to stealing a gift meant for Hoda Kotb
Speaking of Jenna Bush Hager, she eventually became a part of NBC’s TODAY. But she made a major mistake really early on and actually confessed to it on the air.
Here’s what happened: Jenna found a jewelry box and card in her dressing room. Inside the box was a bracelet engraved with the phrase “My joy is non-negotiable.” This is a phrase Kathie Lee Gifford (who Jenna was replacing) lives by.
On air, Jenna talked about what a beautiful and elegant gift it was. But she eventually realized it was meant for co-host Hoda Kotb, and you can see Jenna die on the air when she admitted this the next day. Meanwhile, the incident served to crack Hoda up.
George W. Bush busts a move
For better or for worse, George W. Bush fancied himself a man of the people. And that meant he wasn’t afraid to mix and mingle, even when doing so made him look insanely goofy.
A great example of this came in 2007 during a Rose Garden ceremony meant to commemorate Malaria Awareness Day. The ceremony featured a performance by the Kankouran West African Dance Company. Rather than stand back, Bush jumped right into the performance, banging on drums and doing his best to dance along with everyone else!
Turkey attacks George W. Bush
In 2001, George W. Bush tried to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. In response, it attacked him!