A Few Gaffes That Never Actually Happened

Political Myth: During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Sarah Palin said “I can see Russia from my house.”

Reality: That phrase was actually uttered by Tina Fey, who was imitating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.  While we make no guarantees as to how long this link will continue to work, for the moment you can watch the skit here.

What Sarah Palin actually said, in an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, was “They’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”

Political Myth: Barrack Obama once claimed that the United States consisted of “57 states.”

Reality: In a campaign speech he gave in 2008, then-candidate Barrack Obama said the following:

“… it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty …. seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit
but my staff would not justify it.”

We are normally reluctant to engage in speculation, but you can probably assume that he started to say “fifty states,” and then corrected himself mid-phrase to “forty seven.”  In other words, he most likely misspoke, rather than literally believing there were 57 states.

Political Myth: Dan Quayle once said “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.”

Reality: As a general rule, the accuracy of virtually any apparently absurd quotation attributed to Dan Quayle should be taken with a grain of salt.  This particular utterance was first said in 1989 by Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) to a group of her supporters.  Although she attributed the statement to Dan Quayle, she made it clear that she was joking.

Political Myth: Dan Quayle once said “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.”

Reality: As a general rule, the accuracy of virtually any apparently absurd quotation attributed to Dan Quayle should be taken with a grain of salt.  This particular utterance was first said in 1989 by Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-RI) to a group of her supporters.  Although she attributed the statement to Dan Quayle, she made it clear that she was joking.

Political Myth: Al Gore claimed to have “invented the Internet.”

Reality: During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore said during an interview on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

In other words, Al Gore claimed to have “invented the Internet” in much the same way John F. Kennedy invented the Apollo program, or Dwight D. Eisenhower invented interstate highways.

Political Myth: Mitt Romney said “I like being able to fire people.”

Reality: Yes, he did utter those particular words, but the context may be important.  Here is the full quotation:

I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep people healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.


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