Whopper: Laura Bush.

Whopper: Laura Bush.

Whopper: Laura Bush.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Jan. 5 2004 4:25 PM

Whopper: Laura Bush

The first lady lies in order to make the president look ... stupid?

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President Bush is a great leader and husbandbut I bet you didn't know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn't share something so personal, but since we're celebrating great writers, I can't resist.

Dear Laura,

Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I've missed you.

Roses are redder, bluer am I, seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.

The dogs and the cat they miss you too, Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe.

The distance my dear has been such a barrier, next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

I'm happy to be the inspiration behind this poem.

Laura Bush, remarks at the National Book Festival in Washington, Oct. 3, 2003.

Q: Now, who could have written that poem, huh? I mean, what ...

A: Well, of course, he didn't really write the poem. But a lot of people really believed that he did. That evening at the dinner, what some woman from across the table said: "You just don't know how great it is to have a husband who would write a poem for you."

Laura Bush on NBC's Meet the Press, Dec. 28, 2003.

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Comment. This lie is about an obviously trivial matter, and there's something endearing about the first lady's undisguised pleasure at conning so many people. Still, it is not only a lie, but an entirely gratuitous one—Mrs. Bush's remarks about the joys of reading didn't need the anecdote, and arguably were undermined by its mawkishness. Of particular interest is the apparent aim of Mrs. Bush's hoax. Ordinarily, when a surrogate tries to pass off a fake quotation as a president's actual words, the quotation is meant to make the president sound scholarly, or witty, or lapidary. In this case, though, whatever White House staffer prepared Mrs. Bush's remarks obviously strained to make the president's purported love poem sound sufficiently moronic that no one would doubt Bush had written it. Chatterbox doesn't know what to make of this.

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

(Click here to access the Whopper Archive for 2003, here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2002, and here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)