A couple of days ago I received an email that purported to contain a whole list of Bushisms – those sometimes bizarre, often incomprehensible, and frequently (unintentionally) funny things said by ex-President G W Bush.

I was about to post the whole thing because it was really funny, when Richard asked me: “Are you quite sure that Bush said all those things?”

Well, that stopped me in my tracks…

How often do we forward an email without double-checking the content? After all, isn’t that how urban legends are born, hoaxes and scams are propagated, and untruths are spread far and wide?

So, being of a somewhat pedantic bent, I decided to double-check all the quotes in the list by entering them in Google search. It took me a long time. Also, it’s not like I’m a reporter or journalist who’s been dogging GW during his years in office, taking down every word he says, so my sole criterion for saying ‘yep, he musta said that’, is if I could find an indication of the date on which or the place at which or the circumstances in which the words were supposedly spoken. So the numbers in brackets after each quote identify the references at the bottom of this post.

I’ve tried to sort them more or less thematically:

The big bad world

  • “It’s in our country’s interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm’s way.” (Washington DC, 28 April 2005) (*3)
  • “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” (Bush’s remarks video clipped in Washington DC, as he signed the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005, on 5 Aug 2004) (*4)
  • “September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget.” (Marlton, New Jersey, 18 Oct 2004) (*5)
  • “You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war president. No president wants to be a war president, but I am one.” (Des Moines, 26 Oct 2006) (*5)
  • “I couldn’t imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah.” (at the annual White House lighting of the menorah, 10 Dec 2001) (*5)
  • “(The Taliban) have no disregard for human life.” (Describing the brutality of Afghan fighters, Washington DC, 15 Jul 2008 ) (*6)
  • “It’s a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life.” (Washington DC, 21 Dec 2004) (*7)
  • “I can press when there needs to be pressed; I can hold hands when there needs to be… hold hands.” (On how he can contribute to the Middle East peace process, Washington DC, 4 Jan 2008 ) (*8 )
  • “General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq.” (To Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington DC, 3 Mar 2008 ) (*8 )
  • “I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep on the soil of a friend.” (On the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington DC, 29 Jun 2005) (*2)


  • “There is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I’m sorry it’s the case, and I’ll work hard to try to elevate it.” (Speaking on National Public Radio, 29 Jan 2007) (*2)
  • “When the governor calls, I answer his phone.” (San Diego, California, 25 Oct 2007) (*9)

The economy

  • “I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances.” (Washington DC, 29 May 2003) (*1)
  • “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.” (Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, 27 Jan 2000) (*2)
  • It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. — More and more of our imports come from overseas.” (25 Sep 2000) (*4)
  • “It’s very important for folks to understand that when there’s more trade, there’s more commerce.” (Remark made during a meeting of leaders of the Americas, in Quebec City, Canada, 21 Apr 2001) (*4)
  • “Justice ought to be fair.” (Bush speaking at the White House Economic Conference, Washington DC, 15 Dec 2004) (*5)
  • “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.” (Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 6 Sep 2004) (*9)


  • “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” (*10)
  • “Reading is the basics for all learning.” (Reston, Virgina, 28 Mar 2000) (*5)
  • “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.” (US News & World Report, 3 Jan 2000) (*5)
  • “You wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling.” (Washington DC, 23 Jan 2004) (*5)
  • “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” (Townsend, Tennessee, 21 Feb 2001) (*9)


  • “I think it’s really important for this great state of baseball to reach out to people of all walks of life to make sure that the sport is inclusive. The best way to do it is to convince little kids how to… the beauty of playing baseball.” (Washington DC, 13 Feb 2006) (*2)


  • “Will the highways on the Internet become more few?” (Concord, New Hampshire, 29 Jan 2000) (*5)

Redefining the meanings of words

  • “I think we agree, the past is over.” (The Dallas Morning News, 10 May 2000) (*5)
  • “I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it.” (Crawford, Texas, 10 Nov 2007 ) (*3)
  • “If you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.” (Bush’s remark during a CNN Online Chat, 30 Aug 2000) (*4)
  • “The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur’.” (Remark made by Bush during a discussion of the French economy during the 2002 G8 summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, as reported in The Times (London), 9 Jul 2002) (*4)
  • ‘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.'” (Video of Bush’s remarks in Nashville, Tennessee, 27 Sep 2002) (*4)
  • “I’ve coined new words, like ‘misunderstanding’.” (*10)
  • “(I will) keep good relations with the Grecians.” (*10)
  • “If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow.” (*10)
  • “They misunderestimated me.” (*10)

The peculiar

  • “I have opinions of my own – strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.” (The Times, 19 Jan 2002, p.16) (*5)
  • “One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end.” (Washington DC, 8 Jan 2003) (*1)
  • “For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It’s just unacceptable. And we’re going to do something about it.” (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 May 2001) (*5)

And the downright bizarre:

  • “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” (*10)

The following treasures have been attributed to GW Bush, but weren’t in fact said by him (see Snopes.com):

  • “For NASA, space is still a high priority.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is “to be prepared”.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “The future will be better tomorrow.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “Public speaking is very easy.” (Dan Quayle)
  • “A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.” (MAD Magazine 1991)
  • “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.” (MAD Magazine 1991)
  • “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.” (MAD Magazine 1991)


  1. Bush: The Dark Night of America – G. P. Geoghegan, published by Lulu.com, 2007, ISBN 1430324406, 9781430324409, 376 pages
  2. Slate.com
  3. Bukisa.com
  4. Global Research
  5. Wikiquote.org
  6. Slate.com
  7. Transwiki
  8. Political humour
  9. BBC
  10. New York Times

Other articles containing Bushisms:

2 thoughts on “Bushisms

  1. An admirable exercise! I’ve never thought to do this with Bushisms, but a pet peeve is how readily people forward emails without even a quick Snopes check. Even very intelligent people who really should know better seem to occasionally send out completely bogus things with a little disclaimer at the top – “I don’t normally send these on but this seemed important/convincing so…”

    Snopes. Really. How hard is it!

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