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The 25 All-Time Greatest One-Liners by Politicians

All of the zingers that will echo into eternity.

There's a reason that guys like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan are held up as icons, and it's not just because of their political victories. They were ruthless with the zingers.

Great speeches go down in the history books, but it's those short, pithy one-liners that turn politicians into legends. Their off-the-cuff (and fine, probably scripted) remarks don't always have to be funny. Sometimes a political one-liner is inspiring, sometimes it's unintentionally ironic, sometimes it's not even just one line. (We're not going to be too literal here, so relax.)

Whether it's George H.W. Bush telling voters to "Read my lips, no new taxes" or Bill Clinton promising the nation, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," a one-liner can sum up so much with so little. We collected 35 of our favorite political quotes that prove, as Vice President Al Gore once said, "You win some, you lose some, and then there's that little known third category." And looking for some more energizing advice? Check out these 50 Inspirational Success Quotes That Will Energize Your Days.

On Idiocy

Former Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture

"If ignorance goes to forty dollars a barrel, I want drilling rights to George Bush's head."

—Jim Hightower, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture (1983–1990), referring to the 41st President. And for more hilarious lines, check out the 50 Puns So Bad They're Actually Funny.

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On Protestors

Former President Ronald Reagan

"'Make love, not war'? By the looks of you, you don't look like you could do much of either."

—Then California Governor Ronald Reagan, when encountering some hippie protesters at UCLA chanting "Make love, not war!" And if you're in the market for some great one-liners you can say in your home, check out the 20 Funny Things to Ask Your Amazon Alexa. 

On Unfair Comparisons

Former Senator Lloyd Bentsen with Jimmy Carter

"I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

—Senator Lloyd Bentsen, during the 1988 Vice-President Debate, delivering the sickest of burns to Dan Quayle. And for more sick burns, here are the 30 Wittiest Put-Downs Ever Uttered. 

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On Humility

Golda Meir, former Israeli Prime Minister

"Don't be so humble, you're not that great."

—Golda Meir, Israel's first female Prime Minister (1969-1974), using her favorite diss on various people, including visiting diplomats. And for more great lines from strong women, here are the 7 Most Inspiring Quotes from the Billboard Women in Music Awards.

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On Finding the Humor in Any Situation

Ronald and Nancy Reagan

"I forgot to duck, honey."

—Ronald Reagan, 1981, after the attempted assassination by John Hinckley. He uttered the line to his wife Nancy, as he was being rolled on a gurney into the emergency room. If you're looking for more laughs, check out these 20 Things Everyone Secretly Finds Hilarious.

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On Being a Woman in Politics

Former Colorado Representative Patricia Schroeder

"I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both."

—U.S. Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (1973-1997), when asked by a male colleague how she could be a mother and congresswoman at the same time.

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On Unsolicited Advice

Former President Zachary Taylor

"Stop your nonsense and drink your whiskey!"

—Zachary Taylor, when it was suggested to be that he consider a run for president. He did it anyway and became the 12th U.S. president, serving only a year and a half before dying in office.

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On Getting Old

Laura Bush

"Yes. But my eyesight is getting bad."

— Former First Lady Barbara Bush, asked in 2002 if she still considered her husband to be the most handsome man in the world.

On Experience

wittiest put downs, All-Time Greatest One-Liners by Politicians

"I'm the only one on this stage who has hired people."

—Current President Donald Trump, during a GOP debate in which Senator Marco Rubio accused Trump of hiring foreign workers. Curious what other kooky stuff that the president has talked about lately, check out 7 Times President Trump's Tweets Baffled the World.

On Recognizing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

president barack obama success quotes, All-Time Greatest One-Liners by Politicians

"If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome."

—President Barack Obama (2009 to 2017), joking about his talents at a 2008 campaign fundraising dinner in New York.

On Growing Old Gracefully

Former President Ronald Reagan

"I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

—Ronald Reagan, during a 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale, when asked if, at 73, he is too old to be President. Mondale was 56 at the time.

On How Politics Is Like Football

Eugene McCarthy and Lyndon B. Johnson

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important."

—Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy (1959-1971), explaining his profession to The Washington Post on November 12, 1967. For a laugh, check out these 30 Ugliest Sports Uniforms Ever Designed.

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On War Strategies

Napoleon Bonaparte

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."

—Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor (1804-1814), explaining how he conquered continental Europe.

On Marriage

Franklin D. Roosevelt

"I'm not surprised. But what for?"

—President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when told by his secretary that his wife, Eleanor was in prison. She was actually there to visit and speak with prisoners.

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On Slips of the Tongue

Former Senator Ted Kennedy

"She's a wonderful, wonderful person, and we're looking to a happy and wonderful night… er, life."

—Senator Ted Kennedy, correcting himself while discussing his future wife, Victoria Reggie.

On Life in the White House

Bill Clinton, All-Time Greatest One-Liners by Politicians

"I don't know whether it's the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the federal prison system."

—President Bill Clinton (1993 to 2001) on what it's really like to live and work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

On Evil

Former Senator Bob Dole

"There they are. See no evil, hear no evil, and…evil."

—Senator Bob Dole (1985 to 1996), pointing out former Presidents Carter, Ford and Nixon standing next to each other at a White House event.

On How Unemployment Works

Former President Calvin Coolidge

"When large numbers of men are unable to find work, unemployment results."

—President Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929), sharing his insights on the complexities of the labor market.

On Ignoring the Trolls

Former First Lady Michelle Obama

"When they go low, we go high."

—Former First Lady Michelle Obama, during her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

On Endurance

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson

"Being president is like being a jack— in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there and take it."
—President Johnson, during a 1964 interview, explaining how his job wasn't all that different from being a barnyard animal.

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On the American People

Former President Abraham Lincoln

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."

—President Lincoln, demonstrating his knowledge of human nature

On Irony

Former President Richard M. Nixon

"I would not like to be a Russian leader. They never know when they're being taped."

—President Nixon, during a 1977 interview with British broadcaster David Frost, not really understanding how criticizing other countries for "tapes" might not be the best idea.

On Young People Problems

Former President Herbert Hoover

"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."

—President Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), during a 1936 address to the Nebraska Republican Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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On Democracy

Winston Churchill

"Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

—Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister (1940 to 1945, 1951 to 1955), explaining why democracy still rules.

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On Hard Work

Former President Abraham Lincoln

"My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it."

—President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), in a letter to his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, on July 18th, 1864.

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