The 40 Dumbest Bush Quotes of All Time

A compendium of baffling utterances by President Bush, 2000–2008

President And Mrs. Bush Attend Children's Holiday Reception
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Presidents sure do say the darndest things, don't they? During his eight years in office, President George W. Bush gave us some great laughs. Many of his quotes—often called Bushisms—were among the best political humor we saw in modern history.

Yes, the late night hosts and "Saturday Night Live" did have a lot of fun with him, but we really didn't need professional comedians. Bush set himself up for a chuckle, a shake of the head, or a "What the..." on many occasions. 

From slips of the tongue during speeches to amazingly confusing explanations about important matters, let's take a look at some of the most baffling gaffes from America's 43rd president. We'll kick it off with a doozy about the office itself:

"I'm the commander—see, I don't need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president."

—as quoted in Bob Woodward's "Bush at War"

Good Times for the Grammar Police

All public speakers have difficulty keeping control of their grammar in off-the-cuff statements. President Bush had a particularly difficult time with that, or rather, those types of things.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." —on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., September 26, 2007

"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." —presidential debate, St. Louis, Missouri, October 8, 2004

"I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." —Washington, D.C., October 3, 2001 

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." —Townsend, Tennessee, February 21, 2001

"They misunderestimated me." —Bentonville, Arkansas, November 6, 2000

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." —LaCrosse, Wisconsin, October 18, 2000

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." —Greater Nashua, New Hampshire, January 27, 2000

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" —Florence, South Carolina, January 11, 2000

Hmmm...Let's Just Think About That One

It became pretty clear that in times of stress, President Bush simply followed his stream of thought down the wrong fork in the road.

"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 this country." —Poplar Bluff, Missouri, September 6, 2004

"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." —discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson in 2003, as quoted by Robertson

"I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." —at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, August 13, 2002

"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." —at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., December 10, 2001

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." —Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three nonfatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." —Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 14, 2001

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." —Saginaw, Michigan, September 29, 2000

That's a Great Way to Put It

Sometimes a single word will throw you completely off your train of thought.

"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense." –Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006

"Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a—you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." —Washington, D.C., August 6, 2004 

"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." —Washington, D.C., August 5, 2004

"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." —Nashville, Tenn., September 17, 2002

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." —Washington, D.C., June 18, 2002

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe—I believe what I believe is right." —Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

Politics Is Tough Business

And sometimes the truth of what President Bush believes about government just leaks out...

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —Greece, New York, May 24, 2005

"I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it...I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet...I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't—you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." —after being asked to name the biggest mistake he had made, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2004

"This is an impressive crowd—the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite—I call you my base." —at the 2000 Al Smith dinner

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." —interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, September 6, 2006

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5-pound largemouth bass in my lake." —on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." —Washington, D.C., December 19, 2000

In Hindsight...

It's particularly painful when history proves you ​were wrong from the outset. 

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." —to FEMA director Michael Brown while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, September 2, 2005

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." —on "Good Morning America," September 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

"Can we win? I don't think you can win it." —after being asked whether the war on terror was winnable, "Today" show interview, August 30, 2004

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." —Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our No. 1 priority, and we will not rest until we find him." —Washington, D.C., September 13, 2001

Let's Just Leave It at That

"I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney [his dog] are the only ones supporting me." —talking to key Republicans about Iraq, as quoted by Bob Woodward

"You work three jobs?… Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." —to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, February 4, 2005

"People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child, by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." —Washington, D.C., September 19, 2002

"Do you have Blacks, too?" —to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., November 8, 2001

Going Out in Style

In some of his most poignant misstatements, George W. Bush revealed his bitterness as he was leaving the Oval Office.  

"So what?" —President Bush, responding to an ABC News correspondent who pointed out that Al Qaeda wasn't a threat in Iraq until after the United States invaded, December 14, 2008

"I think I was unprepared for war." —on the biggest regret of his presidency, ABC News interview, December 1, 2008

"Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." —in parting words to world leaders at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as those present looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." —Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008