Dan Quayle

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Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they're to shoot Quayle.
John Kerry

James Danforth "Potatoe" "No Jack Kennedy" Quayle (1947–) was the Vice President of the United States during the George H. W. Bush Presidency. Bush chose Quayle as his running mate to pander to the far-right wing of the GOP, including his Bircherite ancestry: his parents were proud John Birch Society members.[1]:231 He is also a professional dumbass and the late-20th century's greatest gift to the art of satire. (He may have also been a Time Lord.) Quayle's political stature was immortalised in the first edition of Sid Meier's CivilizationWikipedia as the benchmark for the poorest performance in the game (and continues to serve as such in the latest editions). He is a serious contender for "worst Vice President ever." Keep in mind that the list of Vice Presidents includes a Sith Lord, someoneWikipedia who wanted to conquer the “hollow Earth” and took a nine-month leave during a crisis, a man so corrupt even Nixon wanted no piece of him, freakin' Aaron Burr, and three guys whoWikipedia engaged in active treason.

The chief reason for his inclusion on RationalWiki is that despite his near-heroic level of dumbassery, given the choice, many people would have given anything to have him back as Vice President over George W. Bush's VP, Dick Cheney, as stupid is better than evil, although some claim there isn't really a difference. Many were convinced that if John McCain had won the Presidency in 2008, America would have basically had Dan Quayle on estrogen as the VP. He made an amazingly pitiful run for the presidency in 2000, though the eventual GOP nominee, George W., was little better in hindsight.



Word salad Quotes[edit]

Why do GOP Vice Presidents come in only two varieties: evil incarnate, or dumb as a post? It cannot be to balance the ticket.
  • What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.- Speaking before the United Negro College Fund, 9 May 1989
  • The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. No, not in this nation, but in World War II. I mean we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century, but in this century's history.- 15 September 1988
  • Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.- 25 April 1989
  • Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.- 11 August 1989
  • Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.- 30 October 1988
  • Don't forget about the importance of the family. It begins with the family. We're not going to redefine the family. Everybody knows the definition of the family. [pause] A child. [pause] A mother. [pause] A father. There are other arrangements of the family, but that is a family and family values.- Speaking to Hispanic Job Corps students in Amarillo, Texas.[2]
  • Republicans understand the importance of bondage between the mother and child.- October 1988[3]
  • Potato. P-O-T-A-T-O-E.- 15 June 1992, at a spelling bee[4]

Though as with all broken clocks...[edit]

  • Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away... I do know the position you're in. I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That's all you do. You have no power.- January 2021 to Mike Pence[5]

Danny And 'Nam[edit]

The less privileged – from the ghettos and the hills of Appalachia and Midwest steel mills and automobile factories – fought that war in disproportionate numbers; the best and the brightest planned the war but did not send their sons.
—Myra MacPherson, The Washington Post[6]

One of the most famous controversies regarding Quayle is the fact that he didn't serve in the Vietnam War despite being perfectly eligible to have done so. Of course, the massive overall difference in social class between those who planned the war and those who fought it was long known by the time Quayle ran for Vice President, and in Quayle's case it is believed that he used connections his father had made to join the National Guard as opposed to fighting in Vietnam, a conflict he was fully in support of at the time.[7]

Murphy Brown[edit]

One of Quayle's most infamous speeches occurred on May 19, 1992, where he talked about the "poverty of values" in the United States[note 1] with a specific target being the television situation comedy series Murphy BrownWikipedia. After talking about the lack of morality in the United States, Quayle declared:

It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.[8]

Funnily enough, Candice BergenWikipedia, who played Murphy Brown, found herself agreeing with Quayle, later saying, "I never have really said much about the whole episode, which was endless, but his speech was a perfectly intelligent speech about fathers not being dispensable and nobody agreed with that more than I did."[9] However, this goes to show the major issue with what Quayle said: almost nobody believed that Murphy Brown, or any other television character, was supposed to be a role model personality they should aspire to be like. Even watching the first episode, where Brown is revealed to have just gotten out of rehab for alcoholism, should suffice to prove that. This doesn't even get into how, in the story of the show, Brown was considered intelligent during her time as a single mother because the man who knocked her up ran out on her due to his unwillingness to give up the childfree life—what would Quayle have preferred she do, get an abortion?

See also[edit]


  1. One has to wonder if having Republicans Ronald Reagan and then Bush in the White House for the previous eleven years had anything to do with that.
  2. An as-yet unwritten volume of biography. Here's hoping it stays that way.


  1. Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek (2023) Basic Books. ISBN 1541673565.
  2. Reported by Time magazine, 10 October 1988, which reported he "tried for an inspirational touch and came off like a LifeSpring instructor."
  3. Reported in U.S. News and World Report, 10 October 1988
  4. Gaffe with an 'e' at the end He was reading from cue cards and was not corrected by anybody present at the event
  5. How Dan Quayle saved democracy. Yes, really.
  6. Myra MacPherson, Dan Quayle and the Vietnam Question. The Washington Post, 19 August 1988.
  7. Michael Isikoff and Joe Pichirallo, Quayle Was in Line to Be Drafted. The Washington Post, 20 August 1988.
  9. Candice Bergen agrees with Quayle