7 WTFacts (Politicians)


1. Boris Yeltsin hailed a taxi in front of the White House. In his underpants.

Russians are heavy drinkers, and some of their politicians are no exception to that rule. Take Boris Yeltsin for example. Not only did he once fall over during an official war memorial ceremony because he was pissed out drunk, he did more. Once, when he was on an official visit to the White House, during Clinton’s presidency. He must have either brought his own supply of vodka, or he must have broken into the supply of bourbon at the White House, either way, Yeltsin hailed a cab in the middle of the night to get some pizza. Not noticing he hadn’t put on any clothes. Or maybe he just didn’t care. All he wanted was a pizza. (source)

2. Not only did Stephen A. Douglas lose the election against Lincoln, he also lost his wife to Abe.

Stephen A. Douglas wasn’t a lucky man. He was considered short, even for that time, he died at the early age of 48, and he lost the 1860 elections. Abraham Lincoln, the man we now know as the tall guy with neckbeard and top hat who abolished slavery and even went to war over it, was his opponent. A long time before the two would meet in the elections (some time before 1842), Stephen tried to win the hand of Mary Todd; he ‘courted’ her, as it was then called. Eventually, Todd married Lincoln in 1842. Douglas later married another woman in 1847, who gave him two sons, but died during childbirth of their third kid, a girl, which also died a few weeks later. He remarried in 1856, but that didn’t result in any living offspring. Douglas died in 1861. (source)


3. The original ‘Iron Lady’ wasn’t Margaret Thatcher, but Golda Meir (Israel).

If you think ‘Iron Lady’, your thoughts immediately go out to the senile Margaret Thatcher. She was in fact an Iron Lady, but she wasn’t the first. That honour goes to Golda Meir, who became prime minister of Israel in 1969, approximately 10 years before Thatcher. Indira Ghandi (India, 1966-’77 and 1980-’84) was also named Iron Lady, but the term Iron Lady was originally used for Golda. She successfully led Israel through the Yom Kippur War, after which she resigned in 1974. She died in 1978 from leukemia, as opposed to Thatcher, who doesn’t seem to be able to die. (source)


4. Andrew Jackson’s pet parrot had to be removed from Jackson’s funeral, because it wouldn’t stop cursing.

Pol the Parrot was Andrew Jackson’s favourite animal. But Andrew Jackson was somewhat profane in everyday life. Pol picked up on that. Jackson picked up on that as well, and taught him nothing but curse words. Jackson, the 7th POTUS, was quite a badass. He participated in numerous duels, with some resulting into fatal injuries to his competitors. When he was 67 years old, a worker fired a gun at him, twice, but the bullets didn’t fire, after which Jackson beat him senseless with his cane. When Jackson finally died at the respectable age of 78, Pol had to be removed, because -you guessed it- the only thing coming out of its mouth were curse words. And that’s a no-no. (source)


5. The first known use of the abbreviation ‘OMG’ (meaning ‘Oh My God’) was in a letter to Winston Churchill.

Nowadays, OMG has been embedded into every teen girls’ vocabulary. It started as a way to limit the amount of characters of a simple text message, which allowed for a limited amount of characters (I believe it was about 250), but has become so widespread, it became an actual thing to say, much like L-O-L and W-T-F. The first usage of the abbreviation in official documented source, is by a man called ‘Lord Fisher’, in a letter he typed to Winston Churchill in 1917. “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis -O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)- Shower it on the Admiralty!!” is the first line containing the usage of OMG. Whether ‘Lord Fisher’ was a teenage girl, is unknown to me. (source)


6. John F. Kennedy isn’t the fastest public speaker, rather he is one of the slowest.

John F. Kennedy has falsely been attributed as the fastest public speaker around, with a rate of 300 words per minute. He even held the Guinness World Record for a long time. But in actuality, he wasn’t a fast speaker at all, but rather slow and careful picking his words. His inaugural address has an average rate of just under 140 words per minute. However, he could achieve a speed of 300+ words per minute, but that was only while reading from a transcript. If he was speaking normally, even George Bush (155 wpm) exceeded Kennedy’s 106 words per minute. (source)


7. The 2006 internal vote for D66 party leader was between two candidates of rival student-associations.

I can’t finish this list without including one about Dutch politics, and this one even has to do with my city; Leiden. In 2006, a new party leader had to be decided for the liberal democratic party; D66. The two leading candidates were Alexander Pechtold and Lousewies van der Laan. Alexander Pechtold was a member of ‘Minerva’, while Lousewies van der Laan was a member of ‘Augustinus’. These two are the oldest student-associations in Leiden, and while not actively competing for members (they have different target demographics), there is a certain friendly rivalry among the members. (source)

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