37 Political Facts About Politicians Few Know

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1William L. Scott

In 1974, an American newspaper reported that the US Senator from Virginia William L. Scott was the “Dumbest Member of Congress.” Once while being briefed by members of the military about missile silos in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, he reportedly said “Wait a minute! I'm not interested in agriculture. I want the military stuff.”


2. British politician John Stonehouse faked his death in November 1974, leaving a pile of clothes on a beach in Miami. It was presumed he had gone swimming and drowned. But Stonehouse was actually en route to Australia to set up a new life with his mistress and secretary, Sheila Buckley.


3. Politician Boss Tweed was brought down by Thomas Nast's cartoons, which painted him as the embodiment of corruption. Tweed said to aides, “Let's stop them damned pictures. I don't care so much what the papers write about—my constituents can't read—but damn it, they can see pictures.”


4. Eugene Whelan, a Canadian politician, late to his own dinner party, may have inadvertently initiated the fall of the USSR.


5. Clement L. Vallandigham, a defense lawyer (who was also a congressman) in a murder trial accidentally shot himself and died while reenacting the possibility of a victim accidentally shooting and killing themselves instead of his client. The defendant was then set free.


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6Robert Packwood

In 1988, a US Senator invoked an obscure rule to allow the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest absent Senators and bring them into the chamber for a vote. One Senator named Robert Packwood attempted to escape but was caught and carried feet-first into the Senate chamber by three officers.


7. Boris Nemtsov, a former physicist, and liberal Russian politician who was instrumental in the introduction of capitalism following the collapse of the USSR was shot four times in the back and died on a Moscow bridge in 2015.


8. A U.S. senator named Larry Pressler was called a hero for refusing a bribe from the FBI, to which the senator responded - "I do not consider myself a hero... what have we come to if turning down a bribe is 'heroic'?"


9. In 1855 the mayor of Los Angeles, Stephen Foster, convinced a mob to not kill an accused murderer, but to try him in a court of law. When the accused man was acquitted, the mayor resigned and led a lynch mob to kill the man. He was re-elected a year later.


10. In 1858, a massive brawl between more than 50 US Representatives ended when a missed punch between two Representatives knocked the wig off of Representative William Barksdale's head. The embarrassed Barksdale accidentally replaced the wig backward, causing both sides to erupt in spontaneous laughter.


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11Sue Jones-Davies

Sue Jones-Davies, who portrayed Judith in Monty Python's Life of Brian, later became Mayor of Aberystwyth. She discovered that the town had banned the Life of Brian for 30 years, and her first act was to overturn the ban and stage a screening with Terry Jones and Michael Palin.


12. The first female state senator to be elected in the United States was Martha Hughes Cannon, who was a Mormon polygamous wife. She ran against and defeated her own husband.


13. British politician Tony Benn met his wife in Oxford in 1949. 9 days later, he proposed to her on a park bench. Later, he bought the bench from Oxford City Council and installed it in the garden of their home. They were together for 51 years.


14. Former US Senator Daniel Inouye had his arm blown off in combat while throwing a grenade. He yelled to stay back, snatched the live grenade out of his blown off-hand, then used it and a Thompson sub-machinegun to mow down the remaining Germans. He wasn't awarded the Medal of Honor until the year 2000.


15. A 16th century small town German Mayor named Hans Steininger died by tripping on his beard. It was over 4.5 feet long and he usually kept it tucked away in a pocket, but during a town fire he forgot to put it in and tripped on in it in the chaos, breaking his neck.


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16Howell Heflin

In 1994, United States Senator Howell Heflin accidentally wiped his nose with his wife's panties in front of reporters.


17. Sir Isaac Newton was a member of parliament in the UK, but his only contribution to the debates was to request the window to be closed because of a cold draught.


18. US Senator Daniel Webster turned down two offers to be vice president by William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor because he thought the office was a dead-end position. Both these presidents then died in office.


19. Dan White, the killer of Harvey Milk and the mayor of San Francisco, was charged with Voluntary Manslaughter rather than murder. The Defense had argued that White's mental state was impaired by depression, as proven by him recently eating sugary foods. This became known as the "Twinkie Defense."


20. In 1982, Dennis Wardlow, the mayor of Key West, Florida declared war against the United States, surrendered after one minute, and applied for one billion dollars in foreign aid.


21John Ashcroft

Senator John Ashcroft is the only Senator to lose re-election to a dead person. His opponent died in a plane crash 2 weeks before the vote and his name was unable to be taken off the ballot.


22. Draco was an Ancient Greek legislator who wrote the first code of law in Athens. Over time his laws were seen as increasingly harsh and punitive, which is why we say a law is “draconian” when the punishment is too extreme for the crime.


23. Edward Dickinson Baker was serving as a U.S. Senator when the U.S. Civil War broke out, so re-joined the Army as a colonel. He was killed in battle and he remains the only sitting U.S. senator ever to have been killed in a military engagement.


24. Lithuanian politician Artūras Zuokas won an IG Nobel prize in 2011, for “demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with a tank”. Zuokas had used an armored vehicle to run over an illegally parked car in a Vilnius bike lane.


25. An 11-year-old boy named Brian Zimmerman was elected as the mayor of Crabb, Texas on the platform that he would work to incorporate the town even though it meant he would lose his seat. He was quoted as saying that “the mayor isn’t there to sit and worry about keeping his job. He’s there to do what’s best for the people."

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