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From Adams to Obama: 10 funny political lines

By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Sun August 19, 2012
Both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole have gotten off some zingers in their careers.
Both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole have gotten off some zingers in their careers.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Politicians usually take a joke - but some can make them, too
  • John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were known for their humor
  • Bob Dole's wit could be particularly sharp

(CNN) -- Politicians have always been a fat target for humorists.

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress," Mark Twain once observed. "But I repeat myself."

And Will Rogers once remarked, "I'm not a member of any organized political party -- I am a Democrat."

Mark Katz: The guy who makes politicians funny

But humor from politicians themselves? A much thinner volume.

Nevertheless, there have been a number of witty lines that politicians have come up with -- or, at least, for which they've received credit. Here's a sampling:

John Adams: "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."

Abraham Lincoln: Sen. Benjamin Wade accused the president of being "the father of every military blunder that we've made. You are on the road to hell, sir, with this Government, and you are not a mile off this minute."

"Wade, that is about the distance from here to the Capitol," Lincoln replied.

Theodore Roosevelt: "When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer 'present' or 'not guilty.'"

John F. Kennedy, when asked how he became a war hero: "It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat."

Ronald Reagan: "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency -- even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting."

Bob Dole, on the Senate: "If you're hanging around with nothing to do and the zoo is closed, come over to the Senate. You'll get the same kind of feeling and you won't have to pay."

Bill Clinton, on the White House: "I don't know whether it's the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the American penal system.''

George W. Bush, at the 2000 Al Smith Dinner: "I see [William F.] Buckley is here tonight, fellow Yale man. We go way back, and we have a lot in common. Bill wrote a book at Yale. I read one."

Al Gore, on the 2000 election: "You know the old saying: You win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category."

Barack Obama, on Donald Trump: "Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter -- like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?''

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