On HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took note of politicians from both sides of the aisle who use fake historical quotes supposedly uttered by our founding fathers in order to score cheap political points.
Sharing a clip of GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson rambling on Fox News about Thomas Jefferson writing about “gun control,” Oliver noted the impossibility of that the phrase being used by the founding father as it came into being in the 1960’s — making his quote unlikely.
“Carson is not the lone offender,” Oliver explained. “In this election cycle alone, Buzzfeed found that Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, and Rand Paul had all misquoted great American figures.”
“That is the problem with memes. If you have the right font and the right photo, any quote can seem real,” Oliver said. “And I’ll tell you how I know that. Because for years now you may have seen multiple photos of me comparing gun control to airport security. It’s an interesting thought. Here’s the thing: I never said that! Even though, I’ve now seen it so many times now I’m starting to genuinely wonder if I ever did.”
After showing footage of Presidents Clinton, Reagan and Obama also falling prey to mis-attributed or completely made up quotes, the comedy host introduced a new website created for politicians and political gadflys who substitute things they saw on the Internet for actual historical research.
Called Definitelyrealquotes.com, the website offers up random gems like “Britney, will you accept this rose?” from President Theodore Roosevelt, or “They’re real and they’re spectacular,” possibly said by political philosopher Karl Marx.
As Oliver pointed out, “If quotes no longer have to be real, they should at least be fun.”
Watch the video below uploaded to YouTube: