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"In Ayn Rand's wonderful book Atlas Shrugged, the main question throughout the book is 'Who is John Galt?' The question everyone now is asking is, 'Who is Dan Quayle?'"
—Reporter in a newspaper article for the New Orleans Times Picayune
Dan Quayle was the otherwise forgettable vice president of the otherwise forgettable first President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush
. Originally a senator from Indiana, he became well known after George Bush named him as his running mate. Most famous for essentially being a non-entity catapulted into the spotlight, and for making several Malapropers
and/or misinformed remarks; the most common caricature of him is essentially as politics' Ralph Wiggum
- He famously was judging a spelling bee and told a child who had gotten the answer correct that it was wrong, then proceeded to "correct" them to the wrong version. That this was a single incident in which Quayle was reading from an answer card prepared by a teacher was irrelevant—he quickly became forever known as the man who spelled it "potatoe".
- Quayle made a comment in which he claimed that the show Murphy Brown was disreputable because of its positive portrayal of a professional woman who chose to be a single mother. The show's producers responded by airing an episode in which Murphy dealt with the criticism, featured several real-life single parents, and generally took the high road in dealing with the speech (both in terms of the fictional character and the show itself)... until the very end of the episode, when they showed a dump truck backing up to Quayle's official residence and dumping a load of the obvious vegetable while an radio commentator notes that Quayle should count himself lucky he didn't misspell "fertilizer."
- In the 1988 vice-presidential debate, Quayle, then only 41 years old, compared himself to John F. Kennedy, who at 43 years old when he won in 1960 had been the youngest presidential candidate in American history. A very famous reply by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen occurs, where Bentsen said:
- Muted a bit, though, when he actually became VP and didn't do anything that actively damaged America.
- The nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Republican vice-presidential candidate to John McCain in the 2008 Presidential Campaign raised the issue that Palin may have been yet another Quayle-type candidate, someone brought out of obscurity who wouldn't outshine the presidential candidate. This may have backfired, as Palin not only did just that, but her propensity for misspeaking earned her comparisons to Quayle for a whole different reason.
- Democratic counterpart Joe Biden's propensity for misspeaking was brought up in the same election, but not nearly as much: Biden is well-known to be a very smart guy with serious, proven policy credentials who happens to let his mouth run faster than his brain sometimes; the same could not be said for Quayle or Palin.
- Dave Barry was fond of referring to Quayle as the best security George Bush could have, on the basis that nobody would assassinate Bush if it meant Quayle as president.
- There was also a common joke (most famously related by then-Senator John Kerry) that "If Bush is shot, the Secret Service has orders to shoot Dan Quayle."
- The "best security" thing has been referenced about Vice President Joe Biden because the people who hate President Obama generally hate him even more.
- It also has been used for Vice President Dick Cheney. The people who hated George W. Bush saw him as an idiot whereas they saw Dick Cheney as genuinely evil.
- National Space Council chairman Quayle failed astronomy forever: "Mars is essentially in the same orbit [as Earth]....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."
- The thing about that quote is, every single one of those statements is true, From a Certain Point of View. Mars' distance from the sun is, well, not similar (the Martian year is 687 days), but it is within the Sun's habitable zone, where liquid water could regularly exist. People did think they saw canals on the Martian surface when they first studied it. There is water on Mars, frozen in the permafrost, and water molecules do contain oxygen atoms which can be liberated by electrolysis (and, hence, breathed, without the need to carry your own oxygen supply to Mars from Earth). Presumably Quayle read a lot of pulp SF as a kid.
Dan Quayle in media:
- In Thirteen, all of the characters go to Dan Quayle Junior High School, home of the Quayle Quails.
- Used to terrify Bill the Cat into sweating, producing the core ingredient for cat-sweat hair tonic.
Milo: (to Bill) "President Quayle!" (to Oliver)"He's sweating."
Oliver: "I'm sweating."
- Apparently he lettered the word "ransome" in chapter 12 of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
- The short lived 1988 show Mann And Machine set Twenty Minutes into the Future often made references to 'President Quayle'.
- There exists a Where's Wally? parody entitled Where's Dan Quayle? which challenges readers to spot Quayle in different locations, including the Republican National Convention and a Palm Springs golf tournament. You can't make this stuff up.
- A puppet of him made frequent appearances on DC Follies.
- In the TL-191 series by Harry Turtledove, Jake Featherston's Confederate vice-president is an amiable nonentity called Don Partridge, a Shout-Out to Quayle who spends most of his time making up ribald jokes. The last book suggests that his demeanour was at least in part an act, though.
- In Civilization, he is listed as the worst leader in human history. Worse than Æthelred the Unready, Warren Harding and Nero!
- Civ 4 also uses his quote "The future will be better tomorrow" for the technology Future Tech.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Washingtoons" had Buster and Babs Bunny seek his help to prevent the Moral Guardian villain from wiping their "toonniness". In this episode, Quayle is portrayed as Stupid Good who runs around his room all giddy yelling "Buster and Babs are in my room!" (though at least there were no Murphy Brown or potato jokes).
- In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an Alternate History scenario, Quayle is a National Guard sergeant called up to reinforce the army in Vietnam due to the war escalating there again after 1972. He becomes nationally known after first being a war hero yet later leading a mutiny of troops protesting against inhumane treatment.
- He appeared (somewhat) in an episode of Super Dave's cartoon, when Dave met the President. Quayle acts like a young child throughout the segment...while Dave gives him a piggyback ride.
Quayle: Horsey, horsey!
Super Dave: That's enough from you, Mr. Vice President.
- The Red Dwarf episode Legion mentions several future supergeniuses whose surnames are ironically those of people known in the present for being stupid, including (singer Noddy) Holder, (impressionist Bobby) Davro and (Dan) Quayle.
- In Donnie Darko the conservative teacher Mrs. Farmer announces her intention to vote for Quayle.
- In the Eerie Indiana episode "No Brain, No Pain" that came out during the Bush-Quayle years, one character threatens to destroy another character's brain, saying he's about to get "vice-presidential".
- Fallout 2 has Daniel Bird, vice-president of the American shadow-government, the Enclave, who volunteered as a test-subject for a biological weapon, and ended up severely brain-damaged when the experiment when haywire. When the Player Character meets him, all he does is standing around idly in his office and sprouting random lines, which are more or less paraphrases of or directly lifted from some of Dan Quayle's statements.