Michele Bachmann's John Wayne serial killer gaffe

The GOP presidential candidate confuses John Wayne, icon of the American West, with John Wayne Gacy, creepy clown serial killer. Cue the witty remarks

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) got her presidential campaign off to an inauspicious start on Monday by inadvertently suggesting that she has the "spirit" of a serial killer.
(Image credit: Brooks Kraft/Corbis)

Whoops! Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign get off to a rough (but amusing) start on Monday. On the same day as her official campaign announcement for the Republican presidential nomination in Waterloo, Iowa, the Tea Party favorite told Fox News, "John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too." (Watch it here.) There was just one problem. John Wayne, the iconic American movie star, isn't from Waterloo, but rather Winterset, Iowa. Waterloo's famous John Wayne is John Wayne Gacy, a sadistic serial killer who dressed as a clown, and raped and murdered 33 men in the 1970s. This latest gaffe, which Bachmann later owned up to on Fox News, has commentators cracking wise. Here, a sampling:

Too easy

"We don't even need to make the jokes about Bill Clinton's beginning his political career in 'a place called Hope,' vs Bachmann tempting fate by launching hers in a place called Waterloo," says James Fallows at The Atlantic.

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History lessons

The serial-killer connection is "not exactly a stirring selling point for Waterloo tourism, nor Bachmann, the 'seventh generation Iowan,'" says Joe Quimby at Under the Golden Dome. "Bachmann may need to brush up a bit on her Iowa history."

Blame the help

Maybe "an intern who had one eye on True Blood while Googling famous Iowans last night gave Bachmann some bad information," says Dan Amira at New York. "This may have been the same intern who told Bachmann that the battles of Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire."

An easy mistake

"To be fair, the actor John Wayne was from Winterset, Iowa, which is only a few hours drive away, starts with a 'W.' and has three syllables," says Dennis DiClaudio at Comedy Central's Indecision. "And the actor John Wayne has killed a whole bunch of people on screen which looks a little like killing people in real life. So, you can totally see why Bachmann might get confused."

Moving on

At least her new campaign website is, "wisely, devoid of historical references," says Samantha Henig at The New Yorker.

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