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Dan Quayle's Skeleton Closet

Picture of Quayle

J. Danforth ("Dan") Quayle is, simply, an idiot. He's also a spoiled rich kid who dodged the draft and has had everything handed to him on a silver platter. And yet, with those advantages, he has managed just two achievements -- amusing the world, and improving his golf game.

Here are some allegations:

- Quayle avoided the Vietnam War, by having his politically connected relatives pull strings to get him safely into the National Guard.

- His alleged (self-proclaimed) drug dealer was thrown into solitary confinement before he could talk to the press -- until after the presidentia election.

- He's dumber than a mud fence

- Attempted (and Failed) Adultery

- Surprisingly Bad Health

- Quotes by Dan Quayle

- Jokes about Dan Quayle

- Sources

Pulling Strings to Avoid the Draft:

Like George Bush, Jr. and Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle was a wealthy young man who avoided Vietnam by joining the National Guard. Unlike college deferments, open to anyone who stayed in college, National Guard slots were limited and highly sought after, particularly by budding young politicians who wanted to say they "joined up." Each of these three candidates had very politically connected families who presumably pulled strings; in Quayle's case we have the strongest evidence of that. His uncle asked Wendell Phillippi to put in a good word for Quayle. Phillippi, a former commanding general of the Indiana Guard, was at that time the managing editor of the Quayle-family-owned "Indianapolis News" paper.

Listen to his own words:

"Obviously, if you join the National Guard, you have less of a chance of going to Vietnam. I mean it goes without saying." -- Quayle on NBC's `Meet the Press', 9/20/92. (reported in the Houston Chronicle 9/21/92)

"I do -- I do -- I do -- I do -- what any normal person would do at that age. You call home. You call home to mother and father and say, `I'd like to get into the National Guard.'" -- Quayle, 8/19/88 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"I did not know in 1969 that I would be in this room today, I'll confess." -- Quayle in 1988 responding to questions about allegations that he used family connections to get into the Indiana National Guard (reported in the Washington Post, 8/26/88).

"When you get into conflict, and regional conflicts, I mean, you have to have certain goals, and a goal cannot be really a no-win situation." (reported in the Washington Post, 9/6/88).

"I got into the Guard fairly. There were no rules broken, to my knowledge... I, like many, many other Americans, had particular problems about the way the war was being fought. But yes, I supported my president and I supported the goal of fighting communism in Vietnam." -- Quayle (reported in High Times, 11/92)

Even when denying he dodged the draft, Quayle admits that he didn't want to fight or even be part of the war. Quayle's spokesman David Beckwith told reporters in 1992 that "as the war was being fought in a no-win fashion, he, along with everyone else, was against the war as it was being conducted." Quayle himself added, incorrectly, that "in 1969, even President Nixon didn't support the war in Vietnam."

Quayle's defense has been that there were always openings in the National Guard, so he didn't need special favors. This is a half-truth at best. Only the headquarters of the Indiana National Guard had any openings, and these were reserved for what Guard officials called "intelligent and presentable people," though special connections usually proved more important. Quayle's connection steered him to these hidden slots and helped him get one. Meanwhile, other units in Indianapolis and elsewhere in Indiana had waiting lists of up to 1,000 people, right up until the draft was eliminated, and these people were not told about the headquarters unit. An exact figure for Indiana is not available, but nationwide over 100,000 men were on waiting lists to get into the National Guard.

Dumb as a Mud Fence:

Even a casual reading of Quayle's quotes makes it clear that he has serious trouble thinking. These are not isolated, out of context quotes; we selected the ones on this page from hundreds or equally or even more dumb statements; these are just the funniest or wildest ones. Quayle was a poor student at DePauw university, with a 2.4 grade point average, and numerous Ds in political science, his major.

He got into the University of Indiana Law School despite a policy they had to reject all applicants with averages below 2.6. Quayle told frat brothers that he applied to law school because he heard that "lawyers make lots of money and do little." The Dean of Admissions was G. Kent Frandsen, a Republican city judge who was always endorsed by the local Quayle-family-owned newspaper. The Quayles gave lots of money to the law school, and the Admissions Dean later officiated at Quayle's marrige, and served as his campaign manager in Boone County when Quayle ran for senate.

Even with all of these connections, the only way Quayle was admitted was as part of an affirmative action program designed for disadvantaged students, primarily black students.

Drug Use and Coverup

Many current politicians and political candidates have admitted marijuana use, from Bill Clinton and Al Gore to Newt Gingrich, and it hardly seems like much of a scandal anymore. But in Dan Quayle's case, he acts and speaks in such a constantly stoned manner, and his mental abilities are in such doubt, that you have to wonder what he might have taken.

According to Alexander Cockburn in "The Nation" magazine, Quayle's fraternity -- the notorious DKE or "Dekes" -- held a 1968 party with a psychedelic theme, called "The Trip." (A great b-movie drug exploitation film of that name came out about that time.) Cockburn says that the DePauw University yearbook has a picture of Quayle with this caption: "'The Trip' is a colorful psychedelic journey into the wild sights and sounds produiced by LSD."

Later, convicted drug dealer Brett Kimberlin told WBAI radio in New York that Quayle met him at a fraternity pot party. This was in November, 1988, just before the presidential election. "He found out that I had marijuana avilable at the time," said Kimberlin. "It was good quality, and he asked if I had any for sale....I thought it was kind of strange. He looked kind of straight. I thought he might be a narc [DEA agent] at first. But we talked and I felt a little more comfortable, and finally I gave him my phone number and said, 'Hey, well, give me a call.' He called me a couple weeks later, and said, 'Hey, this is DQ. Can we get together?' and I said 'Yes, meet me at the Burger Chef restaurant.' We struck up a relationship that lasted for 18 months. I sold him small quantities of marijuana for his personal use about once a month during that period. He was a good customer. He was a friend of mine. We had a pretty good relationship. He always paid cash. [...] When him and Marilyn got married in 1972, I gave him a wedding present of some Afghanistan hashish and some Acapulco gold."

Kimberlin, like most convicts, has some credibility problems, but the official reaction to his statements actually gave credence to what he said. Kimberlin's scheduled press conference, 4 days before the election, was canceled and Kimberlin was placed in solitary confinement. The day before the election, Kimberlin was again put in solitary for attempting to contact reporters, and was later disciplined to further attempts.

An official of Quayle's 1988 campaign admitted calling a Justice Department official and expressing "amazement" that Kimberlin was scheduled to have a news conference in prision that evening. He was told it was within Kimberlin's rights. But later in the day, the director of the entire US Bureau of Prisons, J. Michael Quinlan intervented to cancel the news conference. Quinn's ultimate boss, of course, was Ronald Reagan who was president at the time. George Bush Sr. was Vice President and Quayle's running mate.

Kimberlin later sued Quinn and US District Judge Harold H. Greene ruled that the allegations were "tangible and detailed" enough to justify a trial. The suit was later thrown out on appeal, with the 9 appeals courts judges voting almost exactly on party lines.

In September 1993, Justice Department inspector general concluded that officials unfairly disciplined Kimberlin, but concluded that there was no "conspiracy to silence" him.

Though he spoke out against drugs in the 1988 and 1992 elections, Quayle was more supportive of marijuana in earlier years. In 1977 and 1978, he wrote articles supporting decriminilization of marijuana.

Attempted (and failed) Adultery:

On the day Bush named Dan Quayle as his surprise choice for Vice-President, the giddy young Senator was rushed to join Bush on the campaign trail. Dan Rather asked Quayle what his worst fear was. Quayle honestly answered "Paula Parkinson".

On March 6, 1981 the Wilmington, Delaware News-Journal reported that Parkinson, a Washington D.C. agricultural lobbyist took a Florida vacation, and shared a cottage, with Quayle and Republican Congressmen Thomas Evans and and Tom Railsback. Parkinson, who later posed for Playboy and claimed affairs with at least 5 Congressmen, was apparently a very persuasive lobbyist; she was then fighting federal crop-insurance legislation and all three voted against it. Quayle denied having sex with her, and she confirmed that, though only because she was sleeping with Evans at the time. However, she said about Quayle that ""We flirted a lot and danced extremely close and suggestively. He said he wanted to make love." In his own defense, Quayle said: "I hope there's some respect and dignity for things I did not do."

So what's worse -- cheating on your wife, as Clinton did, or dirty dancing with another woman and trying to cheat on your wife, but getting rejected?


There are so many great Dan Quayle quotes, and many are very famous. At least one of his bloopers -- "What a terrible thing it is to lose one's mind..." -- is now in Bartlett's Famous Quotations! We're starting out with some lesser known gems, so if you want to skip ahead to his famous bloopers, click here.

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit... 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." -- Quayle, 8/11/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"I want to be Robin to Bush's Batman." -- Quayle

"We should develop anti-satellite weapons because we could not have prevailed without them in 'Red Storm Rising'."-- Quayle

"Republicans have been accused of abandoning the poor. It's the other way around. They never vote for us." -- Quayle,1988

"Bank failures are caused by depositors who don't deposit enough money to cover losses due to mismanagement." -- Quayle, 1988

"Are they taking DDT?" -- Quayle asking doctors at a Manhattan AIDS clinic about their treatments of choice, 4/30/92 (reported in Esquire, 8/92, and NY Post early May 92)

"The best thing about rain forests is they never suffer from drought."-- Quayle

"Let me tell you something. As we were walking around in the store, Marilyn and I were just really impressed by all the novelties and the different types of little things that you could get for Christmas. And all the people that would help you, they were dressed up in things that said, "I believe in Santa Claus." And the only thing that I could think is that I believe in George Bush." ---- Senator Dan Quayle

"I was known as the chief grave robber of my state." ---- Quayle

"My position is that I understand from a medical situation, immediately after a rape is reported, that a woman normally, in fact, can go to the hospital and have a D and C. At that time... that is before the forming of a life. That is not anything to do with abortion." ---- Senator Dan Quayle, explaining that Dilatation and Curettage, a form of abortion which occurs after fertilization, is not really abortion

"You're a very strong woman... Though this would be a traumatic experience that you would never forget, I think that you would be very successful in life. " ---- Senator Dan Quayle, telling an 11-year-old girl why he would want her to have the baby if she were raped by her father

"It was just a job. It wasn't any special interest in consumer affairs. I needed a paycheck and the Attorney General said that I would be best to go down there, because he knew I was anti-consumer." ---- Quayle, talking about his job as Chief investigator, consumer protection division of the Indiana Attorney General's office from 1970-1971

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."-- Quayle, 1988

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." -- Quayle, 1988

"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child." -- Quayle, US News and World Report (10/10/88)

"Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts." -- Quayle addressing the 20th anniversary celebration of the moon landing, 7/20/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"You always learn something by reading the classics. Particularly The Prince. I go through and look at this from this intellectual point of view. Machiavelli had these three classes of mind. The first class was the person that was creative enough to be leader and be able to lead a great nation without much help. The second class of mind was one that wasn't creative but could take ideas, put people around him, and be able to lead nations forward. And the third class of people didn't really know much of anything. And they were the worst kind of leaders, because not only were they not creative, but they didn't know what was right or wrong, and they just sort of went by whatever they felt like.
I've tried to figure out where I am. I know I'm not the first because I don't think I have the creativeness that Machiavelli talks about. If I go back and reread it I might figure it out exactly where I put myself. I'm somewhere between two and one."-- Senator Dan Quayle gives his opinion of the book `The Prince', 9/28/88 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"Our party has been accused of fooling the public by calling tax increases 'revenue enhancement.' Not so. No one was fooled." -- Quayle, 1988

"Votes are like trees, if you are trying to build a forest. If you have more trees than you have forests, then at that point the pollsters will probably say you will win." ---- Senator Dan Quayle, during the '88 campaign

"We'll let the sunshine come in and shine on us, because today we're happy and tomorrow we'll be even happier." -- Senator Dan Quayle, addressing students at a high school in Miami with the highest dropout rate of the city

"Bobby Knight told me this: 'There is nothing that a good defense cannot beat a better offense.' In other words a good offense wins." -- Quayle comparing the offensive capabilities of the Warsaw Pact with the defensive system of NATO, 9/8/88 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"We expect them [Salvadoran officials] to work toward the elimination of human rights." -- Quayle

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change."-- Quayle, 5/22/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure." --Quayle, to the Phoenix Republican Forum, 3/23/90 (reported in Esquire, 8/92) Also reported by Reuters, 5/2/90

"I not going to focus on what I have done in the past what I stand for, what I articulate to the American people. The American people will judge me on what I am saying and what I have done in the last 12 years in the Congress." -- Vice President Dan Quayle

"May our nation continue to be the beakon of hope to the world."-- The Quayle's 1989 Christmas card

"I can identify with steelworkers. I can identify with workers that have had a difficult time." -- Quayle addressing workers at an Ohio steel plant,1988

"[I will never have] another Jimmy Carter grain embargo, Jimmy, Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter grain embargo, Jimmy Carter grain embargo." -- Quayle, during the Benson debate

"We shouldn't have to be burdened with all the technicalities that come up from time to time with shrewd, smart lawyers interpreting what the laws or what the Constitution may or may not say." ---- Vice-President Dan Quayle

"Lookit, I've done it their way this far and now it's my turn. I'm my own handler. Any questions? Ask me ... There's not going to be any more handler stories because I'm the handler ... I'm Doctor Spin."-- Quayle responding to press reports his aides having to, in effect, "potty train" him

"I would guess that there's adequate low-income housing in this country." -- Quayle

"[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system." -- Quayle, on the concept of a manned mission to Mars

"Perestroika is nothing more than refined Stalinism." ---- Senator Dan Quayle

"Let me say it one more time. It is ill-rel-e-vant. ... [Why?] Because. Because I say it isn't." ---- Senator Dan Quayle, explaining why questions about his parents' ties to the John Birch Society aren't relevant

"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things." -- Quayle

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."--Quayle

"Unfortunately, the people of Louisiana are not racists." -- Quayle, regarding David Duke's candidacy

"Let me just tell you how thrilling it really is, and how, what a challenge it is, because the real question for 1988 is whether we're going to go forward to tomorrow or past to the -- to the back!" -- Quayle, 8/17/88 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

And his Greatest Hits:

"Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is IN the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here."-Quayle, in Hawaii, 4/25/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

"What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is." -- Quayle, winning friends while speaking to the United Negro College Fund, 5/9/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92, and the NY Times, 12/9/92).This gem has been added to Bartlett's `Familiar Quotations'.

"You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be." -- Quayle, to the American Samoans, whose capital Quayle pronounces "Pogo Pogo"

Quayle stumbled in response to a question about his opinion of the Holocaust. He said it was "an obscene period in our nation's history." Then, trying to clarify his remark, Quayle said he meant "this century's history" and added a confusing comment. "We all lived in this century, I didn't live in this century," he said. -- (reported in Esquire, 8/92, The New Yorker, 10/10/88, p.102)

Surprisingly Bad Health

Quayle is still one of the younger candidates for president, though he has been in the public eye for a decade, and he tries to portray a sense of youthful vigor and energy. But his campaign tries to avoid any discussion of Quayle's very real health problems, which might limit his ability to serve as president if elected.

First Quayle developed phlebitis in a vein near the surface of one of his legs in 1993. This condition can lead to deadly blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. In 1994, one of these blood clots broke free and lodged in his lung, sending Quayle to the intensive care unit for a week.

In 1995, he had an appendectomy, and the biopsy found a nonmalignant tumor calleda "mucinous cystadenoma" on the appendix.

Jokes About Dan Quayle

"Dan Quayle is more stupid than Ronald Reagan put together." - - - Matt Groening, 1993 "If life were fair, Dan Quayle would be making a living asking, 'Do you want fries with that?'" - - - John Cleese


George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography," by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin. This is a very interesting, if liberally slanted and conspiracy-minded critique of Bush. The Quayle material is in chapter 22, "Bush Takes the Presidency," pages 16-20 of the web version.

"Eleanor Randolph, "Ghost of Dan Quayle's grandfather laid to rest," Dallas Times-Herald, August 23, 1988.

Elinor J. Brecher, "Marilyn Quayle called 'prototype of the new-age political spouse," Louisville Courier-Journal, September 25, 1988.

List of Quayle quotes: sent separately by readers Ross Sauer and Lisa Chin. Most sources are included with each particular quote. There are also several Quayle quote web pages. Try these:
Damen's Quayle Quote Page
Quayle Quotes Page
Weird World of Wes: Quayle Quotes
Dan, Dan, Our Number Two Man
"The Official Internet Dan Quayle Quote List"
Affirmation Fun Factory

Paula Parkinson affair:

"Sex Tour of Washington", Playboy Magazine Online (includes nekkid photo of Parkinson; grownups only)
"Indecent Proposal," Time Magazine, October 19, 1998

The Wilmington, Delaware News-Journal, March 6, 1981

Congressional Sex Scandals in History: Thomas Evans," by Ken Rudin, in "Clinton Accused: Special Report", the The Washington Post Online, ongoing

Drug Use: "Court takes appeal of man who claims he sold Quayle pot", by Timothy Phelps, Austin American-Statesman, January 21, 1995

"Bush campaign cleared of silencing Quayle's accuser", Austin American-Statesman, July 21, 1993

Alexander Cockburn, "Beat the Devil: Dan Quayle, Acid Freak?" The Nation, September 26, 1988, p. 226.
Joel Bleifuss, "In Short," In These Times, 16-22 November, 1988, p. 5, quoted in next source.
Arthur Frederick Ide, Bush-Quayle: The Reagan Legacy (Irving, Texas: Scholars Books, 1989), pp. 55-56.

Draft Dodger: "New Questions Arise over Quayle Service Enlistment", by Kevin Sack and Jeff Gerth, Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 20, 1992


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