John Oliver Hilariously Demolishes Fake Founding Father Quotes

Fake quotes. The gods know we’ve seen enough of them. Especially Founding Father quotes and Bible quotes. Most of those we see are fake. Republicans, especially, love them. Because, of course, no Founding Father ever said anything remotely in-line with anything today’s Republicans believe.

That is not to say liberals and progressives do not at times make the same mistake. There are so many of these floating around online that you can find one for just about any purpose. It is easy to make a mistake, and the only way to avoid doing so is to do some research – something most people seem to loathe.

John Oliver, on HBO’s Last Week Tonight had a good time with fake quotes, showing where Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and even Barack Obama, all falsely attributed statements to Abraham Lincoln.

Then, of course, there is Ben Carson, falsely putting gun control words in Thomas Jefferson’s mouth. We’ve seen him ignore quotes that outright contradict his claims about what the Founding Fathers say about Islam. Yet Oliver points out,

“Carson is not the lone offender. In this election cycle alone, Buzzfeed found that Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, and Rand Paul had all misquoted great American figures.”

Indeed they have. And they’re far from alone. David Barton, the right’s pseudo-historian in chief, has made a living inventing things the Founding Fathers supposedly said in support of one or another of the GOP’s hare-brained ideas, including opposition to evolution, women’s right to vote, and many others.

That is the problem with memes. If you have the right font and the right photo, any quote can seem. 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.

In response, Oliver, delivering up a site called, says that “If quotes no longer have to be real, they should at least be fun.”

So if you need a Jefferson quote, here’s something else Jefferson never said:


The best part is, these fake quotes are just as real – and therefore just as relevant – as any quote used by any Republican candidate you care to name. Maybe Oliver has stumbled onto the great Republican secret of where all their fake Founding Father quotes are coming from.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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