Some of our political leaders are natural-born performers, assured during interviews and quick-witted even when things don’t follow the script. Others find it harder to say the right things when it’s their turn to speak. But whichever group they fall into, all politicians spend an uncomfortable amount of time in front of the camera and sooner or later something will be captured on film…forever.
Even when things seems to be going well, politicians can say or do something that is unintentionally hilarious. Take the Prime Minister, who this week struggled to find a spot among other world leaders at D-Day commemorations:
Then he tested out his “schoolboy French” on a bunch of youngsters, punctuating their confused silences with a decidedly awkward laughter:
Finally, senator-elect Ricky Muir fell to pieces on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program after he was unable to answer questions from reporter Mike Willesee.
It’s hard to watch.
But, unbeknownst to them, Abbott and Muir were performing in a theatrical genre known as ‘political gaffes’, one which all sides of politics contribute to. From Mal Meninga’s short-lived political career to Kevin Rudd’s ear-wax snack, politicos have a long history of making asses of themselves.
Here are some of our favourites.
13. Christopher Pyne’s “sex appeal”
It was a case of stating the bleedin’ obvious when Christopher Pyne admitted in an interview that, while he craves sex symbol status, he won’t be getting it anytime soon:
12. Kevin Rudd’s mid-afternoon snack
More gross than awkward, the former PM was caught snacking on his own ear wax during Question Time. Hey, a man’s gotta eat, right?
11. Bill Shorten backs Julia Gillard up
Bill Shorten may have absolutely no idea what Julia Gillard said about Peter Slipper, but he damn well agrees with her.
10. Joe Hockey caught dancing
Following the announcement of his controversial budget measures, Joe Hockey was left red-faced when reporter Laurie Oakes asked him about his pre-budget dance party. Hockey struggled to adequately explain why he and his wife had boogied down in his office to the song “Best Day of my Life” before making the much-debated cuts to welfare and health funding.
9. John Howard bowls a ‘half-tracker’
He may identify himself as a cricket tragic, but during a visit to Pakistan in 2005 John Howard was, well, pretty tragic himself. Of his three attempted deliveries, one was wide and two were dead balls. He promptly swapped to batting.
8. Tony Abbott flaunts his daughters
In his efforts to effectively communicate with the contestants on reality show Big Brother, Tony Abbott may have taken it one step too far. Flanked by his two daughters, Abbott urged the house of potential voters to remember him as “the guy with the not bad-looking daughters”. Their embarrassment was palpable.
7. Craig Emerson’s rendition of ‘Whyalla Wipeout”
When responding to the Opposition’s campaign against the carbon tax in 2012, former trade minister Craig Emerson broke into song. Literally. To the tune of Horror Movie by Skyhooks, Emerson belted a version of the Aussie pop classic that hit all the wrong notes – literally.
6. Kevin Rudd loses his cool
While recording a Chinese language video message during his time as PM, Kevin Rudd lost his temper over the complicated words and dropped several F-bombs. He also insulted the “d**kheads at the embassy”.
Rudd later apologised for the incident telling Sky News, “I wish I’d sweared (sic) less but that’s just the truth of it.”
5. Gillard gets down to earth
During a visit to India in her time as Prime Minister, Julia Gillard took a very public tumble and face-planted on the grass. In her defence, she recovered well and managed to avoid getting a stain on her signature white jacket. Still, it makes for uncomfortable viewing.
4. Mal Meninga bails out
Rugby league player Mal Meninga’s resignation mere seconds after announcing his candidacy as an independent remains the most honest moment in Australian politics. Marking the end of the shortest political career ever, Meninga called it quits mid-sentence:
3. Jaymes Diaz’s “six-point plan”
Liberal hopeful for the 2013 election Jaymes Diaz had a concrete plan to “stop the boats”, he just didn’t quite know what it was.
2. “S**t happens”
Tony Abbott’s slightly inappropriate response when being briefed on the death of a Queensland soldier in Afghanistan – “s**t happens” – could possibly be pinned to momentary panic in a difficult situation. His response to being questioned about his use of the phrase, however, was just plain awkward. His astounding 28-second silence when asked about the incident was both uncomfortable and inexplicable.
1. Tony Abbott’s kiss miss
Taking out the top prize is our current Prime Minister’s painful misstep during his 2013 campaign. In an innocent attempt to execute a standard politician move – kissing a baby on the head – Abbott missed the mark in a massive way and instead landed a smooch right on the head of the infant’s unsuspecting mother.
You can see the uncomfortable moment below at the 2:26 mark but be warned – the awkwardness may elicit a physical response.