Obama's Swearing Nothing New for Presidents

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President Barack Obama joined a long line of chief executives who have used profanity and tough words when he told Matt Lauer this morning on the "Today" show that he was talking to experts on the BP oil spill "so I know whose ass to kick."

Still, Obama's words were relatively mild compared with Vice President Joseph Biden gleefully dropping the F-word at the signing of health care reform, or his predecessor, Dick Cheney, who unrepentantly told a Democratic lawmaker to "go f--- yourself" on the Senate floor.

If that's true, then Obama's televised words are unusual in the annals of presidential profanity. Most chief executives who use salty words reserve them for private moments with staff or colleagues, far from TV cameras and reporters.

Lyndon Johnson was known for his rough rhetorical edges, which he usually used to twist arms on Capitol Hill. Richard Nixon was famously profane, although the Watergate tapes that led to his resignation weren't meant for prime time. Jimmy Carter chose a more public venue, a White House dinner, to belie his evangelical Christian upbringing when spoke of Sen. Edward Kennedy's challenge in the Democratic presidential primary, saying he would "whip his ass."

Carter's assertion in 1979 set off a media kerfuffle over whether to report what may or may not have been an obscenity.

By the time President George W. Bush privately swore during what he thought was an un-miked moment with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006, his frustration over United Nations efforts to help end the conflict in Lebanon were not only heard around the world but reported in full....

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