George H.W. Bush was a pro at telling corny jokes

George H.W. Bush was a pro at telling corny jokes

Despite his much-parodied admonishment to “be prudent,” George H.W. Bush was actually funny—and sometimes gleefully imprudent.

On summer breaks from the White House, Bush loved speeding full-throttle in his twin-engine, V-8 cigarette boat, to the white-knuckled terror of guests at his family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

And though he first bailed out of a cockpit at age 18, as a World War II Navy pilot in the Pacific, old age wouldn’t keep him from jumping out of still more airplanes.

Who can forget the image of a gleeful Bush, celebrating his 90th birthday four years ago with a tandem skydive — despite being wheelchair-bound and suffering from Parkinson’s?

His endearing quirks were many. He was fond of colorful socks, the louder the better. In a photo he tweeted in June, he posed alongside Bill Clinton flashing his blue socks bearing his White House successor’s image.

“Luckily I had a fresh laundered pair of @BillClinton socks to mark the occasion,” Bush tweeted.

“I like a colorful sock,” he explained in 2012, in an interview with his granddaughter, TODAY show host Jenna Bush Hager. “I’m a sock man.”

After taking office in 1989, Bush banished broccoli from Air Force One and the White House.

“I do not like broccoli,” he famously explained.

“And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”

Bush had an earnest, at times cornball, sense of humor.

“Did you hear the one about the duck that went into the bar?” Ellen Warren, the Chicago Tribune’s former White House correspondent, recalled fondly Saturday, describing a memorable clunker.

“Bartender looked at the duck and said, ‘Your pants are down.’”

Bush got nothing but vacant stares when he told the joke in 1992 at the Waffle House in Spartanburg, S.C., remembered Warren.

“The Most Powerful Man on Earth gamely explained: Ducks? Covered in down? Get it?” she wrote.

His humor was often self-deprecating, but never so much as in 1992, when he invited comedian Dana Carvey to the White House — to reprise in person his gently mocking Bush impersonation.

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