On this date in 1992, Vice-President Dan Quayle publicly embarrassed himself in front of rolling television cameras when he instructed a student writing on a blackboard during an elementary school spelling bee in Trenton, New Jersey, to “add one little bit to the end” of the word “potato.”

The student complied and added a final “e”, and Quayle proudly announced “there you go.” (Feel free to check out the accuracy of my abbreviated version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdqbi66oNuI )

Later, Quayle’s error was blamed on a faulty card, on which he had allegedly been presented with erroneous information.

Uh-huh… Likely story… I doubt too many Americans fell for that old “faulty cue card” excuse, but that was the way his Spin Doctors chose to try to save the VP’s face. Heck, they could have just said, “Oops! That was way too much pressure on him! Better not put him in charge of deploying any weapons of mass destruction this month!”

But if Quayle had just thought on his feet, which, apparently along with spelling, was not his strong suit, all he had to do was add one more letter and make the whole thing plural.

You said potato and I heard potatoes, and voila! the problem is solved!

Of course, he didn’t think of that, which validates my long-held belief that I am infinitely smarter than the former Vice-President… But I knew that already…