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June 28, 2017 37 mins

Will and Mango plan to build a new Rushmore. But who deserves to be on it? Chester "too many pants" Arthur? Calvin "Vaseline Head" Coolidge? Or just the legendary M Van B? Featuring Cormac O'Brien.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Guess what will? What's that mango? So I love invented games,
like the idea of things like Worlie ball, which is
just like lacrosse played from bumper cars, or elephant polo.
But my new obsession is Hoover Ball, like President Hoover. Yeah,
apparently Hoover's physician told him he needed to lose weight
and be more fit, so they designed this game that's
like tennis meets volleyball, but is played with a medicine ball.

(00:24):
It actually sounds really fun. You can only do certain
types of throws from certain places on the court, and
players actually get sent out of the game for making
errors and how they catch the ball. But as I
was reading up on Hoover and how addicted he was
to the sport, like he played every single morning with
his medicine ball cabinet and he only canceled the game once,
well it made me wonder about American presidents and what

(00:47):
their weird hobbies are. I mean, none of my American
history textbooks had any mention of Hoover Ball. But what
else don't we know about presidents and what juicy, ridiculous
secrets are they hiding? And that's what today's show is
all about, right, say their podcast listeners. Welcome to Part

(01:20):
Time Genius. I'm Will Pearson and as always I'm joined
by my good friend man guest, have ticket here, and
today we're talking about President because the President isn't someone
we talk about enough these days, right. You know, I
feel like i've seen him in the news recently, like
he said a few things and done a few things
recently a couple and a few of those things have
been a little strange, don't you think, I mean, maybe

(01:41):
just a little. But here's the thing. I think the
number of odd things we're hearing and seeing these days
are making us forget just how weird many of our
past presidents were, and we should appreciate them for it.
So that's what I want to talk about. I think
we should give people a little break from hearing about
our current leader of the free world and talk about
the weird personalities who have occupied this office in the past.
You know, you and I have been revisiting one of

(02:03):
our favorite books about the president's Cormack O'Brien's Secret Lives
of the US Presidents, and I know there's a ton
of fascinating stuff in there too. So let's talk history.
That's a great idea, and I think we should tell
our listeners about our big plan. Uh are you sure?
I mean, why not? Okay, So listeners, A few months back,
Will and I discovered a piece of property located on

(02:24):
the mountain side. And on that mountain side we noticed
a rock that looked so much like our eighth President,
Martin Van Buren. And side note, he was the only U.
S President who learned English as a second language. That's right,
his first language was Dutch. And that's crazy how much
this rock looked like him though, you know, with the
eyes and the nose and the hair. It was just striking,
almost scary. So we thought, it's been ninety years since

(02:46):
construction on Mount Rushmore started, and Mount Rushmore is so
far from where we are in Atlanta, we really need
another mountain with the faces of former presidents carved into it.
So let's figure this out. And wouldn't you know it
that properties for sale. Now. We can't tell you guys
where it is because we don't want anyone else to
beat us to this idea. How no one else has
noticed the face of old Marty v b and that mountain?

(03:06):
I have no idea, Yeah, we really need to act quickly,
but first we've got to decide whose faces are going
to be in this mountain. I feel like it shouldn't
be as generic as great presidents. Speaking of which, while
I was doing a little research on our competition, I
learned that Mount Rushmore was originally supposed to be just
Washington and Lincoln. It was only once they started working
on it that they decided to add Thomas Jefferson and

(03:28):
Teddy Roosevelt because they wanted to create a manifest destiny theme.
You know. It's that idea that the US and it's
settlers were destined to expand across the continent, which I
guess plays well into the fact that Rushmore was basically
built to lure a new breed of car bound tourists totally.
By the way, did you know in seven Congress briefly
toyed with adding Susan B. Anthony into the mix? Didn't anyway,

(03:50):
I think our monument needs to be something much more
specific and weird, especially if we're gonna work Old M.
Van B's face on there. Now. While I agree, I
don't want to commit to having the Martin ter in
this mountain just yet, but I definitely think we should
have a strange and memorable theme to it. Okay, I
think we can agree. We're on the same page. Let's
talk themes. What are you thinking? Well, I have a
few ideas, and I know you do too. But if

(04:12):
we're considering including Vanny be, is it okay to call
Martin Van Buren Vanny b Definitely? But if we're considering
Vanny b I think we should have a wall of
presidents who believed in the weirdest health remedies. I'd say
that's pretty specific, but I can already see the sponsorship
angles from kombucha companies and big Ginka. Okay, hit me
with it. What's Van buren'sinfa Well, it turns out Old

(04:34):
Marty was dealing with some pretty chronic stomach issues, and
many scholars think his health declined because of the Panic
of eighteen thirty seven, which was the economic recession that
lasted the better part of a decade or so. So
in order to give his stomach some relief, he decided,
for some reason, to mix up a soothing elixir of soot, charcoal,
and water. Your mom never gave you chimney water to

(04:55):
settle your tongue tongue. I mean, if you had an
irritable stomach to begin with, I can't imagine what this
mixture would do. It's hard to imagine it helped at all. Yeah,
it does not sound tasty, But I like this unusual
health remedies idea. I've got one to add to it,
old vasoline head himself, Calvin Coolidge vasolene head. I always
thought Calvin Coolidge was so boring, and that the most

(05:17):
interesting part about him was his pranks, which were also boring.
Like in the White House he used to ring the
buzzer for the maids and ushers to come and then
runaway or gleefully hide for them, which just kind of
makes him sound like an idiot. But Coolidge was so
much weirder than that. Apparently he enjoyed having petroleum jelly
rubbed all over his head every morning while he enjoyed

(05:38):
his breakfast in bed. I don't know exactly why he
thought this was a good idea for his health, but
he did. Lord, that's weird. It's it's it's an excellent addition,
all right. So let's stick with that one. And then
I think we should include John Quincy Adams for his
love of ice baths and skinny dipping. So he would
apparently take these five am naked swims as a way
to relieve stress. And this wasn't exactly secret journalist and

(05:58):
Royal reportedly ended a big interview with John Quincy Adams
by hiding his clothes after he got in the water.
She then refused to give them back until he answered
her questions, which, of course he did. That's brilliant. I
know you can't imagine a reporter getting that sort of
access to a president these days. Of course, he wasn't
our only president who liked ice baths. Thomas Jefferson did too,
at least for his feet, and he claimed these daily

(06:21):
cold footpaths, which he did for six decades, were the
main reason he lived into his eighties. And I know
he's already on Rushmore, but that's pretty good, right, Definitely
let's keep him in the mix. I think that's a
solid foresome Van Buren, Coolidge, John Quincy Adams and Jefferson.
I'd put my kids in a station wagon and drive
them to see those weirdos, all right, So that's one option. Now,

(06:42):
what were you thinking we should do with this mountain? Well?
Sticking with this idea of shaky or non existent science.
Let's jump to twentieth century presidents and a slightly different category,
presidents with superstitious or supernatural beliefs. All right, okay, so
who do you have in mind for me? The most
surprising superstitious president was f d R. I'm not sure why,
but I think of him as a dealmaker and a

(07:03):
pretty reasonable president. But he had some big quirks. He
wouldn't sit at a table set for thirteen, he refused
to begin to trip on a Friday, and he wouldn't
light three cigarettes off the same match. But as Cormac
O'Brien points out, after FDR died, the funeral train that
carried his body from Georgia it started its journey on Friday. Well,

(07:24):
he was pretty superstitious. So as a side note, I
was thinking about how much things have changed in terms
of interaction between the president and the press since FDR's
time in office. It's just so strange to think that
he had this gentleman's agreement with the press that they
wouldn't photograph him in his wheelchair and they were okay
with it. It's funny I had read that a lot
as well. This kind of romanticized view of the press.

(07:45):
But Matthew Pressman, a professor and journalist, studied this and
found the FDR's disabilities were actually written about quite a lot.
There were New York Times mentions of the ramps he'd
put up for access at the White House, or how
Roosevelt would tool around Hyde Park in his chair. But
most of the narrative, and this is something that FDR
and the press seemed to sell to the public, was
that he was on his way to defeating his disability

(08:07):
through vigorous swims and forcing himself to walk with braces.
Also that whole gentleman's agreement thing. He'd often send his
secret servicemen after anyone taking a photo of him to
basically break their cameras. He was a little more thuggish
about protecting his image than people think. I'd say, Well,
there's no denying he was superstitious, though, So back to
our monument. Do you think we should add Reagan to

(08:28):
the list of presidents who had unusual beliefs? You mean
because of his astrologer? Well, exactly. So It's fair to
say that Ronald and Nancy were pretty superstitious to begin with.
But after the attempted assassination on Reagan when he was
shot back in nine that superstition got cranked up a
few notches for Nancy. The astrologer Joan quickly entered the
picture and began advising Nancy on how they could avoid tragedy,

(08:52):
and after quickly looked at the president's star charts, they
developed his entire schedule around them. Everything he did was
affected by his chart. It's including the takeoff and landing
times of Air Force fun. Let me repeat that in
the nineteen eighties an astrologer was helping to determine the
takeoff and landing times of Air Force one. That's so,

(09:13):
I wonder if this even affected the timing of their
movie watching. I'd forgotten until reading O'Brien's book that Nancy
had also been an actor, and that the two of
them found time almost every day to watch movies. And actually,
there's this great story where Reagan's chief of staff, Jim Baker,
questioned the president on why he hadn't opened a briefing
that he dropped off the night before, and Reagan just
calmly explained, well, Jim, the sound of music was on

(09:35):
last night. I really like your Reagan impression. That's impressive,
and the sound of music is a great movie, so
I kind of get it, all right. So here's another one.
You were just telling me the other day about Jimmy
Carter and the old UFO signing, so we should probably
add that to the list. Definitely. So this happened before
his time as president. This was back in nineteen sixty
nine at a Lions Club meeting in Georgia. He and
some friends reported an object as bright as the moon

(09:58):
to the International UFOB euro and to this day, Carter
is the only president to have reported seeing a UFO,
and he stood by his account, saying it was the
darnest thing I've ever seen. All right. So if we
go with this theme, we have Fdr for his superstition,
Reagan for his astrologer, Carter for his UFOs citing, and
maybe one more. So while we think on that, what

(10:19):
do you say we play a game? Sounds great? So
our guest today is the author of one of our
favorite books about the history of the presidency. It's called
Secret Lives of the U S Presidents, and it's recently
been updated and rereleased with new information on our most
recent presidents. Cormac O'Brien. Welcome to Part time Genius. Thanks

(10:41):
for having me so so, Cormac, have you always been
a huge history of buff Yes, good answer. Yeah. I
knew that I was going to be into history from
a pretty early age, Cormac. Today's episode is about some
of them are bizarre behaviors of our past presidents, and Uh,
when you're doing your sarch for this book, I was wondering,
if you're surprised just how weird some presidents could be. Well,

(11:04):
yes and no, You're right, so many of them are
have been really strange. But on the other hand, I've
often wondered why someone would want to be president in
the first place, given how you know, the rigors of
the office, demands of the office, and it seems like
a losing proposition. Uh. You know, no, no matter what

(11:25):
you achieve, people are going to remember you for your faults,
for your flaws, for your failures, as well as whatever
you achieve, And it almost seems impossible, especially uh, in
modern times when you're under such intense scrutiny. So yes,
on the one hand, Um, a lot of these guys
have been strange or unusual, quirky, bizarre, But on the

(11:49):
other hand, should we be surprised because they're drawn to
the office in the first place, I guess to that end,
I mean, is there anyone that you feel gets a
particularly bad rap end, is there's a little more sympathy. Um,
that's a good question. I think A great example of
what we're talking about is Harry Truman. Because Truman when

(12:09):
he left office had the lowest approval rating in modern times. UM.
Up until that time, no one had ever had such
low approval ratings. And now he's a hero. And it
took decades for his reputation historically to bounce back, which
is interesting. And and historians and journalists started looking, you know,

(12:33):
once they had that, you know, enough years away from
his actual administration, they were able to look with a
clearer eye at what he had achieved. And now he's
he's regarded as, uh, you know, pretty much a total success.
And I've often looked at that as really instructive. We're

(12:54):
you know, when you're living in the times, it's very
different from when you're looking back at it, um. And uh.
And so you know, I mean I've often thought that
the worst president we ever had was Andrew Johnson, uh,
mainly because he was an unabashed bigot at a time
when we were trying to reconstruct the South. Uh, African

(13:18):
Americans needed someone on their side in the White House,
and that was not Andrew John Um And he was impeached,
he was not convicted. But there's a man whose reputation
has never bounced back. Uh, perhaps justifiably. Yeah, well what
about do you have a favorite president to read or

(13:39):
write about? It doesn't matter whether they were a good
president or an effective president in any favorites. Yeah, Theodore Roosevelt,
uh is talk about quirky. Uh, this was this was this.
This is an extraordinary man by any measure, probably the
first Polly Maath to be in the White House since Jefferson.

(14:02):
I mean, he did everything. He was. He was a scientist,
a naturalist, a hunter, He was a scholar. His you know,
his work on the naval aspect of the War of
eighteen twelve is still standard reading for that war. I
mean he just he just dove into that as a
as a young scholar. And uh, he was a cowboy.

(14:25):
He was. He would go on what he called his
point to point sojourns, where he would pick a point
in the wilderness and take his guests on a hike
to that point, and they would have to overcome whatever
obstacles they came across, no matter how arduous that would be.
What do you say, you know he was? He was

(14:46):
kind of like a larger than like personality. Yeah. Yeah.
And your your your entry or your chapter on Teddy
Roosevelt and your book was was terrific. Well, thank you
all right, So, speaking of leaders, we're gonna play a
play a quiz with you today, Cormack. What are we
playing today? Mango? We're playing a game called Not My President.
Because Cormack knows way too much about US presidents, we

(15:07):
thought it'd be fun to test him on other world leaders.
That's right. So this this game is pretty easy. All
you have to do is determine who or where this
leader is from based on the nickname and question. And
I have a feeling you're going to do pretty well
at it. So you're ready to play? I'm ready? Is
ready alight? Here we go question number one. Although nicknames
for this world leader include Botox and the Pale Moth

(15:29):
for his smooth skin, George W. Bush just called him
Pootie poot You got it? He paused for a second,
he's like, wait a minute, it actually this easy, so
it is alright. Question number two. This Prime Minister has
the nickname of a lesser Margaret Thatcher, the steel Lady.
That's right. Question number three. This Chancellor was originally called

(15:52):
mother as an insult, but she and her followers have
embraced the term. Oh, that's right, good job, alright. Question
number four. In China, this Canadian dream boat is called
little Potato, which sounds like his last name in Mandarin.
Uh Trudeau. That's right, alright, to last Yeah, I thought

(16:17):
that was fun, alright. Question number five, This one's a toughie.
President Muhammad Bahari of this large African nation has the
nickname Baba go Slow for his reluctance to appoint a cabinet,
though was The Atlantic points out, he was quick to
name himself oil minister. Can you name the country that

(16:38):
is one? Um, Nigeria. That's right, absolutely right, alright. Last
question here, he's he's five for five so far right, Okay,
let's see if we can get Officially, he's the Supreme
Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but in
neighboring countries he's simply known as King Fatty the third

(16:59):
a six or six. Well, alright, so what is Cormack
one today, Mango? Well, Cormack's astounding job at at our
quiz and titles them to our grand prize, which is
our hard earned admiration. Cormack, thanks so much for joining
us on Part Time Genius. Thanks for having me. It
was fun. Welcome back to Part Time Genius. As you know,

(17:27):
we're talking about this mountain side where we're going to
develop a competitor to Mount Rushmore, but it's going to
have a much weirder and more specific thing. We're probably
gonna need to find some investors for this, but it
seems like such a no brainer that I'm sure that
won't be a problem anyway, give me another idea for
our weird president's mountain side. Well, what if we had
one for weird presidential records? People do love records, So

(17:50):
what do you have in mind? All right, So John
Tyler had fifteen kids, which is a record among presidents,
so that that one seems obvious. But it's not even
the most impressive thing about Tyler's offspring. No, it's not.
I assume you're talking about the fact that two of
John Tyler's grandsons are still a lot. One of Tyler's
sons had two sons of his own very late in life,
and so Tyler was around when George Washington was in office,

(18:12):
and yet he still has two living grandsons. How crazy
is that? It feels unbelievable. So what other records should
we consider? How about the fewest votes for someone who
has served as vice president and president, and that would
be zero votes. That's Gerald Ford because he became president
in ninety four after Nixon resigned, and before that he'd
only been Vice president for eight months, a role that

(18:34):
he stepped into when Spiro Agnew resigned. It is pretty
crazy to imagine serving in both of those roles without
ever having received a single vote for the position. Now.
Ford will also add some athleticism to our mountains, since
he was a linebacker at Michigan and College. Actually, did
you know that he started on the team that won
two national titles and he was a model. Yeah. It's
so bizarre that for all his grace and athleticism, he's

(18:57):
mostly known as a Klotz. After his fall on the
stairs of air was one of course, uh Chevy Chase
helped to cement that reputation. I'd so, but yeah, I
think gerald Ford's record earns him a spot on the mountain.
And I've got another one. How about the least married president,
James Buchan. Yep, he's still the only president never to
have married. But he was a partier. Some have described

(19:18):
his time in office as one long party. Even on Sundays,
when he was taking his carriage ride to church, Buchanan
would have them stop at the local distillery to pick
up a ten gallon cask. Nice. All right. So that's
Tyler for having the most children, Forward for fewest votes
for someone who served as VP and president with zero,
and Buchanan for least married. I think we need one more,

(19:40):
really dumb one. What do you got? Oh, I've got one? Uh?
How about most brothers named Ike? Dwight Eisenhower, also known
as Ike, didn't exactly have a unique nickname, at least
within his own family. It turns out all six of
the Eisenhower brothers were nicknamed Ike at some point. I
guess they like Dike. But I like this group for
the possible mountain wall. So let's keep it in the mix.

(20:02):
All right, what's next? I've been thinking about one that
could be weird but fun. And that's a collection of
presidents tied to amusing writing. All right, so where are
you going with this one? Well, it's such a fun
way to get a better sense of the real personalities
the past presidents like. Take Nixon for example, he had
a reputation for being aloof even with his wife Pat
and their daughters. In fact, do you know how he

(20:22):
communicated with them much of the time through memos, And
not only that, he often signed them the president. Wow? Wow,
how warm and fuzzy. I still think one of my
favorite stories about Nixon was about how he asked his
future wife Pat to marry him on one of their
first dates, and when she said no, you know what
he did? What's up? He agreed to drive her around
out on dates with other guys for two years. That's

(20:46):
so bizarre. I guess that's as close as Nixon got
too romantic. Well, sticking with the romance theme and another
president's writings, it's nice to see how sweet Woodrow Wilson
was on his wife Woodrow Wilson. Really, Yeah, they're literally
thousands of letters Wilson wrote to his wife. We think
of Wilson as this somewhat stoic and often reserved guy.
But these love letters drip with passion and desire. I

(21:09):
do know that Wilson is connected with one of the
more embarrassing typos related to the president's activities. Oh the
Washington Post one. Yep. So, not long after Wilson's first wife,
Ellen passed away, he met Edith Bowling Galt, and the
two of them began spending more time together and went
out on a date to the theater. The Washington Post
reported on this date and intended to say that Wilson

(21:30):
was entertaining Miss Galt, but instead just said the president
spent most of his time entering miss calls. Wow, that
would be a pretty bold thing to do right there
in the middle of the What a silly typhoon. But
I think he earns a spot arm Mountain if we
decided to go with this theme. You know who was
not a romantic and his writing James K. Polk. He

(21:50):
was maybe the work a holly as president of all time.
So he worked these crazy hours and thought that public
servants really shouldn't be wasting time with any leisure act
at these he and his wife Sarah, they did in vacation.
They even stayed at the executive mansion throughout the summer.
Over his first four years in office, Polk was only
away from home for a total of six weeks. That's insane.

(22:13):
But back to the writing part. As O'Brien points out
in the Secrets of the US Presidents, Polk viewed handshaking
as a labor to be endured, and he once wrote
a lengthy essay in his diary that relegated the act
to an academic subject. He made a diary entry about this,
and here's part of it. All right, let me look
at this. It says if a man surrendered his arm
to be shaken by some horizontally, by others perpendicularly, and

(22:35):
by others again with a strong grip, he could not
fail to suffer severely from it, But that if he
would shake and not be shaken, grip and not be gripped,
taking care always to squeeze the hand of his adversary
as hard as he squeezed his, that he suffered no
inconvenience from it. What I was just about to say, what,
I know, what, it's crazy, So I'd say we're pretty
close to having a good collection. But I have one

(22:57):
more to add to this. And that's William Henry Harryson.
This is the same guy who had the shortest term
in office, and he also happened to have the longest
inaugural speech. Did he really? Yeah? And it didn't help
that it was crazy cold and windy that day. Harrison
refused to wear a coat or gloves for the speech,
and he started feeling ill the next day, and a
month later he was dead. So in other words, he

(23:17):
delivered about three minutes of speech for every day he's
been in office exactly. I mean that seems a little excessible. Well,
it did earn him consideration for our mountain side. So
if we go with this day, we've got Nixon for
his ridiculously impersonal communication with his family. We've got Wilson
for love letters but also the unfortunate type of describing
his date, James K. Polk for his weird diary entry,

(23:40):
and William Henry Harrison for his ridiculously long inaugural address.
I like it. I bet the tours would just come
from all over for this too. And while we're daydreaming
about all that cash money we're gonna make, let's take
a quick break for this quiz that main know this

(24:00):
is typically the part of the show where I would
ask you who we have on the line, But today
is a little bit different. With our theme being presidents,
we thought it would be fun to have a couple
of people from the office here at how stuff works,
because we've got some great leaders here. So who do
we have playing with us today? So we've got Tracy V.
Wilson from Stuff You Missed in History Class, The Incredible Podcast,
and she was president of her French club. Wow, president

(24:23):
of the French Club. Now, Tracy, are you still fluent
in French? I wasn't even fluent in French at that time,
and yet you were the president. So as it was
it a bitter battle to become president of the French Club. No,
I I was just better at French than some other people,
but as a general rule, none of us were actually

(24:43):
any good at it at all. Ringing endorsement. All right,
we'll welcome to part time genius. And we've also got
Cherry Larson online from marketing and she was president of
her sixth grade class, and most impressively, it turns out
she wasn't even running for the office. I was s
rise as anybody when they told me that I was
the president. So how were you elected? Then? Um? It

(25:06):
was right end vote. But there were people who wanted
to be president. Um, I think that they they chose
me because I was always the narrator of the school
plays and my head been all through elementary school, and
I think they just saw me as a figure of authority.
I didn't want this job, however. Yeah, well I have

(25:26):
to say it is uh, it's it's pretty incredible to
have this much power in one room. So so let's
get started, Mango, what are we playing today? This is
a game called shorter or taller than Abraham Lincoln in
a top hat? All right, I know you guys have
played this hundreds of times, I'm sure, but I'll go
ahead and explain very familiar. It's a pretty simple quiz.
We all know, Abe Lincoln was a tall president, six

(25:48):
ft four to be exact, and he was a foot
taller in his top hat, making him seven foot four.
So all you have to do is to tell us
whether each of these clues that we give you, or
each of these items that we give you, is short
or taller than Abraham Lincoln. You got it, yep? Alright,
so we'll go back and forth. I promise it will
be easy. Ohen mango. What are they playing for today?
As always, our contestants play for a chance to win

(26:10):
a handredden note from us to their mom or their boss,
singing their praises. Okay, so a big prize on the line.
Hope you guys are ready, So let's get started. We're
gonna start with you, Tracy. Question number one would be
Andre the Giant in a top hat. Was he shorter
or taller than Abraham Lincoln while wearing a top hat?

(26:31):
I think taller? Yeah, that's right. Andrea was built at
seven four without a top hat, and we'd be a
whopping eight ft four wearing one. Now, is there is
there any evidence of him having worn a top hat? Okay? Okay, alright,
so you're one for one. Let's go to you, Sherry.
Here we go. Question number two. A baby elephant shorter

(26:51):
or taller than Abraham Lincoln on a top hat? Newborn
baby elephant. I'm gonna say shorter if it's a newborn
baby elephant, that's correct. Yeah, a baby elephant starts out
and embarrassing three ft tall. We're tied at one. Okay,
next one, coming back to you, Tracy, Big birds shorter
or taller than Abraham Lincoln and the top hat. Oh

(27:14):
that's tough. I feel like big bird is right around
that seven foot line, so I'm gonna go taller. Yeah,
that's right. Big bird is taller. He is. He towers
over the president at eight foot two. Wow, taller than
I realized. Okay, alright, so you're underestimated the height of
big birds. Did yes? You did? Alright? Question number four

(27:37):
coming back to you, Sherry, George Washington's nose on Mount
rushmore shorter or taller than Abraham Lincoln and the top hat.
I'm gonna say taller. That's right. This is so close.
Washington's nose is approximately twenty ft tall, and it's about
a foot longer than all the other president's noses. Was
it that much longer? In realize? I don't know, not

(27:59):
a foot, but I mean maybe have to look into that, alright.
Question number five coming back to you, Tracy Alvin and
the Chipmunks stacked on top of one another according to
their original nineteen eighties cartoon heights. Oh my goodness, did
they have a trench coat on that would affect shorter?

(28:24):
They're actually taller. Simon is three five Alvin is three
ft and Theodore is two ft nine alright, so together
that would be nine ft two right. Yeah, I love that.
There's actually a recording of how tall each one of
them are to the inch, So okay, that opens the
door up for you here, Sherry. Okay, this is your

(28:45):
last question. You'll just need to get this one right
to win. And your clue is the first official White
House Christmas tree shorter or taller than Abraham Lincoln in
the top hat? Oh goodness, I'm gonna say shorter. I'm
gonna think that they weren't as ostentatious back then. That's

(29:06):
what I would have thought. But this was Calvin Coolidge's tree,
and they were very ostentatious, somewhere between thirty five and tall. Okay,
that's okay. You guys both did great two out of three,
which means they've both won. So what have they won? Mango? Well,
in addition to pony expressing their moms or bosses, a

(29:26):
handwritten note, will also be sending them the cheapest Richard
Nixon Spiro agnew political campaign button we could find on eBay,
and you'll be able to wear those around town with pride. Congratulations, guys,
and thanks so much for playing with us on Part
Time Genius. Thank you, thank thank you. Welcome back to

(29:56):
Part Time Genius. I think we've had some brilliant ideas
as to how to transformed the mountainside. We're considering buying
into a competitive amount rushmore, I mean, a really weird competitor.
We talked about presidents who had really strange health remedy beliefs,
presidents who believed in really weird things, record breaking presidents,
and presidents who wrote some really bizarre things. Clearly all

(30:18):
brilliant ideas, but let's rapid fire a few more. What
do you think, all right? How about presidents with the
weirdest pets. You've got Calvin Coolidge, you know, old vasiline
head who owned a raccoon when you'd sometimes see him
walking around on the White House with a leash. You've
got Thomas Jefferson's mocking bird who reportedly learned to take
food from his mouth. You've got Herbert Hoover, whose son

(30:39):
had not one, but two pet alligators that were allowed
to roam the White House. And maybe the strangest and
these weren't exactly pets, but I still think we should
count them. You have Andrew Johnson, who was such an
animal lover. He even tried to leave water and flower
out for the rats that invested the White House. It's
that weird. Oh if that's a good list. By the way, well,

(31:00):
rats certainly had a good run while Johnson was in
office that didn't last long. By the time Benjamin Harrison
was in office, he not only sent exterminators after them,
but he also had ferrets brought in to run the
White House and try to catch any rats they could find.
That good, Well, what if it was just the Mountain
side known as the Presidential rat Battle, just the Andrew
Johnson on the pro rat side and then Benjamin Harrison

(31:21):
on the anti rats. I like it. That's brilliant. Also,
I find it hard to talk about presidential pets without
mentioning Teddy Roosevelt's guinea pigs fighting Bob Evans and Father O'Grady,
and also his family snake Emily Spinach. Okay, I was
going to suggest a group of presidents who loved to sleep.
I mean, he gives us a chance to once again
mention old Vassilien head Calvin Coolidge. Not only did he

(31:44):
make sure to be in bed by ten every night,
and often he didn't get up until eight. But he
also took naps pretty much every single day. We're talking
two to four hour naps. I love to sleep. We'd
also then add Taft to dozed frequently, and Chester a
Arthur and his lethargy, which it turned out was the
result of an illness. But I decided this list wasn't

(32:05):
quite good enough, and maybe we should just dedicate the
mountainside to Millard Fillmore. So just Millard Fillmore, Just Millard Fillmore?
Have you lost your mind? Stay with me here? There's
actually this great story about Fillmore, who's really pretty much
not remembered for anything. In most rankings of presidents, he's
almost always near the bottom. But there happens to be

(32:25):
one really cool story about him that would resonate with
our listeners. He had Filmore loved books. The legend is
his father only owned three, a Bible and almanac and
a hymnal, and Filmore always wanted to have more. In fact,
he and his wife actually established the first permanent library
at the White House. But here's the story. On Christmas
Eve morning back in eighteen fifty one, the Library of

(32:47):
Congress caught fire. The fire teams rushed to this scene.
But do you know who jumped on one of those
horse drawn fire engines so that he could help fight
the fire? Millard Fillmore. And while tens of thousands of
books were destroyed, you know who rebuilt the library? Millard Fillmore. Wow,
I gotta hand it to you, Mango. That's a great story.
But I'm not sure if we should dedicate a whole
mountain to them, especially since if this is going to

(33:09):
go to only one person, it's probably gonna be Martin
Van Bieber's. But what do you say we give Millard
Fillmore the Part Time Genius Award today? I think that's
an ext one idea. And as for deciding what to
do with this mountain, I feel like we need to
help from our listeners. Listeners, if you have ideas on
what strange and very specific themes should be celebrated on
this mountaintop, please let us know. You can email us

(33:30):
at Part Time Genius at how stuff works dot com
or find us on Twitter or Facebook. We can't wait
to hear what you guys come up with. But while
we're waiting for those comments to pour in, what do
you say we kill some time with a part time
Genius fact Off. That's the part of the show where
we get to share some the most interesting facts we
learned in our research that we didn't use today. So

(33:56):
this one's particularly fascinating me because I don't love public speaking.
I think of Thomas Jefferson as the super eloquent president,
mostly because we all know his writing. But the truth
is he's only known to have delivered two speeches during
his presidency, his two inaugural addresses, and that's because he
suffered from severe stage fright. Isn't that nuts? It is crazy?
All right? Did you know Rutherford B. Hayes was the

(34:18):
only president to suffer an injury in the Civil War?
He had four horses. That's right, four horses shot down
under him. That's horrible. Maybe we should just dedicate our
monument to those four horses. I speaking of rough rides,
Teddy Roosevelt had one of the strangest breakfast routines of
any president. He liked to mix coffee and a dozen
eggs in a mug and then drink it down a

(34:39):
dozen eggs. That's so gross. Also, what's with you in
these Teddy Roosevelt? I'm obsessed. I mean, any president who
turns the Oval office into a dojo, but also talks
in his super high pitched voice. Is my kind of president?
Well here's one about Chester A. Arthur. While he sometimes
went by Chech, the public referred to him often as
Elegant Arthur, or Prince Arthur or the do would President,

(35:01):
all because of his fashion sense. The man owned over
eighty pairs of pants. Eighty pants? What do you do
with eighty pants? I don't know where I'm around. So
Andrew Jackson's parent had to be removed from his funeral
for swearing too much. Why was Andrew Jackson's parrot at
the funeral? Hall of pay respects? I guess I don't know,
but the minister who officiated was offended. He wrote, people

(35:21):
who were horrified and odd at the bird's lack of reverence.
You know who? George H. W. Bush briefly considered naming
his running mate Clint Eastwood. You know who was in
the wrestling Hall of Fame? Abe Lincoln Richard Nixon was
an incredible poker player and used his winnings to finance
his first political run. Warren Harding was actually the opposite
of that. He once lost Priceless White House China betting

(35:43):
it in a game. Bill Clinton's cat Socks almost had
his own Nintendo game. It was called Socks the Cat
Rocks the Hill. Why didn't that come out? It's so
good idea, I feel like so much. Just started Kickstarter. Um, okay,
you're gonna love this one. Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair.
Wait seriously, yeah, I mean if this stupid microphone would

(36:04):
detach from this big rip, I would totally drop a
mic right now. Yeah, and you would deserve it. All right. Well,
I'm going to feel a little more patriotic every time
I sit in a swivel chair from now on. And
I'm going to give you this episode's fact office. So
for all you genius is out there, don't forget to
email us your ideas for what to do with our
presidential mountaintop. Just drop us a line at part Time
Genius at how stuff Works dot com. And that's it
for today's episode of Part Time Genius. Thanks so much

(36:26):
for listening. Hey, well, did you know that James Poke
never got baptized as a baby because his dad on
the fight with the Minister mid ceremony. Thanks again for

(36:47):
listening to Part Time Genius. Be sure to subscribe wherever
you listen to your podcast, and because we're a brand
new show, if you're feeling extra generous, we'd love it
if you give us a rating on Apple Podcast. Part
Time Genius is produced by some of our favorite geniuses.
It's edited by Tristan McNeil, theme song and audio mixing
by Noel Brown. Our executive producer is Jerry Rowland. Our
research team is Gabe Loesier, Lucas Adams on a white

(37:08):
Field Metronto, Austin Thompson, and Meg Robbins. Jason Hook is
our chief cheerleader.

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