#5: Dan Quayle Picks a Fight With 'Murphy Brown'


Murphy Brown and Dan Quayle c. 1992 (They both look older now)

In 1992, then-Vice President Dan Quayle made the mistake of picking a fight with Candice Bergen's fictional character Murphy Brown. In the recent season finale, Murphy gave birth to a child after becoming pregnant by a man who did not want to be a part of the child's life. The plot twist was somewhat controversial, but leave it to the blundering VP to take it to the next level.

In a San Francisco speech about social decay and the family unit, Quayle made a connection between the Los Angeles Rodney King riots and Murphy Brown's glorification of single motherhood.

"It doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown -- a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman -- mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice,'" he said May 19, 1992.

That's when the show's writers took his speech, re-edited it, and came back with a season premier that pitted Quayle against Murphy by inserting him directly in the storyline in the middle of the 1992 presidential election season. The episode, You Say Potatoe, I Say Potato, called out Quayle for being intolerant of non-traditional families. The episode culminated in a prank where Murphy and other single mothers arranged for a truckload of potatoes to be dumped in front of Quayle's residence. In June of that year Quayle, while judging a spelling bee, had incorrectly informed an elementary school student that the correct spelling of potato was p-o-t-a-t-o-e.

The entire incident brought a discussion of family values to the 1992 election, which George H.W. Bush and Quayle eventually lost to Bill Clinton.

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