Hottest Heads of State

A scientific and unbiased ranking of world leaders in order of hotness.

Taft’s Top 5 SCOTUS Decisions

William Taft as Supreme Court justice

“I don’t remember that I ever was president.” This sounds like something that will be said by Donald Trump, someday, from the witness stand. But did you know that a president has already said it? Specifically, 27th president William Howard Taft.

Taft was alluding to what should be obvious: being president is a terrible job that is best forgotten as soon as possible. The stress of it ages you too quickly, and it makes you eat too many eggs. (As Taft knew, when you’re stressed, the best prescription is to eat a dozen eggs. Repeat as necessary and don’t worry about overdosing because no matter what the Breakfast Cereal Information Service says, you cannot overdose on eggs.)

What Taft really wanted to be was a Supreme Court justice. And in America, if you work hard enough, keep focused on your goal, and also you’re a former U.S. president, you can accomplish just about anything. Sure enough, eight years after his presidency, Taft was sworn in as the 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But was Taft able to match his success in the White House? Yes, pretty much!

Here are Taft’s top five opinions as Chief Justice, ranked in order of “great” to “even more great.”


5. Carroll v. United States, 1925

Should the police need a warrant to search your car? Taft was the first U.S. president to own a car, and usually the only thing hidden in his car was more Taft. So he was fine with saying no warrant is needed, so long as law enforcement has “probable cause.” In the particular case before the court, the probable cause was, “Three months ago this guy offered to sell me some whiskey, so he probably some whiskey with him right now, so I’m going to cut open his car seats and check.”

(And before you feel sympathy for “Carroll,” you should know that he was, in fact, secretly transporting whiskey. And if not for that warrantless search, he probably would have sold it once he got to Grand Rapids, and people there would have drank it. Score one for the good guys!)


4. Olmstead v. United States, 1928

Taft’s bold campaign against search warrants continued in 1928, with an opinion finding that recorded phone conversations can be used as evidence in court even if no one bothered to get a warrant before wiretapping the phone. It’s heartwarming to think about how many trees Taft saved from being chopped down, pulped, and turned into search warrants. But unfortunately, his opinion was overturned by the liberal Warren Court in 1967. (Liberals claim to care about the environment, but conveniently forget all about forest preservation when it comes to requiring search warrants.)


3. Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 1922

In this case, Taft ruled that taxing companies for using child labor was just a sneaky, underhanded attempt by Congress to keep companies from using child labor. You see, he knew from his days in the White House that if you turn your back on Congress for two seconds, it will start trying to regulate child labor. As they say, the price of cheap goods is eternal vigilance, against child labor laws.


2. Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, 1923

In a near-unanimous decision, the court ruled that Congress could not set a minimum wage for women because it would infringe on women’s right to agree to be paid less. In opposition to this view was feminist hero Taft, whose dissent argued that while it’s all well and good to say women should be allowed to negotiate for less pay, it’s not fair to give them this responsibility, because everyone knows ladies can’t negotiate as well as men. Only 58 more years of an all-male Supreme Court, women of 1923!


1. Balzac v. Porto Rico, 1922

Should the people of Puerto Rico, who are both U.S. citizens and human beings, enjoy Constitutional protections such as the right to a jury? No, obviously not. They live in Puerto Rico! Do you think the Framers were thinking about Puerto Rico when they wrote the 6th Amendment establishing the right to trial by jury in “in all criminal prosecutions”? Don’t make me laugh. In 1789, Puerto Rico was still part of the Spanish Empire. Obviously, they just meant for this to apply to the states, like Hawaii.


Author’s Note: Neither JD nor Kate is an attorney. But JD did take the LSAT about 20 years ago, and he did okay even though he showed up late. So you can pretty much take everything in this piece as rock solid legal advice.

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How Well Do You Know Jovenel Moïse?

Jovenel Moïse

You’ve been talking a big game about how much you know about Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, and I’m here to call you out. That’s right, I’m calling you out! It’s time to put your knowledge of Jovenel Moïse to the test by taking this test. So put on your best test-taking outfit and prepare to be publicly humiliated. (Though I’m not sure how you prepare for that, exactly. I’m sure you’ll figure something out!)

1. What was Jovenel Moïse’s occupation before he became president of Haiti?
He was a banana exporter and auto parts dealer.
CORRECT. OK, so you know ONE thing about Jovenel Moise. But do you know five or six things about him? Only time will tell!
He was an auto parts exporter and banana dealer.
INCORRECT. Why would someone export auto parts? You want to keep auto parts handy, so they’re close to your car.
He exported bananas to be used as auto parts. Like if you want your steering wheel to be made out of bananas.
INCORRECT. Except for the part about you wanting a steering wheel made out of bananas.
He was the founder of Microsoft.
INCORRECT. You might be confusing Jovenel Moïse with billionaire business magnate Bill Gates. Or you’re confusing Microsoft with a Haitian banana-export plantation. Either way, it is a common mistake!
2. How did Jovenel Moïse, having no political experience and little name recognition, become the leading candidate for the Haitian presidency?
He was handpicked by former president Michel Martelly.
CORRECT. But that was just a lucky guess, so I’m not impressed. I make lucky guesses ALL THE TIME. Like the time I guessed the password to your email account, and now I read all of your email even though it’s boring.
He was handpicked by a giant claw that came out of the sky.
INCORRECT. Actually, the giant claw chose hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, but the Haitian electorate wisely ignored it.
He was handpicked by the Haitian mafia, which in Haiti is just known as “the mafia.”
INCORRECT. I actually don’t know whether there is a Haitian Mafia, unless you’re talking about the Wyclef Jean song “Hatian Mafia.”
He woke up one day and said, “Now it’s time for politics!”
INCORRECT. If that worked, I would be president of Haiti by now!
3. During his campaign, what nickname did Jovenel Moïse adopt to make himself seem accessible and folksy?
“Banana Man”
CORRECT. Hey, how did you know that? Did you quickly read up on Jovenel Moïse before taking this test? You were supposed to be using that time to prepare for public humiliation!
“The Human Banana”
INCORRECT. This is actually YOUR nickname. Relatedly, I have some shocking news about the results of your DNA test!
“The Banana Whisperer”
INCORRECT. Jovenel Moïse wishes he was the Banana Whisperer. He can only shout at bananas.
“The Soul-Eater”
INCORRECT. But you’re right that this would be a great nickname for a politician.
4. What made Jovenel Moïse’s election controversial?
The first round of voting was marred by allegations of fraud, which led to widespread protests, rioting, and a year-long political crisis. Eventually the results were thrown out and Haiti held a new election, which Moïse won, but with record-low voter turnout.
CORRECT. But that was an easy one. I don’t even know why I’m including easy questions, when the whole point of this quiz is to embarrass you by revealing how little you know about Jovenel Moïse. I guess I’m just a complicated person.
Voters were encouraged to fill out one “real” ballot and one “just for fun” ballot.
INCORRECT. Even if this DID happen, I fail to see why it would be controversial.
Some people suspected that the ballot boxes had been stuffed, because they looked suspiciously full.
INCORRECT. Ballot boxes are always opaque so as to prevent speculation about whether they look overly full or whether they are holding an appropriate number of ballots.
Thousands of votes were lost at sea, and it wasn’t clear why the votes were taken on a scenic boat tour in the first place.
INCORRECT. All of the votes returned safely from their scenic boat tour.
5. Which former reality television villain did President Trump send to attend Jovenel Moïse’s inauguration?
Apprentice contestant Omarosa O. Manigault
CORRECT. You only knew this because you’re such a big Omarosa fan. That’s how I guessed your email password was “Omarosa4ever.”
Apprentice star Donald J. Trump
INCORRECT. Donald Trump avoids official travel that doesn’t involve the federal government writing a large check to one his resorts.
The Hills co-star Heidi Montag
INCORRECT. Sometimes you want so badly for something to be true that
you manage to convince yourself it IS true.
Juan Pablo Galavis from season 18 of The Bachelor .
INCORRECT. Juan Pablo isn’t a villain! He’s just a regular guy who is incapable of forming human attachments.
6. What has Jovenel Moïse accomplished so far as president?
He reestablished the Haitian army, even though Haiti has no real foreign threats, and even though the army was disbanded because of its history of human rights abuses and because it wouldn’t stop staging coups.
CORRECT. Be honest—are you cheating? Is Jovenel Moïse sitting next to you right now, whispering the answers in your ear after he looks them up on Wikipedia?
He fulfilled his campaign promise of restoring electricity to Haiti 24 hours a day but has requested that everyone just take his word for it and not try testing it out.
INCORRECT. To be fair, Moïse has only been in office for 7 months, and he clearly stated that it would take him 18 to 24 months to build a functional electric grid. So, check back with us for an update in 17 months. (Assuming America still has a functional electric grid in 17 months.)
He learned how to knit.
INCORRECT. When President Moïse learns to knit, you will know it. You’ll wake up one day and everyone in Haiti will be wearing a scarf.
He fulfilled his childhood dream of meeting former Indiana governor Mike Pence.
INCORRECT. Moïse did meet former Indiana governor Mike Pence, but his childhood dream was to meet former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.

Scoring:

0-2 Correct Answers
I knew it! You’re not an expert on Jovenel Moïse, and now everyone knows you’re a fraud. Or at least they will, as long as you promise to share these results across all of your social media platforms. (While you’re at it, maybe you could put in a plug for our forthcoming book!)

3-5 Correct Answers
OK, so you know 3 to 5 things about Jovenel Moïse. But that hardly makes you a Jovenel Moïse expert! For that, you will have to learn 1 to 3 more things.

6 Correct Answers
Huh. I guess you really are a Jovenel Moïse expert after all! Looks like I owe you a Coke. Or, wait—did we not bet a Coke? Then I will keep the Coke for myself.

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JD and Kate Visit the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

If you like Ulysses S. Grant, you will love our upcoming book, Hottest Heads of State: The American Presidents. You can just read the chapter on Ulysses S. Grant and throw the rest away!

The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Grantwood Village, MO
Adults: Free! | Children: Also free!

Kate: Our visit to the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site began by J.D. making me sit in the car and wait while he drank a huge cup of coffee.

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How to Celebrate Herbert Hoover’s Birthday

Herbert Hoover

Your long wait is over. It is finally, finally Herbert Hoover’s birthday.

What I love about Herbert Hoover’s birthday is that it’s the one day of the year when you get to really focus on Herbert Hoover, all day long, to the exclusion of everything else. Here are some ideas to help you plan a celebration that’s fun, rewarding, and full of memories that will help get you through the rest of the year. Which even now is looming, dark and inescapable, like an approaching sandstorm.

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A Fake Interview with Donald Trump

JD pretend to interview Donald Trump

President Donald Trump claims to hate The New York Times, which he calls “the failing New York Times,” yet he keeps giving them interviews. We, on the other hand, have not secured a single interview with him, even though he has never once called us “the failing Hottest Heads of State.” (Despite the fact that we are, by some measures, more of a failure than the New York Times.)

Fortunately, if there’s one thing I picked up at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (back when I regularly walked past it and imagined what was being taught inside) it’s that you’re allowed to make up interviews as long as you use real quotes.

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Justin Trudeau Fan Fiction, Ch. 2

Justin Trudeau on stairs

Chapter 2: In Which Justin Trudeau Makes an Indecent Proposal,
But Probably Not the Kind You’re Hoping For.

So far, your second day of work has been better than your first. You haven’t gotten trapped inside any falling elevators, and you haven’t had any embarrassing encounters with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Maybe being a member of Canadian parliament won’t be so bad after all! That is, as long as you can continue to avoid (1) elevators and (2) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (And also (3) the ghost that haunts Parliament Hill. But that’s a story for another day!)

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Memoir Quebecois, Part 2

Dinosaur exhibit at the Granby zoo

We live in a golden age of human achievement.

If you haven’t been reading JD’s travel diary, then you haven’t been missing out on much. Don’t believe me? Just check out Part 1!


Friday, July 7

Dear Diary,

We got the first pass version of our book on Thursday night, so I stayed inside all day on Friday working on the book and ignoring the kids’ requests that I 1) play ninja, 2) play pillowfight, or 3) play ninja pillowfight.

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Taft's Top 5 SCOTUS Decisions

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How Well Do You Know Jovenel Moïse?

JD and Kate Visit...

JD and Kate Visit the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site