Hottest Heads of State

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

We Felt This Was Necessary

George Washington-Scented Candle diorama close-up

Nothing goes together better than open flame and tinder-dry felt. And that’s why we’ve made adorable felt dioramas for our candles. (Well, that, and we couldn’t agree on how to display them in our home. JD wanted to put them on the mantle to try and sell them to our friends. Kate wanted to hide them in the basement along with the rest of our shameful secrets, and this was our compromise.)

Given that the holiday shopping season is upon us, you might be interested to know that all of these candles are available for sale in our Etsy and Amazon stores. The dioramas are not for sale, except in the sense that everything in this world is for sale, for the right price.


Theodore Roosevelt-Scented Candle

The Theodore Roosevelt-Scented Candle

If you’re in the woods and you bump into Teddy Roosevelt, the good news is he’s probably hunting and are there no bears, wolves, or other dangerous predators left nearby. The bad news is that he’s running out of things to hunt that aren’t you.

Etsy | Amazon


Pirate-Scented Candle

The Pirate-Scented Candle

This is our worst-selling candle. What is wrong with the world that people prefer slick Beltway politicians like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln to hardworking pirates who are just trying to earn an honest doubloon?

Etsy | Amazon


Boxed Wine-Scented Candle

The Boxed Wine-Scented Candle

We are not making fun of boxed wine. We are making fun of people who make fun of boxed wine. Boxed wine is superior to bottled wine in every respect except, perhaps, flavor. And let’s face it: If you were picking your beverage based primarily on flavor, you’d be having hot chocolate.

Etsy | Amazon


George Washington-Scented Candle

The George Washington-Scented Candle

We love the cherry tree story because it’s all about the importance of not lying, even though it itself is a lie. So the real lesson is that it’s totally fine to lie.

Etsy | Amazon


Justin Trudeau-Scented Candle

The Justin Trudeau-Scented Candle

A lot of Americans assume that the Canadian National Igloo where Parliament meets is a big, palatial igloo with hundreds of rooms, corridors and chambers. But nope. Canadians are not showy and it’s just a humble igloo.

Etsy | Amazon


Joe Biden-Scented Candle

The Joe Biden-Scented Candle

Having this diorama on our wall is the next best thing to actually riding a train to Delaware.

Etsy | Amazon


Lincoln-Scented Candle

The Lincoln-Scented Candle

At some point we might add a tiny felt Richard Nixon, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 4am trying to chat up college students. And after that we’ll have to add a tiny felt Mark Felt, therein fulfilling our destiny.

Etsy | Amazon


Putin-Scented Candle

The Putin-Scented Candle

Fun, true-life fact: That thing in the background is not actually the Kremlin! It’s just a few pieces of felt glued together.

Etsy | Amazon


Trump-Scented Candle

The Trump-Scented Candle

Homeland! You’ve been the first to light a star of progress and peace over the Earth. Glory to science, glory to labor! Glory to the Trump regime!

Etsy | Amazon


Impeachment-Scented Candle

The Impeachment-Scented Candle

We actually think impeachment proceedings against President Trump would create a highly volatile situation, since the Breitbarts of the world would call it a coup d’etat. But it would be justified, appropriate, and less dangerous than letting someone like Trump retain control of the nuclear launch codes

Etsy | Amazon


Defective Candle

The Defective Candle

The lasers, camera, and so forth are what’s known as “security theater.” They might make you feel safe. But if Defective Candle wants to get out, it’s going to get out.

Etsy

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JD and Kate Visit the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair

We hope you enjoy this special Halloween edition of our presidential museum reviews. If you’d like to learn more misinformation about John Tyler, we humbly recommend this.

John Tyler museum entrance

The walkway to the museum entrance has a warning sign urging visitors to make sure they’re back over dry land by dark.

The John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair

Great Dismal Swamp, VA
Adults: $10 | Children under 12: $5

Kate: To reach the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair, you have to drive 60 miles off the main highway into the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge that straddles the Virginia/North Carolina border.

JD: I like that they call it a swamp instead of a “forested wetland.” It is a swamp. You can smell it for a mile before you get there. If you had to pick one word to describe it, it would be “slimy.”

Kate: If I had to pick one word, it would be “swampy.”

JD: And, appropriately, it’s the home of the only swamp monster to serve as U.S. president: John Tyler.

Kate: Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under twelve. I thought that was a little pricey. But maybe it just bothered me because there wasn’t a cash register or anything—the woman selling tickets just dropped our money and let it sink down into the murky water.

JD: We were standing in like a foot of swamp water at that point.

Kate: I asked, “What about our change?” because she owed us $10 in change, but she just kept staring vacantly at the cave wall behind me.

JD: All of the museum employees looked like they hadn’t seen the sun in a long time. Which makes sense because the whole museum is underground. They call it a “swamp lair” but that’s just a fancy way of saying that it’s a really wet cave.

Kate: Did you know that they earned a LEED Platinum rating by using bioluminescent fungi for lighting? There was a placard about it in the restroom.

JD: I was too afraid to go to the restroom.

Canoes in the Great Dismal Swamp

We chatted with these folks on our way into the museum. Apparently, they were looking for loved ones who’d entered and were never seen again. We promised to keep an eye open while we were in there. But in truth we were too focused on learning about the Tyler presidency to go on some search and rescue mission (which is really the Park Service’s job).


The Museum

JD: More than most presidential libraries we’ve visited, the Tyler museum seemed like an extended apologia.

Kate: Tyler was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency because his predecessor died in office. And Tyler’s term was pretty unsuccessful. He was a Whig, but it quickly became clear that he disagreed with most of the Whig party’s platform. Having alienated both parties and lacking a mandate from voters, people started calling him “His Accidency.”

JD: Which was meant to be a dig, but it’s better than “His Swamp Monstrosity.”

Kate: Later he became the only former U.S. president to side with the Confederacy. He’s near the bottom on most historians’ presidential rankings.

JD: It felt like the museum was trying to distract from this by overemphasizing his handful of foreign policy successes.

Kate: They also kept bringing up how he is the only U.S. president to not have any bones.

JD: I thought that was a little braggy. What’s so great about not having bones? I like having bones.

Kate: I will say that I enjoyed the exhibit on the history of swamp monsters in America. Did you know that the first swamp monsters came over on the Mayflower, stuck to the hull like barnacles?

JD: I was more interested in the exhibit on the future of swamp monsters in America, which was surprisingly candid about their plans to re-establish dominance over what they refer to as “land monsters.”

Kate: Wait, is that us? Are we the land monsters? I thought they were talking about opossums. And I was like, “Yeah, I hate opossums, too.”

JD: Of course they had a replica Oval Office, which is de rigeur for any presidential museum. Although I liked the added touch that it was chest-deep in swampwater, with reeds and mold growing up the walls, just like the real Oval Office between the years 1840 and 1884.

Kate: See, I totally missed that room. The museum layout is really confusing, with dozens of passageways branching off in every direction. It’s almost like they want you to get lost inside their subterranean labyrinth.

John Tyler museum

Here is Kate as we began our descent to the lower levels of the museum. We really took these stairs for granted, because we didn’t realize that instead of steps, most of the lair has dark, muddy chutes that you slide down and hope for the best.


The Cafe

JD: We decided not to visit the cafe.

Kate: The entrance to the cafe at the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair is a hole in the floor of the cave, with a waterlogged rope descending into the darkness. It was a little weird.

JD: Also, there were sounds coming from the hole: thick, viscous splashing, and a sound like wooden branches breaking. When I asked a museum docent what was making the sounds, he laughed awkwardly and said, “Well, it’s definitely not bones being snapped like dry matchsticks.”

Kate: So we chose not to climb down.

JD: Even though the docent told us that if we climbed down to the “dining area,” we could meet John Tyler in person!


The Gift Shop

JD: For the most part, the gift shop felt more like a lost-and-found. There were a bunch of soggy cardboard boxes filled with a humble offering of used cell phones, wallets, and keyrings, and a handwritten sign saying “make usssss an offer.”

Kate: They did have a few Tyler-themed gifts—some “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” bumper stickers, and Christmas Tree ornaments made to look like Spanish moss.

JD: They also had “Don’t Drain the Swamp” t-shirts and hoodies, but this feels misguided because considering his warm feelings for the Confederacy, Tyler is probably a Trump guy.

Kate: JD wanted to buy a locket with a swatch of Tyler’s skin but I wouldn’t let him.

JD: President Tyler sheds his skin every year or so, and the museum staff collects his sheddings and sells them in the gift shop, encased in overpriced pewter lockets. It’s a pretty unique keepsake, although I have no idea how you’d authenticate it. That could be the skin of any swamp monster. In fact, it’s kind of weird that Tyler would still be shedding his skin at age 227. Because that would mean he’s still growing larger.

Kate: I didn’t buy anything in the gift shop, but I do have a souvenir of our visit, because one of the docents passed me a note written in mud on that said “HELP ME PLEASE.”

John Tyler museum

We asked how these tunnels had been created, and the museum docent said “Oh, President Tyler clawed these out himself.’ Which would be a lot more impressive if this weren’t the 21st century, and we had machines that could dig tunnels for us.


Should I Bring My Kids?

Kate: Whether or not to bring your kids really depends on how tall they are, whether they can swim, and whether they’re afraid of the dark. Some parts of the museum are submerged in dank, dark water that comes up waist-high on an adult, so kids might only have their heads poking above water.

JD: I had to carry our four-year-old son through most of the museum, which was exhausting. Plus our daughter kept complaining that she felt something slimy drifting against her legs.

Kate: I actually thought I felt something swim against me, too, but the water was too dark to see what it was.

JD: The museum does have a “Swamp Kidz” section” but our six-year-old and four-year-old didn’t like it.

Kate: The “Dress up like President Tyler!” corner was just a moldy wooden bucket filled with greenish gelatinous mucus. Neither kid wanted to slather any of it on.

JD: I will say that our kids were intrigued by the claw marks. Throughout the museum, President Tyler has left claw marks on the walls. Some are ten or twelve feet up, but others are close enough to the ground that you can hold your own hand up to them and compare sizes.

Kate: Our kids loved doing this. Honestly, I did too. Tyler’s hands are huge, and some of the claw marks he’s gouged out of the bedrock are an inch deep. It’s just too bad he couldn’t have used some of that otherworldly reptilian strength to settle the Oregon boundary dispute!


What Would You Change?

Kate: It’s not like we dressed up in our best outfits to visit the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair. But still, by the time we got back to our car, all of our clothes were caked in mud and duckweed. I think the Park Service should provide rubber waders before you enter the lair. Even if you had to rent them, it would be worth it.

JD: Waders would also help keep off the leeches. All four of us came out of the lair covered in leeches but didn’t realize it until we got back to the hotel and showered.

Kate: If you’re not sure whether you’re afraid of leeches, visiting the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair is a good way to find out.


Final Thoughts

John Tyler museum

Our last shot as we exited the museum. Unfortunately, we had lost our dog Butterscotch at this point, and we never saw him again. But in the museum’s defense, they did warn us that President Tyler loves to eat dogs.

JD: John Tyler is definitely not one of my favorite U.S. presidents, and nothing about this experience improved my opinion of him. You can’t visit the museum without coming away impressed by his size, strength, longevity, and insatiable hunger. But that doesn’t change the fact that he broke his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Kate: I felt like they made too big of a deal out of having the actual egg he’d hatched from in 1790. It just looked like a really big eggshell. There was nothing especially presidential about it.

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Hottest Heads of State Through History: French Monarchs

Louis XIV young

It’s a young Louis XIV! You would recognize those pouty lips anywhere.

France and America have had a special friendship ever since France bankrupted itself helping America win the Revolutionary War, triggering a violent and tumultuous upheaval in which millions perished. Now let’s celebrate the centuries of mutual affection between our two countries by ogling some hot French monarchs! (Or, as we like to call them, “Freedom monarchs.”)

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The Presidents of the United States: In Order of Best Eyebrows

Richard Nixon's right eyebrow

You might not know this about me, but the main thing I look for in a man is a nice pair of eyebrows. If a guy with mediocre eyebrows approaches me, I tell him, “Sorry, not interested.” Then when he says, “Um, I was just wondering if you could give me directions to the metro?” I say “No way.”

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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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We Felt This Was Necessary

Halloween

World Leaders Share Their Real-Life Horror Stories, 2017

JD and Kate Visit...

JD and Kate Visit the John Tyler Presidential Museum and Swamp Lair