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7 Goofy Political Charts: Benjamin Netanyahu & More (Photos)

From Benjamin Netanyahu to Ronald Reagan, politicians who love a good illustration.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Twitter is atwitter over the low-quality bomb chart Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held up during his address at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday, meant to illustrate the necessity of drawing a “clear red line” on Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Unfortunately, the cheesy poster seems to have overshadowed his point, as he elicited more mockery than serious discussion.

Charts are hard to take seriously, even when they don’t look like they belong in an old Looney Tunes episode, yet politicians have been using them for years. The Daily Beast takes a look at other leaders who’ve attempted to make an argument through graphics.

Mitt Romney

Earlier this summer, Mitt Romney sent an email to fundraisers that included what he probably hoped would be a handy Venn diagram illustrating exactly how President Obama has failed to follow through on his promise to lower health-care premiums for the middle class. The problem wasn’t that Mitt’s chart didn’t make sense—it clearly stated in one circle the amount by which President Obama promised to lower health-insurance premiums, and in the other circle the amount by which annual insurance premiums have increased since he took office. However, instead of putting what the two circles have in common in the middle—the way a Venn diagram usually works—Mitt put the “gap” there: how much more the premiums cost than Obama said they would. Visually, it was super confusing and the media hardly went easy on him for it.


John Thune

Sen. John Thune from South Dakota took to the Senate floor in December 2009 with a big old chart juxtaposing the number of days until the benefits of the newly passed health-care-reform bill would go into effect (1,479) and the number of days until its associated tax increases went into effect (18). Fellow Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota took issue with the graphic, not for its unattractive design but for the fact that it failed to include any of the health-care benefits that would kick in immediately. “We are not entitled to our own facts,” Franken exclaimed on the Senate floor.

AP Photo

Ross Perot

Long before the dizzying national-debt clocks, there was Ross Perot and a bar graph. The Texas billionaire first introduced himself to the American public as a candidate for president in 1992 with a 30-minute infomercial that featured Perot using a “voodoo stick” to point to a variety of charts on the national debt, the budget, and his plans to fix the economy. Good, old-fashioned fun!

Everett Collection

Al Gore

Next to Ross Perot, no one loves a good chart more than Al Gore. The former vice president loves charts so much that he made a movie that almost entirely consisted of him standing in front of a series of charts detailing the effects of climate change. And it won multiple awards, including an Oscar!

David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images

Ronald Reagan

He may have been the Great Communicator, but sometimes images speak louder than words. Ronald Reagan schooled the nation on his federal tax-reduction legislation with an old-school chart that looks like it was drawn on Kraft paper.

Maya Alleruzzo, The Washington Times / Landov

Bill Clinton

As we were reminded at this year’s Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton loves any opportunity to improvise. Here, the former president is seen taking an American flag–decorated chart into his own hands and declaring that, by the end of 2010, the United States would no longer be in debt. Too bad the national debt didn’t follow the line of Clinton’s magic marker.