Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has never let facts stand in her way.
The Republican announced Wednesday morning that she is leaving Congress after four terms and a botched presidential run. Bachmann, 57, provided constant fodder for easily disprovable conspiracy theories in speeches and television interviews. She has notoriously claimed that President Obama has transformed "the Middle East into a devastating, evil, jihadist, earthquake," even though the beliefs with which she broadly paints an entire region of the world had been festering when the president was still editing The Harvard Law Review.
Bachmann often attacked the media, but the truth as shown by her seven outrageous statements below is that the congresswoman gave controversy-stirring sound bites that kept legions of fact checkers employed.
1. Vaccine Whopper
During a 2011 Republican presidential debate, Bachmann railed against Texas Gov. Rick Perry for mandating that young girls get the human papillomavirus (HPV vaccine). After the debate ended, she formed a fundraising effort around a story about a woman coming up to her after the debate, saying her daughter was given the vaccine and then suffered from mental retardation as a result. Experts immediately debunked her claim, saying the vaccine couldn’t possibly cause such effects.
2. Swine Flu “Coincidence”
In April 2009, Bachmann told MSNBC she found it an “interesting coincidence” that there have only been swine flu outbreaks under Democratic presidents. “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” Of course, a second’s worth of research shows that Republican Gerald Ford was president during the 70s swine flu crisis.
3. Praising Founding Fathers for Ending Slavery
While on the campaign trail during her brief presidential run, Bachmann played historian, telling an audience that “the very founders that wrote [the Constitution] worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Never mind that several of the founding fathers famously owned slaves, enshrining a compromise in which slaves counted as three-fifths of a human being when allocating congressional seats.
4. Filling Out a Census Form Will Land You in an Internment Camp 5. Obamacare “Will Literally Kill Children”
In 2009, Bachmann advised her constituents not to fill out Census Bureau forms because Obama could use the information to “to round them up, in violation of their constitutional rights” potentially throwing them in “internment camps.” Her remarks allude to the use of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, but there is no evidence that Obama has ever contemplated such a program.
Bachmann has been one of the most vocal opponents of Obama’s signature health insurance law, and her strategy has mostly included scaring her constituents with false claims about the new law. Just last week, as the House attempted to repeal the law for the 37th time, Bachmann said, “Let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.” No credible analysis has suggested that the expansion of health coverage will lead directly to the death of anyone.
5. Obamacare “Will Literally Kill Children”
6. Food Stamp Fibs
During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Bachmann told the audience that 70 percent of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, goes toward D.C. bureaucrats, a completely false claim. “That’s how the president’s caring works in practice,” she said. “So $3 in food stamps for the needy, $7 in salaries and pensions for the bureaucrats who are supposed to be taking care of the poor. So with all due respect, I ask you, how does this show that our president cares about the poor?” In reality, the Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP, spends one-third of one percent of SNAP’s budget on the salaries of the 166 people who administer it, while less than 6 percent of the $82 billion program is spent on administrative costs.
7. The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrating the U.S. Government
Last year, Bachmann called for an investigation into what she described as “deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood.” Bachmann said it appeared that individuals associated with the group “have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among others, chided Bachmann for the “unfounded and unwarranted” allegations.