The Moron's Daily Briefing

Feb. 20 - I was out of town yesterday and therefore unable to provide the daily briefing for February 19. But it was on that date in 1807 that Aaron Burr became the first U.S. vice-president to be arrested and I can't pass that up.

Mr. Burr was also the first sitting vice-president to kill a man (previous vice presidents had only managed the trick standing up). But the events were unrelated.

A little backstory:

In 1800 Aaron Burr tied Thomas Jefferson in the presidential election. The House of Representatives broke the tie by throwing their weight behind Jefferson, making him president. Mr. Burr was given the vice-presidency as either a consolation prize or a practical joke.

Like many other people, Vice-President Burr was often irritated by Alexander Hamilton. Unlike most other people, he shot and killed him. Although it had been a fair duel, the vice-president was indicted for murder. He was never actually arrested for the shooting, nor was he removed from office, because there was no controlling legal authority in place to prevent a vice-president from shooting Alexander Hamilton.

A later constitutional amendment that would have made it illegal for members of the executive branch to shoot Alexander Hamilton was defeated on the grounds of its limited usefulness to the deceased.

After serving out his term as veep, Mr. Burr moved to the southwest and decided to establish his own empire. Fortunately there were controlling legal authorities that prohibited the establishment of empires. President Jefferson had him arrested on February 19, 1807.

Mr. Burr was ultimately acquitted.

February 19 is also notable for the 1995 marriage, on that date, of Pamela Anderson's marriage to rocker Tommy Lee. Their marriage is best remembered for having produced the most widely-distributed honeymoon pictures in the history of the world.

February 20 has much less going for it. It's just one many dates on which Francois-Marie Arouet may have been born in 1694.

Francois-Marie was a supremely intelligent, fiercely independent man and was therefore instructed to leave Paris.

Each time he was kicked out, however, he simply came back, said something witty, and was kicked out yet again.

Eventually the French invented reverse psychology. They invited Francois-Marie back from his latest exile and threw a big party for him. The shock of his reception killed him and Paris has mourned his loss ever since.

Except now they call him Voltaire.

Kurt Cobain would have been 36 today and Cindy Crawford is 37. Other birthday celebrants include Charles Barkley (1963), Patty Hearst (1954), Ivana Trump (1949), Sandy Duncan (1946), Bobby Unser (1934), Robert Altman (1925), Sidney Poitier (1924), Gloria Vanderbilt (1924), and Ansel Adams (1902).

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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