Fact Check

Odd Questions Asked of snopes.com

A collection of unusual stories we've been queried about.

Published Jul 8, 2007


Among the hundreds of "Is this true?" queries we receive from readers every day, we usually find at least a few items that are obviously jokes or satirical articles. Rather than viewing this phenomenon, as some do, as yet another indicator of the imminent demise of critical thinking, we see it as part and parcel of what we do. Good satire, after all, has an air of believability to it — the satirist starts with reality and stretches it just a bit to spin a tale that will strike the reader as a ridiculous yet conceivable extension of current conditions. And jokes often have attributes in common with urban legends: they're narratives, they serve as expressions of social beliefs and customs, and they describe general, vaguely plausible events. So, if a joke is transformed into an urban legend by prefacing it with a "This is a true story" tag, it's not surprising that someone might venture to ask us if it really is a true story. (Indeed, our Jokes page includes articles we've written about dozens of the more prevalent jokes-cum-urban legends.)

Nonetheless, some queries leave us scratching our heads over just what readers are asking of us. They send us jokes, they seem to recognize that what they're sending us are jokes, yet they still ask us to validate something about what they're passing along. Under the conviction that perhaps greater minds than ours can fathom the secrets of some questions that have stumped us, we present below a variety of items that have been submitted to us for verification over the years:

I tried to find this on the site, but I couldn't. Would you know if this actually happened?

Shortly after President Bush took office, an old man approached the White House from the park across
Pennsylvania Ave where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Clinton."

The marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Clinton is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay," and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Clinton."

The marine again told the man, "Sir, Mr. Clinton is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Clinton."

The marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Clinton. I've told you already that Mr. Clinton is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted and said, "See you tomorrow, Sir!"



API - Clearwater Florida - Lorena Bobbitt's sister Luella was arrested yesterday for an alleged attempt to perform the same act on her husband as her famous sister had done several years ago. Sources reveal the sister was not as accurate as Lorena. She allegedly missed the target and stabbed her husband in the upper thigh causing severe muscle and tendon damage. The husband is reported to be in serious, but stable condition.

Luella has been charged with one count of a misdewiener.

Trying to determine authenticity of an email, if it's just internet humor or hoax. THANKS!!

Barbara Walters was doing a documentary on the customs of American Indians. While touring a reservation during the documentary she was puzzled as to why the difference in the number of feathers in the headdresses. So she asked a brave who only had one feather in his headdress, and his reply was: "Only have one woman: one woman, one feather."

Feeling the first fellow was only joking, she asked another brave. This brave had two feathers in his headdress. And he replied: "Me have two women: two women, two feathers."

Still not convinced the feathers indicated the number of sexual partners involved, she decided to interview the Chief. Now the Chief had a headdress full of feathers which, needless to say, amused Ms. Walters. She asked the Chief, "Why do you have so many feathers in your headdress?"

The Chief proudly pounded his chest and said: "Me Chief, me sleep with 'em all. "Big, small, fat and tall, me sleep with em all."

Horrified, Ms. Walters stated, "You ought to be hung."

The Chief said: "You damn right, me hung, big like buffalo, long like snake."

Ms. Walters cried, "You don't have to be so hostile."

The Chief replied: "Hoss-style, dog-style, wolf-style, any style, me sleep with em all."

With tears in her eyes, Ms. Walters cried, "Oh dear."

The Chief said: "No deer. Ass too high, run too fast."

I received this email is it true:

The French Leader got a coded message from Bush Administration.
It read: S370HSSV-0773H
The French were stumped and sent for the French Information Agency.
The FIA was stumped too, so it went to the Russians.
The Russians couldn't solve it either, so they asked the Germans.
The Germans, having received this same message during W.W.II from the Americans, suggested turning it upside down ...

I received the following email this morning regarding a new virus alert. I searched your site, but could find nothing on the topic. Can you tell me if there is any validity to the following? Thanks you.

Virus alert.

There is a new virus: code name is "work." If you receive "work," from your colleagues, your boss, via e-mail or any where else, do not touch "work" under any circumstances!! This virus wipes out your private life completely. If you should come into contact with this virus, put on your jacket and take two good friends and go straight to the nearest pub. Order three beers and after repeating 14 times, you will find that "work" has been completely deleted from your brain.

Forward this warning immediately to at least 5 friends. Should you realize that you do not have 5 friends, this means that you are already infected by this virus and "work" already controls your whole life. This virus is deadly. Please pay close attention to it and take heed.

Is this true?

At Heathrow Airport today, an individual, later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator. Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement.

He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction!

Ok, lately I've gotten about 3 or 4 e-mails from people claiming that the Titanic was carrying mayonnaise (some say 12,000 jars, others give no quantity). Once the Titanic reached New York, it's next supposed destination was Mexico. The e-mail always ends with a corny Sinko de Mayo

The only evidence I've found that this is a joke and not some coincidence embellished with a poor inter-lingual pun is that mayonnaise was supposedly just invented in 1912. Any help here?

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.

Here is another one that is suspect of being a hoax in my mind. Not on your list.

The United States Treasury has announced they are recalling the new Texas

"We are recalling all of the new Texas quarters that were recently issued," Treasury Undersecretary Russell Shackelford said in a press conference Monday. "This comes in the wake of numerous reports to this agency that the quarters will not work in parking meters, toll booths, vending machines, pay phones, or other coin-operated devices."

The winning design for the Texas quarter was submitted by Texas A&M student William Doutrieux.

"We believe the problem lies in a design flaw," said Shackelford. "Apparently, the duct tape holding the two dimes and nickel together keeps jamming the coin-operated devices."

Could you please look into this one? I know you done a lot of ULs on Bill Gates, but this one doesn't involve him giving away money. I heard this on the radio. It's a funny story, but did it happen?

Bill Gates' wife gave birth last year to a baby girl. The Gates's decided that any girl born to them would be named Adelle. When the girl was born, the doctor said "Dude, you're getting Adelle!"

Is this true?

For those of you who watch what you eat... Here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

3. The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Found the below on the web, however I can't find any record of the case on the OK Supreme Court sites. Funny story!

TULSA, OKLA -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled on a case that many legal experts believe clearly delineates the e-mail privacy rights of computer users in the workplace. Judge Stan Musing declared that employees have a right to expect that their employers will refrain from monitoring e-mail messages transmitted on company systems.

The case went to court after programmer Augustus Lindsey's supervisor monitored his e-mail and intercepted a message from Lindsey to a colleague. The message read: "That little sex kitten has been driving me wild. She's moaning and begging for it every minute. Last night I was afraid someone would hear, and we'd be thrown out of the building. But don't worry — all is arranged. Wednesday she gets the knife."

Lindsey's supervisor alerted authorities, suspecting that a crime was in the making. Lindsey was arrested on the spot and spent an uncomfortable night discussing the situation with the police.

However, he was released in the morning, just in time to get his female cat to the vet for spaying. Lindsey sued his boss for invasion of privacy and sought punitive damages as well.

Here's something I received by chain e-mail. Interesting, but sounds like bull. What do you think?

Thought for today...

There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2020, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections, but absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Wondering if this is true?

True story

Jesus was wandering around Jerusalem when He decided that He really needed a new robe. After looking around for a while, He saw a sign for Finkelstein, the Tailor. So, He went in and made the necessary arrangements to have Finkelstein prepare a new robe for Him. A few days later, when the robe was finished, Jesus tried it on and it was a perfect fit!

He asked how much He owed, but Finkelstein brushed him off: "No, no, no, for the Son of God? There's no charge! However, may I ask for a small favor?" Whenever you give a sermon, perhaps you could just mention that your nice new robe was made by Finkelstein, the Tailor."

Jesus readily agreed and as promised, extolled the virtues of His Finkelstein robe whenever He spoke to the masses.

A few months later, while Jesus was again walking through Jerusalem, He happened to walk past the Finkelstein shop and noted a huge line of people waiting for Finkelstein robes.

He pushed his way through the crowd to speak to him and as soon as Finkelstein spotted Him he said: "Jesus, Jesus, look what you've done for my business! Would you consider a partnership?"

"Certainly," replied Jesus. "Jesus & Finkelstein it is."

"Oh, no, no," said Finkelstein. "Finkelstein & Jesus." After all, I am the craftsman."

The two of them debated this for some time. Their discussion was long and spirited but ultimately fruitful, and they finally came up with a mutually acceptable compromise.

A few days later, the new sign went up over Finkelstein's shop.

Can you guess what it read?
Are you sure you want to know?
Here it comes...
Don't say you weren't warned......

I was once told in high school that, because of the Kraft commercials saying "America spells cheese K-R-A-F-T", many lesser educated people actually spell cheese "kraft." I know that this could be completely false, but I could not find any reference of it anywhere. What is your take?

I received this email today and could not find a reference to it on your website. It just smacks of a made up story. It just has too many disasters happening to one person and blaming it on Bush.

Please check it out.

Bush cost me my job, my kids and my houses

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind. I lost my job this past year. When Clinton was president I was secure and prosperous, but in the last year, we had to close our operations. We simply could not compete with foreign labor. This foreign labor worked for low pay under very bad conditions.

They worked very long shifts, and many even died on the job.

This competition could hardly be called "fair." I was forced out of the place where I had worked for 34 years.

Not a single government program was there to help me.

How can Bush call himself "compassionate?" Far worse, I lost two of my sons in Bush's evil war in Iraq. They gave their lives for their country, and for what? So that Bush's oil buddies can get rich. My pain of losing my sons is indescribable.

While it is trivial next to the loss of my sons, I regret to say that I also lost my home. I simply have nothing left. How can Bush call himself a Christian when he neglects people like me? I am a senior citizen with various medical problems. I'm not in a position where I can begin a new career. I was reduced to the point where I had to live in a hole in a ground, all because of President Bush.

And when the authorities found me there, did they have any compassion for my misfortune and ailments? No, I was arrested. Mr. Bush, I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a compassionate man! I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a Christian. If I had any money left, I would donate it to the Democrat Party.

If Al Gore had been elected in 2000 I would still have a job, a home, and most importantly, my dear sons!

Saddam Hussein

A friend of mine referred me to your site, because I was wondering if even the tiniest bit of the following excerpted "funny" is true. Was President Bush ever in a similar accident? Was he a substance abuser other than alcohol? I tend to dismiss most of these stories about public figures as rubbish.

Three Texas surgeons were playing golf together and discussing surgeries they had performed.

One of them said, "I'm the best surgeon in Texas. A concert pianist lost 7 fingers in an accident, I reattached them, and 8 months later he performed a private concert for the Queen of England."

One of the others said. "That's nothing. A young man lost both arms and legs in an accident, I reattached them, and 2 years later he won a gold medal in field events in the Olympics."

The third surgeon said, "You guys are amateurs. Several years ago a cowboy who was high on cocaine and alcohol rode a horse head-on into a train traveling 80 miles an hour. All I had left to work with was the horse's ass and a cowboy hat. Now he's president of the United States."

I have no source for this, it was just an anonymous internet posting. But I'm wondering if it has any basis in fact:

How Long Must This Go On?

Two Arabs boarded a flight out of London. One took a window seat and the other sat next to him in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, an American sat down in the aisle seat.

After takeoff, the American kicked his shoes off, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the Arab in the window seat said, "I need to get up and get a coke."

Don't get up," said the American, "I'm in the aisle seat; I'll get it for you."

As soon as he left, one of the Arabs picked up the American's shoe and spat in it. When he returned with the coke, the other Arab said, "That looks good, I'd really like one, too." Again, the American obligingly went to fetch it. While he was gone the other Arab picked up his other shoe and spat in it.

When the American returned, they all sat back and enjoyed the flight.

As the plane was landing, the American slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened.

"Why does it have to be this way?" he asked. "How long must this go on? This fighting between our nations? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and peeing in cokes?"

One more to check.


CNN said that after the war, there is a plan to divide Iraq into three parts: regular, premium and unleaded. (Jay Leno)

It has just been reported that specially trained circus midgets have flown several shorties against Iraq today.
(Johann von Haupkopf)

Gasoline prices have gotten so high that women who want to run over their cheating husbands have started car pooling. (Fairy3Quarters)

My wife wanted to go somewhere expensive for the weekend. So, I took her down the street to the local Texaco. (Jay Leno)

AT&T announced last week it will lay off up to 8,000 employees. Ever conscious of its image, the company is promoting the layoffs as a new feature called job forwarding. (Renee From Napa)

My brother says that slim jims, the devices that police officers and thieves commonly use to break into cars, are named this because robbers once used Slim Jims beef jerkey as a way to unlock vehicles. I think this is ridiculous. Can you settle this disagreement?

Please check out this story.

While trying to escape through Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden found a bottle and picked it up.

Suddenly, a female genie rose from the bottle and with a smile said "Master, may I grant you one wish?"

"You ignorant unworthy daughter-of-a-dog! Don't you know who I am? I don't need any common woman giving me anything," barked Bin Laden.

The shocked genie said "Please, I must grant you a wish or I will be returned to that bottle forever."

Osama thought a moment. Then grumbled about the impertinence of the woman, and said, "Very well. I want to awaken with three white women in my bed in the morning, so just do it and be off with you!"

The annoyed genie said, "So be it!" and disappeared.

The next morning Bin Laden woke up in bed with Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, and Hillary Clinton. His penis was gone, his knee was broken, and he had no health insurance.

This is touted as a true story but sounds a little fishy.

A photographer from a well-known national magazine was assigned to cover the recent Southern California fires. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the firefighters as they battled
the blazes.

When the photographer arrived, he realized that the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from ground-level.

So he requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved, and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport, where a single-engine plane would
be waiting for him.

He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, "Let's go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air.

The photographer said, "Fly over the park and make two or three low passes so I can take some pictures."

"Why?" asked the pilot.

"Because I am a photographer for a national magazine," he responded, "and I need some close-up shots."

The pilot was silent for a moment; finally he stammered, "So, you're telling me you're not the flight instructor?"

I got this sent as an email. Just wondering if this is true


There was this little boy about 12 years old walking down the sidewalk dragging a flattened frog on a string behind him. He came up to the doorstep of a house of ill repute and knocked on the door.

When the Madam answered it, she saw the little boy and asked what he wanted.

He said, "I want to have sex with one of the women inside. I have the money to buy it, and I'm not leaving until I get it."

The Madam figured, why not, so she told him to come in. Once in, she told him to pick any of the girls he liked.

He asked, "Do any of the girls have any diseases?" Of course the Madam said no. He said, "I heard all the men talking about having to get shots after making love with Amber. THAT'S the girl I want."

Since the little boy was so adamant and had the money to pay for it, the Madam told him to go to the first room on the right. He headed down the hall dragging the squashed frog behind him.

Ten minutes later he came back, still dragging the frog, paid the Madam, and headed out the door.

The Madam stopped him and asked, "Why did you pick the only girl in the place with a disease, instead of one of the others?"

He said, "Well, if you must know, tonight when I get home, my parents are going out to a restaurant to eat, leaving me at home with a baby-sitter. After they leave, my baby-sitter will have sex with me because she just happens to be very fond of cute little boys. She will then get the disease that I just caught. When Mom and Dad get back, Dad will take the baby-sitter home. On the way, he'll jump the baby-sitter's bones, and he'll catch the disease. Then when Dad gets home from the baby-sitter's, he and Mom will go to bed and have sex, and Mom will catch it. In the morning when Dad goes to work, the Milkman will deliver the milk, have a quickie with Mom and catch the disease, and HE'S the son-of-a-bitch who ran over my FROG."

Is this true?


A good looking biker stops by the Harley shop to have his bike fixed. They couldn't do it while he waited, so he said he didn't live far and would just walk home.

On the way home, he stopped at the hardware store and bought a bucket and an anvil. Next, he stopped by the feed store and picked up a couple of chickens and a goose. However, he now had a problem, how to carry all of his purchases home.

The owner said, "Put the anvil in the bucket, carry the bucket in one hand, put a chicken under each arm and carry the goose in your other hand."

"Hey, thanks!" the biker said, and out the door he went.

But in the parking lot, he was approached by a little old lady who told him she was lost. She asked, "Can you tell me how to get to 1603 Mockingbird Lane?"

The biker said, "Well, as a matter of fact, I live at 1616 Mockingbird Lane. Let's take my short cut and go down this alley. We'll be there in no time."

The little old lady looked him over cautiously, then said, "I am a lonely widow without a husband to defend me. How do I know that when we get in the alley you won't hold me against the wall, pull up my skirt, and ravish me?"

The biker said, "Holy smokes, Lady! I'm carrying a bucket, an anvil, two chickens, and a goose. How in the world could I possibly hold you up against the wall and do that?"

The lady said, "Set the goose down, cover him with the bucket, put the anvil on top of the bucket, and I'll hold the chickens."

I got this in an email. How true is this? Does this mean that we all have to avoid Pepsi now?

Pfizer Corp. (NYSE: PFE) is making the announcement today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola (Pepsi Bottling Group NYSE: PBG) as a power beverage suitable for use as-is, or as a mixer, under the name "Mount And Do".

Pepsi's proposed ad campaign suggests, "It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one."

Couldn't find this one on your site. True/false? I'm guessing false!

For centuries, Hindu women have worn a red spot on their foreheads. We have always naively thought that it had something to do with their religion. The true story has recently been revealed by the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

When one of these women gets married, she brings with her, a dowry. On her wedding night, the husband scratches off the red spot to see if he has won either a convenience store, a gas station, a donut shop or a motel in the United States.

Just thought you would like to know.

I received an e-mail about a Philadelphia Eagles player that noticed a white powdery substance after a practice. The FBI was called in, and determined that it was the goal line. Any truth to the rumor?

I received this email this evening and thought you'd be interested since it's supposed to be true.

Two old ladies were outside their nursing home, having a smoke with a good old Camel cigarette, when it started to rain.

One of the ladies pulled out a condom, cut off the end, put it over her cigarette, and continued to smoke her Camel.

Lady 1: What's that?

Lady 2: A condom. This way my cigarette doesn't get wet.

Lady 1: Where did you get it?

Lady 2: You can get them at any drugstore.

The next day, Lady 1 hobbles herself into the local drugstore and announces to the pharmacist that she wants a box of condoms.

The guy, obviously embarrassed, looks at her kind of strangely. She is, after all, over 80 years of age. But very delicately the pharmacist asks Lady 1 what brand she prefers.

The elderly Lady 1 replied "Doesn't matter son, as long as it fits a Camel".

It was reported that the pharmacist fainted.

.... this really happened in a small town in Louisiana ... so help me ....

This has been really bugging me - I'm certain it's not true. Following the death of the Queen Mother in the UK:

What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went un-noticed last week.

Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully aged 83. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in - and things just started to go downhill from there.

Please tell me if this is an Urban Legend or not. I have used the search page and cannot locate this:

The typewriter was invented by Hungarian immigrant Qwert Yuiop, who left his "signature" on the keyboard.

After receiving the following email, I've searched your website as well as the web to find the "Federal Air Transportation Airport Security Service" - this does not appear to be the official name for the new agency. I found the Transportation Security Administration website. I assume this is what they're referring to in the incorrect email. Thanks!

Almost 150 years ago, President Lincoln found it necessary to hire a private investigator - Alan Pinkerton - for protection. And that was the beginning of the Secret Service. Since that time, federal police authority has grown to a large number of multi-letter agencies - FBI, CIA, INS, IRS, DEA, BATF, etc. Now we have the "Federal Air Transportation Airport Security Service." Can't you see them now, these highly trained men and women in their black outfits with their initials in large white letters across their backs: "FATASS." .... I feel safer already.

I already searched your web site. Can you please tell me if the following item is true? Thanks.

I sat, as did millions of other Americans, and watched as our government underwent a peaceful transition of power in January 2001. At first, I felt a swell of pride and patriotism as I watched George W. Bush take
his oath of office. However, all that pride vanished as I watched William Jefferson Clinton board Air Force One for the final time. I saw 21 U.S. Marines in full dress, with rifles, fire a 21-gun salute to the outgoing President. It was then that I realized how far America's
military had deteriorated. Every last one of them missed.

Well, is this true or not??? HELP!

George W. Bush not only smiles and waves nicely, always knows the right thing to say, too!

Bush and the Queen at London Heathrow, a 300-foot long red carpet is stretched out to Air Force One and Mr. Bush strides to a warm but dignified handshake from Queen Elizabeth II.

They ride in a silver 1934 Bentley limousine to the edge of central London where they board an open 17th century coach hitched to six magnificent white matching horses.

As they ride toward Buckingham Palace, each looking sideways and waving to the thousands of cheering Britons lining the streets, all is going well.

But suddenly the right rear horse lets fly with the most horrendous, earth-rending, eye-smarting blast of gastronomic flatulence ever heard in the British Empire, including Bermuda, Tortola and other islands.

It shakes the coach.

Uncomfortable, but under control, the two dignitaries of state do their best to ignore the whole incident, but then the Queen decides that's ridiculous.

She turns to Mr. Bush and explains, "Mr. President, please accept myregrets. I'm sure you understand that there are some things that even a Queen cannot control."

George W. Bush, ever the gentleman, replies, "Your Majesty, please don't give the matter another thought. You know, if you hadn't said something, I would have thought it was one of the horses."

Last updated:   21 March 2005

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.