All right boys and girls, it's story time. So sit
back, perk up, and listen as I tell ya about the roughest, toughest,
rootinest tootinest son of a bitch who ever set foot in the western
hemisphere. A man so tough that he raised his own army and freed the
Cubans. A man so noble that he stood for conservation at the height of
the Industrial Revolution (ensuring that he would always have animals to
kill). A man so butch that, when his wife died, he didn't cry like a
pussy; he moved to the badlands and became a rancher/lawman. Oh, and
let's not forget that time he stabbed a cougar through the heart.
Soldier. Historian. Nobel Prize winner! Genius?! President of the
United States!?! This man was SEVERE. I know what you're thinking: who
the hell could I possibly be talking about? Surely no U.S. President has
ever had such raw, masculine energy. Jefferson? A bookworm sissy-boy.
Washington? An overrated prick. Lincoln? Oh, don't even get me started.
No, kids, I'm talking about the one man who embodied the idea of America
better than anyone ever has, or ever is likely to again. I'm talking
about the one man in modern history who became a legend in his own
lifetime. I'm talking about one of the only men who DESERVED to have his
face carved into a fucking mountain. I'm talking about the one man who
just might kick Julius Caesar's ass. Who am I talking about? Teddy.
I know what youíre saying to yourself, "Teddy Roosevelt? WTF? Wasnít
he like that guy with the moustache and the big stick? He couldnít be
that cool. Hell, he wasnít even as cool as Franklin Roosevelt. I mean,
dude, FDR was like a cripple, and stuff, and like, he beat up Hitler,
right?" To which the only thing I have to say is "SHUT THE HELL UP!"
because itís obvious that you donít know anything. Itís sad but true
that nowadays TR is all but forgotten when compared to his cousin
Franklin, and, yeah, FDR was certainly a stone cold badass, but he got
lucky, what with having the Great Depression and WWII to deal with.
But did Franklin Roosevelt go blind in one eye after a boxing match
in the White House? Hell no. Did Franklin Roosevelt get word that he was
about to become president of the United States while he was in the
middle of climbing a mountain? Of course not. Did Franklin Roosevelt
regularly swim naked in the Potomac River during the winter while
president just to stay tough? Youíre damn right no. Do you want to know
why (and, NO, it was not because he had polio)? It was because he wasnít
Teddy Roosevelt. In fact no one else in history has ever been Teddy
Roosevelt. Well, except for his dad. He was Teddy Roosevelt Senior, but
thatís not important, because even though he was a badass, he wasnít TR.
Yeah, thatís it, no one else in history has ever been TR, and thatís a
good thing too, because if everyone were TR, then no one would ever die.
Now youíre probably asking yourself, "What do you mean no one would die?
TR died. If everyone were TR theyíd still die too, right?" Well, no,
youíre wrong you see, because TR is not dead, but, well, never mind . .
. Alright, I think Iíve made my point, so letís get down to it.
Theodore "Moustaches are Manly" Roosevelt was born on October 27,
1858 in New York City to a family of means. In the beginning, he gave
little indication of the awesomeness yet to come. He was asthmatic and
sickly, and for most of his childhood, he had to sleep sitting up. At
the age of seven, however, young Teddy saw a dead seal in a local market
and thus committed his first awesome act: He acquired the seal's head,
learned taxidermy, and founded his own museum filled with animals which
he caught and stuffed. He completed this phase of his career at age nine
when he published his first scholarly article, "The Natural History of
But his father was not content that his son was merely a genius, he
knew Teddy had to be tough as nails as well, so he taught him to box and
made him do push-ups. This inspired Teddy, and he decided to murder all
his ailments with a little old-fashioned hard work (and lots of murder).
Thus, Teddy took up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback
riding. By the time he was eighteen, he was the toughest human being
Up until this time, Teddy was home schooled by private tutors,
because no primary or secondary school could possibly keep pace with
him. Now that he was a man, however, he knew he needed to go to college
and kick its ass if he was to ensure that his genius kept up with his
Well now, it's question time, boys and girls: What was the only
college that Teddy could possibly go to, the only one that could
challenge him enough to reach new heights of awesomeness? Why, Harvard,
of course, and if any of you Yale men disagree, itís only because youíre
pussies. At Harvard, Teddy did all the usual stuff: Whipped ass in his
classes, joined clubs, edited magazines, graduated with honors, and came
second place in a boxing tournament (it should be noted here, kids, that
his second place finish in no way represents a lack of awesomeness,
Teddy was merely demonstrating the superiority of good-sportsmanship,
kind of like Jesus).
I should stop for a minute here kids to tell you just how severely
awesome was Teddy's intellect. He had a photographic memory and devoured
books like they were candy-covered steaks. He always talked with the
smartest people, and he was capable of dictating to two secretaries at
the same time while reading a book or letter. It is said that Teddy
Roosevelt read over 10,000 books in his lifetime. In a list of the
smartest people who ever lived, Teddy ranks right up there with Isaac
Newton and Julius Caesar.
When Teddy graduated from Harvard, he decided to go to law school,
but upon finding in tremendously dull (like all self-respecting bad
asses), he decided to write his first book, a history book, "The Naval
War of 1812," still considered the best on the subject. Eventually, he
decided to drop out of law school and become a politician. He was
elected assemblyman for New York State in 1881. Teddy was active in
politics for several years, and a Republican to boot, giving him mad
street cred in those days.
Tragedy struck, however, on February 14, 1884 when both his wife and
mother died. His father had also died a few years earlier, when he was
in college, and he was very close to all three of them, so itís safe to
say he was pretty devastated. But this wasnít any ordinary person; this
was TR, and nothing could keep him down. So after an acceptable and
private grieving, Teddy did the only manly thing: He gave up politics
and moved to the Badlands to raise cattle. After learning how to rope
and ride, among other things, Teddy took to keeping the peace. One story
(among many others, I assure you) involved tracking three outlaws in a
stolen boat and bringing them back across country for trial.
After a brutal winter killed all his cows (but not Teddy: he loved
the cold. In fact, one of his favorite hobbies ĖĖ besides reading,
ranching, politicking, and boxing ó was naked winter river swimming) he
decided that while many a badass lived out in the Old West, he needed to
flex his intellectual muscle again, plus he needed a new wife. To this
end, he returned to New York, ran for governor for the hell of it, and
when he lost (only because his heart wasn't in it, of course), he went
to London and married his childhood sweetheart. He knew better than
anyone, though, that women like a man to play hard to get, so he decided
to climb Mount Blanc during their honeymoon, just to make sure she knew
how to live without him.
Returning to America, Ol' TR took to scholarly
pursuits for a while, writing historical pieces for magazines and also a
four-volume history of the Old West. By the end of the 1880s, he was
viewed as a major American thinker and had been elected president of the
American Historical Association. This would not be the last time that
"president" and "Teddy Roosevelt" would appear together; he was simply
too severely awesome to avoid it.
History scholars rarely make history, though (they merely catalogue
it), and Teddy knew that that was not for him. He boldly struck back
into public life, working on the United States Civil Service Commission
under Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland. In 1895, Roosevelt became
president of the New York Board of Police Commissioners (presidency
number two!). It's easy to see why he made the move: civil servants are
lame; cops are cool.
As in all things he did, Teddy revolutionized the way a police
department was run. He made officers pass a physical fitness test, he
installed telephones in the offices, he employed an expert marksman to
teach his officers how to shoot, and just for the hell of it, he used to
keep tabs on his officers by walking their late night/early morning
beats, making sure to keep them on their toes.
This was one of the most active periods in his always active life, so
Teddy left the New York Police Board almost as soon as he joined it
(after leaving everyone far more badass than they had already been, of
course) and immediately was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(1897). If you've been reading carefully, kids, you probably surmised
that TR was a big fan of the navy, and Hey! youíd be right. Days after
taking up his post, he was already pushing for a bigger, better navy. He
knew that the world was changing, and that a powerful navy would spell
the difference in American influence and power worldwide. He had just
enough time to explain this to the country, when America went to war
with Spain. This was Teddy's opportunity to test his mettle, so what did
he do? That's right: he resigned his cushy office job, joined the
fucking army and raised his own regiment of cowboys and former ivy
leaguers to go to Cuba and fight. Of course, just about everyone thought
he was fucking insane, and yeah, if it was anyone else, it would be a
sure sign of madness, but once again, this wasnít anybody; it was TR.
For him, it was absolutely natural to go to war because that was the
true test of a manís mettle. It was the only way he could really
demonstrate his awesomeness. Sure he had money. Sure he had a nice cushy
desk job and was set for life. Sure he was a nationally recognized
historian. Sure he had single-handedly revolutionized the idea of a
police department. Sure he had a beautiful wife and loving children.
Sure he had climbed a fuck ton of mountains. Sure he spoke three
languages. But it wasnít enough. He had to go to war.
Distinguishing himself and his troops at San Juan Hill, Teddy was
later awarded the Medal of Honor. At this point in history, however,
Spain was a really shitty country and the war ended quickly, but not
before Olí TR managed to kill him some Spaniards. It was one of his
crowning achievements, he felt, and he loved to talk about it. Ever
after, his favorite nickname was "The Colonel" which was his rank in the
war. Teddy returned home and, jumping right back into politics, ran
again for governor of New York and won this time (1898).
Let's step back for a second, boys and girls. In a period of just a
little over a year, what did the great Mr. Roosevelt accomplish? That's
right, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Navy, quit, raised
his own army, fought the Spanish, and came back in enough time to run
for governor of New York and win. I tell ya, I get a tear in my eye when
I think of how beautiful it must have been back then, knowing that you
had a gen-u-ine hero looking out for America.
Now, by this point, everyone in America knew how fucking tough,
fucking smart, and fucking awesome Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was, so it's
not surprising that William McKinley picked him to be his running mate
when he ran for president in 1900. They won (of course), but Teddy found
being vice-president unfulfilling (as well he should, we all know that
the vice presidency is most assuredly NOT a severely awesome position).
He was even considering leaving politics and going back to law school,
presumably to become a badass lawyer. History seems to have been
conscious of TR's greatness, and so she made certain that events
conspired to keep Teddy in politics. These events took form when
President McKinley was assassinated by a dirty anarchist. Of course when
news reached Teddy, he was in the middle of climbing a mountain. I mean,
a vice president has to find something to keep himself occupied, right
kids? (and TR sure did. It was also during his vice presidency that he
famously knife fought a cougar with nothing but a knife and balls.)
Thus, TR became president. It was a match made in heaven.
I know it's been awhile, kids, but are you still
with me? Yeah? Good, because this is the best part. Theodore Roosevelt
was now president of the United States. Never in the history of America
has another man as worthy occupied the White House. And what a White
House it was while Teddy lived there! He still lived by the same maxims
that made him tough as a child, and their incorporation into White House
life was truly severe. He took cabinet members on long hikes, regularly
boxed in the White House state rooms, romped with his kids all
throughout the place, and swam every winter morning naked in the
He also found time to be the best damn president we've ever had. He
busted trusts, campaigned for better conditions for workers, pushed
Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, founded our
National Park system, built the Panama Canal, worked to eradicate yellow
fever in Latin America and the Philippines, built the Great White Fleet
(a massive expansion of the Navy), mediated the Russo-Japanese War (for
which he won the Nobel Prize in 1906, the first American to do so),
arbitrated France and Germany over the division of Morocco, appointed
the first Jew to a presidential administration, and invited Booker T.
Washington to dinner (the first time a black man had dined in the White
House), among other things. during one of his many boxing matches in the
White House, he was blinded in one eye, once again proving that severe
awesomeness can have severe drawbacks.*
Now, I could go on and on with stories of President Roosevelt. I
could give you all the severe details until your eyes bled out onto your
chest and your fingernails were twelve feet long, but I wonít. No kids,
Iím just gonna tell you one story, one story which will encapsulate all
of the greatness of the TR presidency, and that story is the story of
the Panama Canal.
For years, people had been talking about building a canal through
Central America. There were plenty of good reasons to do it, mainly
having to do with moving ships from one ocean to another without having
to go all the fucking way around South America, but no one had done it
yet. Well, TR decided that it was the most important thing in the world
to do, and he made it his mission to have a canal built. It was decided
that the best place for the canal was right the fuck through Panama.
There was just one problem: At this point in history, Columbia was in
control of the tiny little Isthmus of Panama, and they were greedy sons
of bitches who wanted more money than Olí TR was willing to offer. Now,
tell me kids, what do you think Teddy Fucking Roosevelt did then? Do you
think he paid them their exorbitant demands? Do you think he decided to
build the canal somewhere else? Do you think he cried like a pussy?
Well, if you think any of those things, youíre an idiot. No, TR did the
only thing he could do: he convinced the Panamanians that Columbia was
full of a bunch of crack smoking troglodytes that had no right to rule
over them, and you know what they did then? Thatís right: they STARTED A
REVOLUTION AND DECLARED THEIR INDEPENDENCE. Then TR was able to get that
canal built. Yep, we can all learn a lesson from Teddy Roosevelt. When
people donít want to accept your proposal, just convince some other guys
to start a fucking revolution. What could go wrong? I think itís pretty
obvious at this point that TR was the greatest president ever, and it
was a sad day when he left the White House but thatís the nature of
American democracy, and TR was nothing if not honorable. Besides, he had
lots of other badass things to do. . .
In 1910, just after finishing up is second term as president, Teddy
went out on an African expedition. Not just any expedition was this,
however. This trip was sponsored by the National Geographic Society and
the Smithsonian and was dedicated to conservation. Teddy knew better
than anyone about the importance of conservation, so he and his party
killed or trapped over 11,397 animals. No, I am not making that number
up. In fact, 262 of the animals were eaten during the expedition,
presumably because Teddy had skipped breakfast that day.
Of course, murdering animals wasn't the extent of Teddy's activities
after leaving office. In fact, he even ran again. Naturally, he had to
create his own party in the process since the Republicans just could not
compete with TR's severity. The main reason that he formed the party was
because of President Taft, whom TR had personally picked to run after
him. Basically, Taft, while cool, just wasnít nearly as awesome as
Teddy, and he ended up making just about everyone hate him. Teddy ran
against him for the Republican ticket, but he lost, because most of the
other Republicans were a bunch of pooh-pooh heads who never really
understood what kind of mensch TR was. To stay in the running, he
created a new party, the Bull Moose Party, and set to campaigning across
To his severe credit, Teddy managed to come in second in the
presidential election of 1912, losing to Woodrow Wilson, a badass in his
own right. Now, the irony of the Severe-Awesomite, boys and girls, is
that he is simply so badass that the universe has to compensate by
causing bad things to happen to him in order to prevent the collapse of
the entire universe into a singularity (it's all fairly technical, so
I'll spare ya the details, kiddies). Teddy Roosevelt was almost badass
enough to overcome this handicap, but it did manifest itself
occasionally, like when he was blinded in a boxing match, or on this
occasion, when his creation of the Bull Moosers caused long-term damage
to the Republican Party that he loved.
Teddy wouldn't let a silly little thing like losing an election keep
him down though, and before you could say "Speak softly and carry a big
stick," He was off on another expedition, this time to South America. It
would prove to be his severe downfall.
On December 9, 1913, Teddy and an expedition set off into the jungles
of South America, at the height of the rainy season. Before long, Teddy
caught malaria and got an infection from a leg wound. As the terrible,
terrible South American jungle weighed itself on every member of the
party, and Teddy inched closer to death, only the leadership of his son
Kermit, and the dedicated work of the physician Josť Antonio Cajazeira
kept TR alive and the expedition going. Donít get the wrong idea,
though, kiddies, the expedition was not a total failure. In fact, it was
record breaking. TR and his party had explored farther down the Rio da
Duvida (River of Doubt) than anyone had ever gone, ever. In fact, it was
later renamed the Rio Roosevelt in his honor. Still, though, the
expedition was taxing; Teddy had almost died, letís remember. When he
finally got back to America, TR gradually recovered, but he was never
the same. He had constant flare-ups of malaria, and he was never the
energetic, great man he once was.
But fuck all that, Ol' TR was no pussy, and he wouldn't let a little
thing like malaria keep him down, so he did the only thing a great man
prevented by infirmity from performing great acts can do: he wrote
books, lots of books, including his "Autobiography", Rough Riders
and histories of the Naval Academy, ranching and wildlife.
He tried to stay active in politics, too, though his time had passed.
He was heavily in favor of the U.S. going to war against Germany in WWI,
and when American finally declared war in 1917, he even tried to
reenlist in the Army so he could go to war one last time, but Wilson
wouldnít allow it. TR was just too much of a loose canon, and he was too
In the end, his tropical expedition did him in. On January 6, 1919,
six years after his South American trip, Teddy died of a coronary
embolism. Of course, everyone dies eventually, and we can't let a little
thing like death detract from Theodore Roosevelt's true severity. Hell,
even though the story's done, there's still more to tell, like the time
Teddy was shot, but survived because of a speech he had in his pocket,
or the time he created the teddy bear (well, okay, he didn't create the
teddy bear, but it was a direct result of his severe awesomeness that
the stuffed animal was so named!) In the end, Teddy Roosevelt was just
about the greatest human being who has ever lived, except for maybe
Did you stick around, kids? Good, because now that
all the proles have gone, I can tell you a little secret: Theodore
Roosevelt is not dead. In fact, he can never die, because he is the
manifestation of everything that has ever been or will ever be great and
good and true in the cosmos. He is gone from this world, however. It
just simply wasnít awesome enough to contain him. Maybe youíll find him
one day, if your heart is pure and your balls are ten feet across.
Let it be known that being blind in one eye never
even slowed Teddy down; he just traded boxing for Jujitsu. That's right,
Teddy Roosevelt knew Jujitsu.