Even if you thought that the vice president's questionable remarks about his "awful lot" of Somali cab driving friends were a little off-kilter, Joe Biden's latest gaffe might still manage to surprise you.
On Tuesday, while delivering the oath of office to new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Vice President Biden waved over Carter's wife Stephanie beside the podium to whisper something in her ear as Carter addressed the media. The result was a supremely awkward photo that — let's face it — looks an awful lot like Biden whispering some not-so-sweet nothings into Carter's ear behind her husband's back:
It's not the first time this has happened. During the swearing-in of Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) earlier this year, Biden was videotaped whispering into Coons' daughter Maggie's ear, prompting Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to ask Maggie if Biden was "creepy."
The explanation in both circumstances, CNN reports, is a lot more tame than Biden attempting to pick up some Beltway bootie. The veep was merely attempting to reassure the two women during press conferences during which both looked supremely uncomfortable, and it doesn't appear that Biden actually made either of the women uncomfortable. In fact, in the full video, Mrs. Carter seems to smile and acknowledge Biden's comment with little reaction:
Biden does seem to be a uniquely gaffe-prone politician with a long history of over-the-top grasps at folksiness, self-deprecating humor and unintentionally insulting statements, perhaps most memorably captured in The Onion's satirical depiction of Biden as Diamond Joe, a rough-and-tumble huckster who washes his Trans Am shirtless in the White House driveway and steals copper wire for sale on the black market. This CNN compilation video captures some of the veep's more memorable screw-ups, like forgetting his running mate's last name or accidentally making up the death of someone's mother:
Still, it's doubtful that Biden would get caught whispering dirty limericks in someone's ear at a press conference. Dr. Jill Biden would be none too pleased — and everyone knows you pick up high-ranking Washington officials' spouses at the champagne reception, anyhow.