Description: Viral image
Circulating since: May 2004
Email example contributed by Jules R., June 3, 2004:
This is a clothing label from a small American company that sells their product in France. Here's the translation of the French part of the label.
Wash with warm water.
Use mild soap.
Do not use bleach.
Do not dry in the dryer.
Do not iron.
We are sorry that Our President is an idiot.
We did not vote for him.
Analysis: True. The label appeared on tote bags and laptop cases manufactured in 2004 by Tom Bihn, an American company located in Port Angeles, Washington. According to the Tom Bihn website, the company prints its labels in French as well as English because the products are sold in both the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to basic laundering instructions, the labels also say, in French:
Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui.
Which, translated into English, means:
We are sorry that our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him.
"The 'secret' message began as an inside joke among seamstresses and staff at the Tom Bihn factory," the company's website explains, "and was apparently intended to poke fun at company's founder and president, Tom Bihn."
The key word is "apparently."
"I'm going with the idea that it's a joke about me," Bihn said in an interview with Associated Press. But, he added, "clearly when you use the word 'idiot' and 'president' in the same sentence people jump to other conclusions."
Especially when it's written in French.
2010 update: A new version of the email circulating since April 2010 implies that the insulting label refers to President Barack Obama.
Sources and further reading:
Shirts Sport French Insults to President
Associated Press, 23 February 2004
Bag Maker Finds Profits Bagging Bush
Reuters, 30 April 2004
Designer Rolls Out T-Shirts Sporting French Insults Against President
Associated Press, 23 April 2004
Tom Bihn - The Label and the T-Shirt
"This all began as an inside joke aimed (we think) at the president of our company, Tom Bihn. Many people have concluded the care label refers to other presidents - what can we say?"
Last updated 07/23/10