Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes out this Friday, and we hope it will honor both Lincoln's tough moral character as well as his lesser-known affinity for waging war on the undead. But Lincoln is far from the only president who kicked America's butt into shape through tough love and unflinching conviction. That's why we've rounded up the five most badass presidents of all time: from swearing parrots to bulletproof skin, you'd be wise not to start any beef with these Commanders-in-Chief.
5. George Washington:
Our first president was necessarily among the most badass because founding America was a pretty bloody business. But Washington took it to the next level: he was always on the frontlines of battle and constantly returned with bulletholes in his clothes or his horse shot from underneath him. Dude could not be killed! Washington himself was bemused at his own invincibility and once wrote to his brother, "I heard the bullets whistle and believe me, there is something charming to the sound of bullets." Anything you say, you bulletproof maniac!
4. Thomas Jefferson:
Jefferson was so assured of his own awesomeness that he thought he could write a better Bible than God—and he was completely right. That was just the way he rolled: if an institution, document, or nation wasn't up to his standards, he'd say, "peace out, I'm making my own." That's why we have Virginia College, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States of America. Jefferson reached new levels of dynamism during his presidency, in which he won a war against some crazy African pirates and said his famous line of ultimate badassery: "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." You'd be wise not to mess with T-Jeffs.
3. Barack Obama:
Whether or not you are a fan of our current President, his high levels of badassery are beyond question. We're talking about a man who is equally comfortable bursting into Al Green ballads as he is busting into Pakistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden. A man who has a hell of a jump shot out on the basketball court and who reacts to a deaf supporter, who signed "I am proud of you," by signing back "Thank you" like it ain't no big thing. The kicker of them all is this moment, when Obama ninja attacks a passing fly out of the air in the middle of an interview, like some kind of epic Jedi knight. Pretty impressive indeed, Mr. President.
2. Andrew Jackson:
You know you're tough when people just up and start calling you "Old Hickory." Jackson wasn't always a badass in the right ways—cough, Indian Removal Act, cough—but there's no denying he didn't give a horse's butt what people thought of him. While a POW of the Revolutionary War, he was asked to clean the boots of a British officer, told the officer to screw off, and received crazy facial scars he would bear for the rest of his life. Whatever: he was all, "you want another piece of this?!" to the British in the War of 1812, and roundhouse kicked them in a Han-Solo-style "never tell me the odds" battle. Jackson also participated in 103 duels in his life, and was said to "rattle like a bag of marbles" because he had a bunch of bullets in him. Oh yeah, and his pet parrot had to be removed from his funeral because it was swearing too much, just like its old man.
1. Theodore Roosevelt:
Most historians agree Teddy Roosevelt was probably a bear disguised as a man. During his life he found work as a cowboy, an explorer, a Rough Rider, a war hero, a cop, a Marine, and a boxer. Being president was actually Roosevelt's least manly job, though it helped that he kept a bear and a lion as White House pets. His love for exploration never waned, and in his later life, he led an armada of ships around the world, went on African safaris, and even discovered a new river in the Amazon—the Rio Teodoro. But perhaps the most badass event of Roosevelt's life was his reaction to a 1912 assassination attempt in Milwaukee. He was shot in the chest but decided to deliver his campaign speech anyway, only receiving medical aid after it was done. Indeed, Vice President Thomas Marshall remarked at Roosevelt's funeral that "death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight."
Who's your favorite badass president?