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Joe lives in his own reality

One consistent aspect of President Joe Biden‘s time in the White House has been his tendency to exaggerate stories about his past.

Biden’s tendency to exaggerate, which goes back decades, typically involves stories with an element of truth that get stretched with new and often hard-to-believe details. Biden sometimes gets called out via fact checks, yet blows through them faster than a speeding Amtrak train.

Here are five examples of the phenomenon.

“There were a lot of cannibals”

The latest exaggeration came while Biden visited the war memorial in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his uncle Ambrose J. Finnegan’s name is listed on the wall. That led the president to launch into a story about Finnegan.

“He flew single-engine planes, reconnaissance flights over New Guinea. He had volunteered because someone couldn’t make it. He got shot down in an area where there were a lot of cannibals in New Guinea at the time,” Biden said. “They never recovered his body, but the government went back when I went down there, and they checked and found some parts of the plane.”

Biden used the story in a roundabout way to bash former President Donald Trump, citing a disputed claim that the former president refused to visit a cemetery for American soldiers in France because he thought they were “suckers” and “losers.”

But military records contradict nearly every detail of Biden’s story about his uncle, instead noting that Finnegan’s plane crashed in the ocean due to engine failure. Biden also backed out of a planned visit to Papua New Guinea last year, and there are no records of any search that found parts of Finnegan’s plane.

“Joey Baby!”

One of the president’s most oft-cited tales involves an Amtrak train conductor named Angelo Negri, who informed him that he had traveled more miles on Amtrak than on Air Force Two as vice president.

Despite Biden’s fondness for it, the story cannot be true, as CNN has reported. Negri retired from Amtrak in 1993 and died in 2014. Biden did not surpass 1 million miles flown as vice president until September 2015.

“I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat”
Another story the president has told on many occasions involves a 2004 house fire at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. As the president tells it, the fire spread and “I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.”

“The [firefighters] ran into flames and saved my wife and saved my family,” Biden said. “Not a joke.”

Joke or not, the story stretches the truth. An Associated Press story from 2004 reported that lightning did strike Biden’s home, starting “a small fire that was contained to the kitchen.”

“The fire was under control in 20 minutes,” the local fire chief said.

“This is ‘Big Mama,’ no room”

The president told a colorful story about driving an 18-wheeler from Delaware to Ohio as a young senator, including an encounter with the first female truck driver he’d ever met: “Big Mama.”

“I’ve got a United States senator driving my truck,” Biden quoted his passenger as telling Big Mama, hoping to get through a blockade tied to a union strike.

“I got the damn president in mine,” Big Mama responded. “So what?”

According to PolitiFact, Biden has claimed more than once to have driven a big rig but has never actually done so. PolitiFact said the president did once ride along on a truck drive from Delaware to Ohio, however, so Big Mama may be out there somewhere.

“I don’t want the damn thing”

Biden’s suggestion that his uncle was eaten by cannibals is not the only time he has told an exaggerated claim about an uncle of his. Back in 2022, Biden recalled attempting to award his uncle frank a long-lost Purple Heart after being elected vice president.

Biden recounted during a town hall event that his father, Joseph R. Biden Sr., asked him to give Frank Biden a Purple Heart for his service in the Battle of the Bulge.

“You know, I — my dad, when I got elected vice president, he said, ‘Joey, Uncle Frank fought in the Battle of the Bulge.’ He was not feeling very well now — not because of the Battle of the Bulge. But he said, ‘And he won the Purple Heart. And he never received it. He never — he never got it. Do you think you could help him get it? We’ll surprise him,'” Joe Biden said at the time. “So we got him the Purple Heart. He had won it in the Battle of the Bulge. And I remember he came over to the house and I came out and he said, ‘Present it to him, OK?’ We had the family there.”

Joe Biden continued, “I said, ‘Uncle Frank, you won this. And I want to…’ He said, ‘I don’t want the damn thing.’ No, I’m serious. He said, ‘I don’t want it.’ I said, ‘What’s the matter, Uncle Frank? You earned it.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but the others died. The others died. I lived. I don’t want it.'”

While the story is heartfelt, it doesn’t add up. For one, Joe Biden’s father died in 2002, six years before he was elected vice president, meaning he couldn’t have been part of the conversation.

Second, Frank Biden died even earlier, in 1999, so he too could not have received a Purple Heart from his nephew after 2008. Furthermore, there is a lack of evidence that Frank Biden was awarded a Purple Heart during the war.

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