There’s no denying that Joe Biden won his fair share of fans during his eight years as Barack Obama’s V.P. And there’s also little wonder why. Indeed, America’s unofficial “cool uncle” is basically the ideal all politicians should strive towards. His relatable, friendly nature finally made the role of vice president almost as cool as the presidency itself. That’s no easy task, of course – but it’s one that Biden was well equipped for, in more ways than one. In 20 ways, in fact…
20. He broke down in tears receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom
As one of his last acts as President of the United States, Barack Obama bestowed Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – without any warning. Indeed, Biden was so surprised that he had to take a moment to compose himself. And not only that, but he spent the much of the rest of the speech in tears. As journalist Jane Merrick tweeted, “We are all Joe Biden crying into the mantelpiece.” Clearly, people were truly touched by Biden’s emotional display.
19. He called Obama’s healthcare legislation a “big f***ing deal” on live TV
In 2010, Obama formally signed into law the Affordable Care Act – the healthcare bill dubbed “Obamacare.” And for the most part, the ceremony went according to script. But when Biden introduced Obama, he actually whispered to the president, “This is a big f***ing deal.” Hilariously, the cameras picked up on Biden’s remark. Rather than try to play down the faux pas, however, press secretary Robert Gibbs instead tweeted, “And yes, Mr. Vice President, you’re right.”
18. He made a crowd stand up for a wheelchair-bound senator
In 2008, Biden told Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham to stand up for the crowd at a campaign speech – despite the fact Graham uses a wheelchair. However, the former vice president quickly made up for his gaffe by getting the entire crowd to stand up for Graham instead. Indeed, even in his most human moments, Biden was a class act.
17. He once stopped in the middle of a speech to put on his sunglasses
Just when you thought Biden couldn’t get any cooler. In 2016, halfway through a campaign speech in support of Hillary Clinton, the vice president stopped to put on his shades. And after a few cheers from the crowd, he joked, “Sorry, I’m doing this because maybe when I need a job, Ray Ban may have me as a sponsor.” Smooth as you like, Joe.
16. He accidentally endorsed gay marriage before Obama
During his re-election campaign in 2012, Barack Obama decided to come out in favor of gay marriage. But before he could do this publicly, Biden accidentally got in there first, speaking off-script in a “Meet the Press” interview. And the White House Adviser at the time, David Plouffe, wasn’t happy. Indeed, he reportedly told Biden, “We were going to do this! In the next two weeks! As a f***ing surprise!“ Poor Joe, meanwhile, didn’t even realize he’d done anything wrong.
15. He reauthorized and extended his Violence Against Women Act
Biden’s campaigns for progressive equal rights saw him reauthorize his Violence Against Women Act in 2013, 19 years after he first got it through Congress. However, it wasn’t such an easy ride this time around. The renewal included extended protections for the L.G.B.T. community and migrants. And, as a result, many Republican House members attempted to weaken it. The full version, however, eventually passed.
14. He wore his aviators to meet Pope Francis
Joe Biden and sunglasses go together like turkey and stuffing. Except, of course, that one of those pairings is infinitely cooler. So, while attending Pope Francis’ installation mass, Biden again broke out his classic aviators, which he says he’s been wearing since he was 15 years old. Now, that’s some commitment.
13. He showed up on Parks and Rec to make Leslie Knope’s dreams come true
Plenty of famous politicians have made cameos on the hit NBC comedy Parks and Recreation – including former First Lady Michelle Obama. But none of them did it quite as smoothly as Joe Biden. Indeed, this was mainly thanks to the recurring joke that the show’s main character, Leslie Knope, loves the ex-vice president. Finally seeing Knope meet her on-screen idol, then, was absolutely priceless – and, what’s more, a great payoff for the show’s fans.
12. He reintroduced the word “malarkey”
Not only did Joe Biden make the role of vice president cool again, he also did the same for the word “malarkey.” In 2016, during a speech at the Democratic National Convention, he referred to a statement by Republican Donald Trump as “a bunch of malarkey.” And the internet, perhaps understandably, went crazy. In fact, it wasn’t the first time that he’d used the word, with the Washington Post consequently going so far as to declare it his catchphrase. Well, there are definitely worse catchphrases to have…
11. He had a bromance to envy with Barack Obama
Joe Biden’s relationship with his former president, Barack Obama, is the stuff of legend. And nothing solidified the budding bromance more than the former vice president’s birthday tweet to Obama last year. In it, he wrote, “Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever.” What’s more, he posted a picture of a friendship bracelet bearing their names alongside the tweet. How sweet.
10. He had water fights with kids and press at his annual summer party
Once a year, from 2010 to 2016, the Bidens hosted a Beach Boardwalk Bash at their Naval Observatory abode. And frequently, Joe Biden would get involved in the huge water fight that would break out among the kids. Last year, moreover, even the press got in on the action. Everyone wants to have fun with the vice prez, after all.
9. He became the king of memes
From his well-meaning nature to his charming amiability, there’s something inherently likeable about Joe Biden. So it’s no surprise that everything he did was ripe for turning into a meme. And the good-natured ribbing of “America’s Uncle” peaked when Donald Trump was elected, with a wave of memes featuring Biden planning to play pranks on the incoming president. For once, it seems, people were laughing with a politician rather than at them. Biden must have been doing something right.
8. He went undercover at a party for a Funny or Die sketch
Biden is totally down with the kids. In 2016, in fact, he participated in a sketch for online video series Funny or Die, in which he donned his trademark shades to deliver a lesson on rape culture. And of course, the best way to do that was alongside Adam Devine – while undercover at a college party, no less. You’re so rad, Joe.
7. He officiated a gay wedding for two White House staffers
Not only did Biden endorse the concept of gay marriage in 2012, but in 2016 he even officiated a wedding between two male White House staff members. In fact, Brian Mosteller and Joe Mahshie personally asked Biden to officiate the ceremony, which was carried out at the vice president’s Naval Observatory home. That’s right; he really is everyone’s cool uncle.
6. He left a $20 tip for a $3 milkshake
Joe Biden loves milkshakes. In fact, he loves them so much that he’s willing to give a 566 percent tip for one. Yes, in 2016 he nipped into a South Carolina diner for a $3 chocolate shake and reportedly left his server a $20 tip. A cool move if ever there was one. Then again, considering how often Biden drinks shakes – and shares them with Obama, as the former president told a crowd in 2014 – those generous tips could quickly add up.
5. He officially announced his love for ice cream
Anyone who likes milkshakes that much is obviously going to be a massive ice cream fan too. Nevertheless, Biden found it necessary to officially declare his love for the only dessert that’s as cool as him. Yes, during a visit to an ice cream joint in Ohio in 2016 he announced, “My name is Joe Biden, and I love ice cream. You all think I’m kidding – I’m not. I eat more ice cream than three other people you’d like to be with, all at once.”
4. He appointed the first ever White House Adviser on Violence Against Women
Early on in his first term as vice president – and, following in the footsteps of his 1994 Violence Against Women Act – Biden created the role of White House Adviser on Violence Against Women. So, in 2009, Lynn Rosenthal was appointed to the role, where she worked to shine a light on issues of domestic violence. Indeed, if there’s one thing you can’t fault Biden on, it’s his championing of women’s rights.
3. He spoke out for immigrants, saying they’re “already Americans”
In 2013, Biden displayed his humanity yet again during a speech to politicians in Pennsylvania. Indeed, the former vice president told his audience that the 11 million unofficial migrants then estimated to reside in the U.S. were “already Americans.” Invoking his own great grandparents – who were themselves immigrants – Biden said that all these people wanted was to be able to build a better life for their families. Joe Biden: forever standing up for the little guy.
2. He got incredibly emotional over the struggles of army veterans
There’s more to being cool than having a relaxed and fun persona. In fact, Biden proved as much in 2016, when he spoke out on the struggles of armed forces veterans who suffer from P.T.S.D. Indeed, his impassioned speech recalled the tragic case of a captain who refused a medal for risking his life to save a comrade because the comrade had died. Consequently, the former vice president showed that he’s just as adept at showing respect as being cool.
1. He put together a summertime playlist
Well, technically, he put it together with the help of his wife, Jill. But the Bidens’ summertime playlist is about as chilled out, maxin’ and relaxin’ all cool as it gets. From Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles to Adele and Al Green, the playlist is basically perfect summer B.B.Q. material. Joe, you always know just what we want to hear.