Fact Check: Jeff Foxworthy Is NOT Behind Viral 'You Might Live In A Nation That Was Founded By Geniuses But Is Run By Idiots' Essay

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Jeff Foxworthy Is NOT Behind Viral 'You Might Live In A Nation That Was Founded By Geniuses But Is Run By Idiots' Essay Fake Quote

Did Jeff Foxworthy write, "If plastic water bottles are okay, but plastic bags are banned -- you might live in a nation (state) that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots"? No, that's not true: The popular comedian never wrote or said that. The quote is just one example from a long essay that has been falsely attributed to Foxworthy as far back at 2013. A publicist for Foxworthy confirmed that the essay is not from or by Foxworthy.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on May 12, 2016. Since then, it's been shared more than 450,000 times. The essay opened:

If plastic water bottles are okay, but plastic bags are banned, -- you might live in a nation (state) that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally -- you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Dec 16 15:58:28 2020 UTC)

The essay continued:

If you have to get your parents' permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion -- you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government -- you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

The post's construction is reminiscent of Foxworthy's iconic, "You might be a redneck if ..." jokes. Other than that, however, there is nothing to indicate he's behind the viral essay that's falsely topped with the phrase, "By Jeff Foxworthy."

Lead Stories conducted a Google search on Foxworthy and "you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots." The first hit was a September 2015 fact-check from The Florida Times-Union, which found the quote to be false.

We also reached out via email to representatives of Foxworthy. A publicist, Maggie Houlehan, responded that he did not write the essay.

Snopes did a fact-check on the purported quote as far back as 2013. It found that the original author of the essay was "Fritz Edmunds," who reportedly posted it to his blog. A link to that post, dated February 3, 2013, no longer works.

PolitiFact also did a debunk of the claim that Foxworthy was behind the viral essay, giving it a rating of false.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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