10 Really Smart People Who Did Really Dumb Things

Bill Clinton Has Affair with Intern, Lies Under Oath About it
President Bill Clinton pauses as he apologizes to the U.S. on Dec. 11, 1998 for his conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Rex Banner/Getty Images

After serving two terms in the U.S.'s highest office, President Bill Clinton started the Clinton Foundation to address some of the most pressing issues affecting the world today, from childhood obesity and climate change to global health. So, how did such a charitable and intelligent guy become part of one of the most notorious presidential sex scandals?

In 1999, President Clinton faced impeachment after details of an affair with 21-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky. While the affair itself was a pretty dumb move -- if you're going to have an affair, maybe don't choose someone that works for you -- the even dumber thing Clinton did was lie under oath.

The affair came to light in 1998 as part of a sexual harassment investigation filed by Paula Jones against Clinton [source: Linder]. In January 1998, Clinton was questioned about it formally by Jones's lawyers and lied under oath, saying the affair with Lewinsky never happened. Who can forget Clinton wagging his finger at the press and saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky"? He stuck to that lie until that August when her infamous blue dress -- stained with Clinton's semen -- came to light. Clinton later said they "only" had oral sex so he had not lied when he said they did not have sexual relations.

If Clinton hadn't lied under oath about his affair with Lewinsky, there would have been much less fodder for an impeachment case later on, but Clinton was acting out of fear and stress that the revelation would hurt his political career [source: Linder].

Whether it did is debatable. While Clinton was found not guilty in his impeachment trial, some say the whole ordeal damaged the mystique of the presidency [source: Linder]. However, Clinton's other acts as president -- like ending the war in Bosnia and balancing the federal budget -- helped save his reputation. In fact, he left office with the highest approval rating of any postwar president [source: American Experience].