9. D.C. lore: "A Sketchy Story"
Here's how the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History describes the napkin above:
In 1974 economist Art Laffer sketched a new direction for the Republican Party on this napkin. Displeased with President Gerald Ford's decision to raise taxes to control inflation, four men got together at a Washington, DC restaurant to think about alternatives.
Laffer was joined by journalist Jude Wanniski and politicians Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Laffer argued that lowering taxes would increase economic activity. Wanniski popularized the theory, and politicians Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney carried it out. The cloth napkin was taken as a souvenir by Jude Wanniski.
But the N.Y. Times' Binyamin Appelbaum today discloses the disruptive backstory:
[Th]e napkin now celebrated for starting a tax revolt is not, in fact, the original napkin, according to the people who were at the fabled meeting at what was then the Two Continents restaurant in Washington. In an interview last week, Mr. Laffer, 77, said it was most likely a keepsake created a few years later.
Among the clues: It is cloth, while the original napkin was paper. It is dated 9/13/74, while the original meeting took place after the November 1974 midterm elections. And it is inscribed to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then Ford's chief of staff. Mr. Laffer met with Dick Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld's deputy.
Mr. Laffer said that he had drawn on the Smithsonian's napkin, but that he had most likely done so several years later, at the request of the journalist Jude Wanniski, who wanted a keepsake of the famous moment.