Jack Remembers: Congressman Bill Hungate had a sense of humor and patience of a donkey and elephant combined

By Jack Hackley

Bill Hungate was Congressman from the 9th Congressional District from 1964 to 1977. He became well-known as the author of the Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon. Every time I get around a group of older Democrats from the old 9th District and the Congressman’s name comes up, they start telling Hungate stories.
Hungate had a great sense of humor. When the Republicans started claiming they were better Christians than the Democrats, Hungate said he never read in the Bible where Jesus rode into town on an elephant.
When he ran for Congress in a special election after the death of Clarence Cannon, there were 14 Democrats in the primary. Every time he gave a talk, the other candidates would plant someone in the audience who would ask if he was a Haaaarvard Lawyer. He finally said, “Yes, I am a Harvard lawyer, but not a very good one.”
It always drew a lot of laughs, and they finally stopped asking the question.
Hungate was scheduled to speak at Highland High School in Lewis County when a man came up to him and asked if he could see him for a moment. Hungate said the vibes from this man were trouble, so he said, “Just tell my assistant what you want.”  The man said, “NO, I need to talk to YOU!”  Bill said, “I can’t see you now, I need to speak to the assembly.”
The man said he would wait. When the talk ended an hour later, sure enough, there he was still waiting. Hungate walked over and asked “What is the problem?”  He said, “I can’t talk to you out here in the hall, we need a private room.”
The school superintendent graciously allowed them to use his office. Once inside, the constituent said, “You know that questionnaire you sent me?”  “Yes”, said Hungate. “Well I want to change my answer on Question #5 from Yes to No.”
Hungate took a note and told the man he would change it. (He had sent out 140,000 questionaires.)
Since Linden VanLandingham, a Democratic friend of Hungate from Paris, told me this story several years ago, I keep wondering what Question #5 was.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or Check out

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