5. George W. Bush - January 29, 2002
Four and a half months after September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush delivered his first State of the Union address. Bush opened the speech by saying, "as we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger."
The speech is most well-known for Bush’s singling out of North Korea, Iran and Iraq as members of an "axis of evil" that posed a significant threat to the United States. Bush declared:
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
The phrase “Axis of Evil,” which clearly evoked echoes of Ronald Reagan’s famous indictment of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” generated a great deal of attention and came under criticism from liberals who felt it was overly aggressive and confrontational.