Richard Cartwright / CBS
The comedian: Candice Bergen
The straight-man: Vice President Dan Quayle
The collision: During a 1992 campaign speech in California, Quayle looked at the societal causes for the riots that had recently broken out in Los Angeles. Among the reasons he gave, he singled out pop culture's embrace of negative values embodied in sitcom character Murphy Brown, who had recently decided to have a baby, despite remaining unmarried. In the speech Quayle said it "doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice."
Bush and Quayle lost their reelection campaign and were out of office in January 1993. "Murphy Brown" stayed on the air until 1998. The speech is widely credited for sparking a decade-long argument about the collapse of the American family.