It's more than a little disturbing that America's least sexy president spent a nanosecond thinking about panda sex—but a recorded conversation reveals none other than Richard Nixon telling Washington Star foreign editor Crosby Noyes that, "They don't know how to mate." The recording comes via Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter, who wrote The Nixon Tapes: 1971–1972, and occurred as Nixon called to leak news that China's gift of two giant pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, would go to the National Zoo, reports the Washington Post.
Nixon begins by admitting he doesn’t have anything “earthshaking” for Noyes, but before long he veers off into the problem with pandas. "The only way they learn is to watch other pandas mate. You see? So they’re keeping them [in China] a little while … to sort of learn, you know, how it’s done." Noyes laughs, and says that "sure, [the pandas need to] learn the ropes." Then he gets a little journalistic advice from Tricky Dick: "I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas ... have learned." (The Post has the complete transcript—though they also discussed things other than panda sex.)