"I'm probably one of the four or five best-known Americans in the world."
Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 in a comment to reporters in London.
Famous, but not that famous
Rudy Giuliani has been a world traveler since he ended his term as New York City mayor to become a security consultant. He says he's made 91 trips to 35 countries in the past five years.
On a whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom recently, he met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and schmoozed Ronald Reagan's old friend Margaret Thatcher. In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II gave him an honorary knighthood for his leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks.
He must have been feeling particularly well-loved when he bragged to reporters in London that he was one of the "four or five" most famous Americans in the world.
Reporters were quick to ask: Who else is on the list?
"Bill Clinton … Hillary," Rudy began, before aides (wisely?) pulled him away.
He might want to add those two guys from his own party: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
We know Giuliani is from New York, and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. But still … top five? In the world?
We turned to the world of scientific polling. Polling the globe is a daunting proposition. But representatives of both the Gallup World Poll and the Pew Global Attitudes Project said they have never queried the world on who among us Americans is best known.
We asked Giuliani's campaign staff, but they didn't offer anything to back up the claim.
Opinionmakers across the Web guffawed at the notion that Giuliani ranks so high and were willing to offer other ideas. The New York Daily News suggested Brangelina, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey, among others. Wonkette, a political gossip blog, offered suggestions from George Washington to Michael Jackson. Chris Reed, a San Diego Union-Tribune blogger, said Colin Powell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and slew of other celebs are more famous. (Fair warning: Reed calls his blog "America's Finest Blog.")
We here at PolitiFact finally turned to an unscientific — but world-famous — measure of celebrity: Google hits.
Here's what we found:
"George W. Bush": 36.4-million hits
"Oprah": 21.9-million hits
"Tom Cruise": 10.1-million hits
"Angelina Jolie": 9.9-million hits
"Brad Pitt": 7.2-million hits
"Hillary Clinton": 5.8-million hits
"Bill Clinton": 5.8-million hits
"Dick Cheney": 2.5-million hits
"Arnold Schwarzenegger": 2.3-million hits
"Rudy Giuliani": 2.1-million hits.
That puts Giuliani at No. 10. And we didn't even include Madonna, because we couldn't figure out how to weed out the religious and artwork references.
For all of the above reasons, we rate this claim "pants on fire."