Walter Mondale was easily one of the greatest vice presidents in American history and he got his job because he did his homework. By June 1976, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter had the the presidential nomination locked up. Frank Church, John Glenn and Adlai Stevenson III were all being floated for the number two spot. Yet when Mondale wowed his future boss during an interview because of he actually bothered to sit down and learn all of Carter's positions on every issue. He even read Carter's book, Why Not the Best? Before Carter offered him the job, Mondale made it clear that he didn't want to give up his powerful Senate seat to be just a political figurehead. He wasn't going to do funerals. He wanted to mold policy. Carter agreed. And in the process Mondale reinvented the vice presidency - setting the stage, for better or worse, for strong, politically powerful veeps like Gore, Cheney and Biden.
Of course, Mondale is also remembered for famously underestimating how much Americans want to be lied to by their leader. During his 1984 presidential campaign, Walter Mondale promised to tell the truth. “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” He was right. Reagan did go on to raise taxes. Mondale lost the election by a landslide.