King Canute and the Tide
King Canute (really Cnut but that's too risky to type) is largely famous for this story:
with the greatest vigor he commanded that his chair should be set on the shore, when the tide began to rise. And then he spoke to the rising sea saying “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”.
Of course, it turns out that his power is limited.
But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs.
Now, in the traditional story, it turns out that Canute was using this to demonstrate the limits of temporal power:
Then he moving away said: “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws”. Therefore King Cnut never afterwards placed the crown on his head, but above a picture of the Lord nailed to the cross, turning it forever into a means to praise God, the great king.
It's just been reported that King Barack intends to announce today that all the insurance companies are now allowed to continue old "substandard" insurance plans. From the poll numbers, though, it looks like he's already underwater.