Former US presidential hopeful John Kerry did no better at university than his rival George Bush, records show.
College records show there was little to choose between the two men
Documents obtained by the Boston Globe daily showed Mr Kerry got a string of D grades in his first year at Yale.
The US media have made great play of the revelations, saying they overturn the perception that Mr Kerry was the president's intellectual superior.
"So much for the notion that President Bush is a dunce compared with Senator Kerry," said the New York Daily News.
The records show that "the tangle-tongued Texan and the loquacious liberal senator from Massachusetts" both ended up with C grades at the end of their university careers, the paper said.
Mr Kerry gave permission for the US Navy officer school where he was trained to release his records to the Boston Globe.
They showed that Mr Kerry had a cumulative grade average of 76 for his four years at Yale, the paper said.
Mr Bush, who also went to Yale and was two years behind John Kerry, had an average of 77, according to records published by the New Yorker magazine in 1999.
Mr Kerry has said he spent more of his time concentrating on learning to fly, debating, and political activities, than on studying.
But he tried to put a gloss on his poor grades.
"I always told my Dad that D stood for distinction," Mr Kerry told the Globe.
During the presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate - awarded medals for bravery during the Vietnam war - refused to release his military records.
It led to speculation that there might be something in his military history he wanted to hide, and fuelled an anti-Kerry campaign calling his status as a Vietnam hero into question.