In 1948, Butz became vice president of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and three years later was named to the same post at the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. In 1954, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That same year he was also named chairman of the United States delegation to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He left both of the aforementioned posts in 1957, when he became the Dean of Agriculture at his alma mater, Purdue University. In 1968, he was promoted to the positions of Dean of Education and vice president of the university's research foundation. In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Butz as Secretary of Agriculture, a position in which he continued to serve after Nixon resigned as the result of the Watergate scandal in 1974.
So far, so good.
At the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome, Butz made fun of Pope Paul Vi's opposition to "population control" by quipping, in a mock Italian accent: "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules." A spokesman for Cardinal Cooke of the New York archdiocese demanded an apology, and the White House requested that he apologize. Butz issued a statement saying that he had not "intended to impugn the motives or the integrity of any religious group, ethnic group or religious leader."
Butz resigned his cabinet post on October 4, 1976 after a second gaffe. News outlets revealed a racist remark he made in front of entertainer Pat Boone and former White House counsel John Dean while aboard a commercial flight to California following the Republican National Convention. The October 18, 1976 issue of Time reported the comment (though it obscured the vulgarity):
Butz started by telling a dirty joke involving intercourse between a dog and a skunk. When the conversation turned to politics, Boone, a right-wing Republican, asked Butz why the party of Lincoln was not able to attract more blacks. The Secretary responded with a line so obscene and insulting to blacks that it forced him out of the Cabinet last week and jolted the whole Ford campaign. Butz said that "the only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are tight pussy, loose shoes, and a warm place to shit." After some indecision, Dean used the line in Rolling Stone, attributing it to an unnamed Cabinet officer. But New Times magazine enterprisingly sleuthed out Butz's identity by checking the itineraries of all Cabinet members.
This was later immortalized in the movie Loose Shoes, in the "Darktown After Dark" segment. That video link is NSFW (audio), and more importantly you'll be singing it all day, if you watch it.