Thursday, February 18, 2010
Pity the poor comedians
The embarrassing gaffes that President Obama has made would ordinarily make him a comedian's dream. But TV's funnymen have been unable to use this material, since they don't like to offend pc sensibilities (quite frequently, their own).
But that doesn't mean we can't still have fun. We just have to pretend it was George W. Bush who made those same lame errors.
Had George Bush referred to the Cinco de Cuatro holiday (instead of Cinco de Mayo) in front of the Mexican ambassador, Jay Leno could have used it in his nightly monologue: "Bush also happened to mention that he was looking forward to being at home with his family to celebrate that famous American holiday....you know, the Third of July."
(Leno's audience would have tittered with the smug satisfaction of knowing they were smarter than the imbecilic Bush.)
Had it been Bush who had bowed to the Saudi king, Leno might have quipped, in that strangely high voice of his, "It's not King Sultan I worry about. I just don't like the way President Bush bows to Queen Pelosi."
(Kevin Eubanks and the rest of the Tonight show audience would have howled at Bush's cravenness.)
Had Bush joked that he would do well in the Special Olympics, David Letterman could have said, "The problem was, the Special Olympics people didn't contribute enough money to his '08 campaign. But Bush did apologize for his joke. He said that from now on he's going to just stick to making fun of cripples."
(Letterman's effete fans could have chuckled over this telling comment about the Republican's unspeakable insensitivity.)
If Bush relied on the Teleprompter to the extent that Obama does, even using it for his press conferences, Letterman would be sniping, "Hey, at least we can be grateful he knows how to read. I mean, who knew? It's a little like the Wizard of Oz -- Pay no attention to that man behind the screen! So what I want to know is, just who is behind the screen telling him what to say? Rahm Emanuel? Or Edgar Bergen?"
(Letterman's fans would have eaten up this image of Bush-as-puppet.)
Had Bush given the Queen of England an iPod with videos of his speeches, Leno might have chirped, "I understand Queen Elizabeth just can't tear herself away from them. Seriously though, how narcissistic is that? I mean, even Governor Schwarzenegger -- who's not exactly lacking in ego -- doesn't give videos of his movies to the Governor of Nevada. And those would actually be fun to watch."
(Leno's audience could feel superior while cringing at Bush's unbridled, utterly shameless vanity.)
Had Bush referred to the (nonexistent) Austrian language Jon Stewart would undoubtedly have made sport of it: "I understand that in anticipation of her upcoming trip to Vienna Chancellor Angela Merkel is brushing up on her Austrian. As a matter of fact that was why historians say Hitler was successful there -- none of the Austrians could understand when he said he was going to invade."
(This vague tying together of Bush and Hitler would have reinforced an ongoing meme with Stewart's liberal audience, the oh-so-perfectly appropriate one of Republicans-as-Nazis.)
Had Bush written a letter thanking a constituent for his "good advise" on quitting smoking, Stewart could have said, "If only now he wouldn't take 'advise' from Joe Biden, we'd all be better off. And in a related story, Bush has been declared eligible to compete in the Special Olympics after all."
(Stewart wouldn't have had to worry about being called to task by the New York Times for that joke, secure in the knowledge that as long as it's a Republican you're mocking, anything goes.)
Had Bush burned 9000 gallons of jet fuel to plant a single tree on Earth Day, Leno could have quipped, "Forget about this warming trend they're talking about. At that rate it's going to look more like a nuclear winter."
(The liberals could then have laughingly shaken their heads in dismay that those dumb Republicans just don't get global warming.)
Had Bush fired the head of GM even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, Letterman might have said, "In other news, George Bush was disappointed with the World Wrestling Federation's latest quarterly results, so he fired Vince McMahon. Bush said it was time to shake up the place -- you know, throw a few bombs in there. So he installed his old buddy Bill Ayers."
(All the liberals watching the TV at home would have laughed at this reminder of the criminal element Bush consorted with before he became President.)
Had Bush said, "I've been in fifty-seven states, [with] I think one left to go," Leno wouldn't have had to say much. He could have just smirked and said, "Fifty-eight states. You know, I -- I really can't make a joke about that. I mean, that says it all." (At this point Leno would have appeared beside himself, helpless with laughter.) "There's just nothing more to add -- that statement is its own punchline."
(Leno's audience would have absolutely howled with delight at this final, incontrovertible proof that Bush was unquestionably every bit as moronic as they had always suspected. )
But Bush did none of these things. Obama did.
So the comedians must remain mute.