The entry below is a posting from my personal blog at www.davidcorn.com. It was titled, “The Bushes Offer a Horse Jerk-off Joke But No Words for the Troops…and Other Impolite Observations From the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”
No mention of the US troops being killed in Iraq but a horse jerk-off joke–that is one way to sum up the First Couple’s appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday evening.
This black-tie shindig is an annual ritual. Over two thousand DC media people and government officials mingle with imported Hollywood celebrities–hey there goes Richard Gere!–and the president of the moment shows up and entertains the feeling-good-about-themselves attendees with humorous (often self-deprecating) remarks. Last year, Bush made a crack about my book, The Lies of George W. Bush.
This evening, the Bush White House pulled a switcheroo. Bush started his routine by telling a joke he repeatedly used on the campaign trail. The gag pokes fun at a city slicker lost in a rural area, and what Bush didn’t say is that he learned it during his unsuccessful 1978 congressional bid when his opponent told the joke to lampoon a certain Andover, Yale and Harvard grad who was trying to pass himself off as a Texan. As Bush-watchers in the ballroom familiar with this stale chestnut started to groan, Laura Bush stood up, walked to the podium, leaned into the microphone and said, “Not that old joke.” She then told her husband to sit down, and she delivered a polished routine that ribbed her old man for being early-to-bed dull. She noted that she had told him, “If you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later.”
Laura’s well-written script included several shots of risque material. After revealing that come nine o’clock at night, “Mr. Excitement is sound asleep, and I’m watching Desperate Housewives,” she added, “If those women think they’re desperate, they ought to be with George.” She then joked that she, Lynne Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice had hit Chippendale’s late one night. And moments later–after referring to Barbara Bush as Don Corleone and joking about her husband’s aversion to reading–she made fun of her number-one cowboy for knowing little of the ways of ranch life when they bought the spread in Crawford, Texas. Such a greenhorn was George, she explained, “he tried to milk the horse. What’s more–it was a male horse.”
It was a good performance but weird, for Laura had jabbed at her husband for not reading books, had suggested he was no powerhouse in bed, and had encouraged everyone in the room–and all those children at home glued to C-SPAN–to envision George W. Bush pulling on the penis of a horse. (I wondered how social conservative leader James Dobson, who was scheduled to be at the dinner, reacted.) It was not hard to figure out why the White House decided to have Laura upstage George. Her approval rating is almost twice his, and his number–in the mid-40s–are at a record low. But an HBO routine? Afterward, both Al Franken and Bill Maher were complaining that they could not have gotten away with that horse joke.