Not only is the new and improved Democratic majority delivering the change, change, change we’ve all been pining for, it apparently will also provide us with some big league grins.
Not only is the new and improved Democratic majority delivering the change, change, change we've all been pining for, it apparently will also provide us with some big league grins.
Take Wisconsin Congressman Steve Kagen. Please. Talking to a group of peace activists a few weeks ago, the freshman gloated over some terrific one-liners he purportedly launched when invited to a White House reception for new lawmakers.
It was a "very playful experience," Kagen later told the press. Exactly how playful is difficult to determine.
The congressman's story began to change after initial coverage in an alternative newspaper named The Scene Online. The White House denied his version. When reporters attempted to ferret out the truth, Kagen clammed up faster than Frank Nitti in front of a grand jury.
According to The Scene Online, Kagen first claimed he encountered Bush advisor Karl Rove in the men's room. Keeping the door closed so Rove couldn't exit, he said: "You're in the White House and you think your (sic) safe, huh? You recognize me? My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your a**."
Following that knee slapper, he allegedly ran into Vice President Dick Cheney and introduced himself: "Mr. Vice President, thank you for your service to the nation, and thank you so much for coming to Green Bay and campaigning against me. I couldn't have won without your help."
Little Stevie was just warming up. He was invited to have his picture taken with Mr. and Mrs. Bush and dialed up the charm once more:
"Mr. President, thank you for coming to Green Bay. My name is Dr. Multimillionaire. That was before the race. Now they call me Doctor Thousandaire. I couldn't have won without you coming."
The playful experience continued: "Then I go to his wife, 'Hi Barbara, how are ya?' I did that because I learned on the campaign that the meanest thing you can say to another gentlemen is, 'he's a fine fellow,' and you then refer to his spouse by a different name."
With boffo material like that, the classy congressman was clearly destined for bigger things. Maybe even Comedy Central. But then something funny happened. The folks who elected this nitwit started paying attention.
Congressman Kagen issued an apology. In a letter to constituents that appeared in several district newspapers last weekend, he wrote:
"I allowed this distraction to get out of hand and divert our attention from the critically important work we're doing. My mishandled attempt at humor wasn't delivered or received well. It won't happen again."
I doubt it. A clown like Kagen won't readily be dissuaded.
Moreover, he'll face stiff competition from fellow Democratic jokesters. New York Senator Charles Schumer is one challenger. In the latest Newsweek, the senator writes of a couple of acquaintances:
"Biking through New York's boroughs in 2005, I thought about some old friends, Joe and Eileen Bailey. Though they are imaginary, I frequently talk to them. To me, they represent the hardworking and often-ignored families who are not tuned in to special-interest newsletters or editorial pages, but want a little something more from their government and their leaders."
Talking to imaginary friends again, heh? I wonder if any Democrats have imaginary friends who DON'T want a little something more from their government.
Then there's Jovial John Kerry. OK, so he botched that one punch line and ended up slurring our troops in Iraq. He can still bring down the house with his patented I voted against the war before I voted for the war routine.
Let's not forget Blithesome Babs Boxer, the California senator who deadpanned: "Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, 'Thank God I'm still alive.' But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again."
And what about that perennial belly buster, Mrs. Clinton? Her newest droll shtick is running for her party's 2008 nomination using just her first name. Her campaign Web site is "Hillary for President" and a quick check of the home page today shows her referred to as just plain Hillary seven times. Good old what's his name is off his leash and harder to find than those billing records were.
Illinois' Dick Durbin is also no slouch in the guffaw department, even though his signature line about thinking President Lincoln was Jewish because his name was Abraham and he was shot in the temple might need a little polishing.
So many Democrats, so much material. Looks like they can offer us their own brand of Comedy Relief. What did we expect, tax relief?
Notes: This Michael Bates column appeared in the January 25, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.
Biography - Mike Bates
Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column