Red State/Blue State

Questioning the rule of the unfunny Republican


A political discussion between Red

State conservative Dave Simpson – a former

reporter, editor, publisher and columnist

– and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and

executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers.

Let us know what you think.

Dear Gregster:

I’m calling you Gregster this week to show that I’m one funny Red State Republican, a rare conservative whose sense of humor goes beyond fake vomit and whoopee cushions. I’m a laugh a minute, Greg.

Unlike most Republicans, who are portrayed in the national media as hopeless George Babbitts whose idea of a big night is going over their 401(k) balances and complaining about the help, I’m one funny guy, even though I live in a Red State and usually vote (I’m not afraid to say it) Republican. I vote Republican because even though most of the Republicans we elected in the big Hoo-Haa Revolution of 1994 turned out to be lying, big-spending sacks, I know that electing Democrats to cut spending is like asking arsonists to help fight the fire.

I learned most of what I know about being a laugh riot from you, Greg. Remember when your stepson asked you what a Republican was, and you waited until a really homely guy appeared on television, then you pointed to the screen and said, “THAT’S A REPUBLICAN!”

And wasn’t it you who said, in print, that Republicans look silly when they dance because they’re so stiff, but they serve better food at their conventions (they just don’t share it with reporters)? I’m selfconscious about dancing to this day.

What brings this up is a television ad I saw for Republican Mike Huckabee, in which tough guy Chuck Norris says Huckabee is a “lifelong hunter,” and Huckabee says Norris doesn’t endorse candidates, “he says how it’s going to be.” Then at the end, Huckabee says he supports the ad, “and so does Chuck Norris.”

For a while there I thought the ad was funny, but on the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC, pundit Chris Matthews wasn’t amused. He cited Huckabee’s opposition to gun control, then hammered him for saying guns can stem violence at a time when gang members are killing each other in Philadelphia. So much for Republican humor, Mike.

I’m sorry I laughed, Chris.

Republicans should stop trying to make Democrats laugh. They’re never going to see us as regular guys with a sense of humor, even though Dick Cheney said last week that the two pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys should be named “Lunch” and “Dinner.” When the reporters get through with us, we always look like unfeeling despots, overpaid skunks at a garden party, the hopeless clod who gets drunk and falls into the birthday cake.

The only exception was when John Mc- Cain made fun of Barbra Streisand on “Saturday Night Live,” singing his very funny version of “Feelings,” and explaining that if Barbra could do politics, he could do vocals. Even the Democrats thought that was funny, but then, McCain was a “maverick Republican,” which I guess gives him special dispensation from the Unfunny Republican Rule.

To quote Sean Hannity, you’re a “Great American,” Greg. What’s your take on this Republican humor question?

Sincerely, Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

You know, a funny Republican is like a two-headed goat, something that doesn’t occur naturally in nature, but you want to make a big deal of it when it shows up, maybe put it in the circus freak show and charge admission to see it.

I know of three funny Republicans. Former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson was one before his humor became biting (I still tell some of his jokes). P.J. O’Rourke, who used to write for the Village Voice, is another. I think you’re the third, and that’s why we’ve been friends for so long.

Republican guys with talents as rare as yours are worth keeping around. It’s like the joke about the pig that saves a farmer’s life, so the farmer only eats one of the pig’s legs. “A special pig like that, you don’t want to eat it all at once,” the farmer explains.

My opinions about Republicans who aren’t funny, can’t dance and don’t share their food came honestly, as you know, from the days when I was a political reporter. The fact that so many of them are also homely to the point of being ugly is just a coincidence. I stick by my opinions, but I think I can explain my reasoning.

First is the issue of likability. In order to find someone really funny, you have to believe that at some level, the person is a decent human being. That’s why Karl Rove will never be funny, even if he dances to rap music in drag like your pal Rudy Giuliani.

With Rudy, that was funny. With Karl, it’s just skeevy because at his core, Karl Rove is a soulless dirtbag.

Same thing with Lord Cheney. Like you, I know Dick Cheney personally, and I’d like an honest answer here. Did he ever make you laugh? If memory serves, he still owes you money for a photograph, and he stiffed me on breakfast once, but he never made me chuckle. You know humor, Dave. Is that lunch and dinner thing funny? Or does it kind of creep you out?

Second is the issue of self-deprecation. When most Democrats (and the rare Republican, like you) make a joke, they often poke a little fun at themselves to get the point across.

On the flip side, when a Republican makes a joke, it seems like it’s usually at someone else’s expense. Ronald Reagan was a popular president because he understood this, and his humor was often self-deprecating or humorous for its own sake.

When was the last time George (Shrub) Bush made you laugh, not counting his fractured use of the English language, statements like “I’m honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein.” How about Donald Rumsfeld? Alberto Gonzales? Tom Tancredo? The list goes on and on, Dave. Humorless Republicans by the carload.

I agree with you on the Mike Huckabee/ Chuck Norris commercial though. The fact that Chris Matthews didn’t like it only proves one thing. There are a few hopeless clods on the other side of the fence as well. Personally, I think we’d be better off if they’d all lighten up a little, don’t you? Did you hear the one about the Republican duck that walks into a bar … ?

Your friend,

Blue State Greg (the Gregster)

You can reach Greg Bean at gbean@gmnews. com. Dave Simpson can be reached at