Here are five representative Sarah Palin jokes I found in recent late-night TV monologues:
•Reporters asked Sarah Palin if she could ever be president and commander-in-chief, and she said, "Ya, sure, you betcha!" … David Letterman (CBS)
•Since Sarah Palin became the vice presidential nominee, there's been an actual spike in the sales of her style of eyeglasses. Gone way up. Yeah. Yeah, with Palin's glasses, you'll be able to see everything, except what the hell your teenage daughter's up to. ... Conan O'Brien (NBC)
•I gotta admit, [Palin, the governor of Alaska] looked very comfortable at the podium. 'Cause it's kinda like Alaska: you look out on that [Republican] convention floor, nothing but white as far as the eye can see. … Jay Leno (NBC)
•They asked her if she would be able to explain how she once lobbied Washington for earmarks, and she said, "We'll cross that bridge to nowhere when we come to it."… Jay Leno
•"[Republican presidential nominee John] McCain has been running this campaign based on 'We're at war, it's a dangerous world out there … I, John McCain, am the only one standing between the blood-thirsty Al Qaeda and you. But if I die, this stewardess can handle it.' " … Bill Maher (HBO)
You'll notice I didn't say five hilarious Sarah Palin jokes. I'd have led with those if I had 'em.
Truth is, for all that the GOP's vice presidential nominee is one of the more remarkable political figures to burst on the national scene in many years, comedians and satirists haven't yet reached consensus about where to direct their remarks.
Jimmy Kimmel of ABC jokes about her sex appeal, saying Palin is "the prettiest candidate for vice president since John Edwards" and that "she looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she's in high heels and a bikini."
But Letterman jokes about how ordinary she looks—"like the lady in the dental office who gives you the keys to the restroom" and "like the woman in the department store who tries to spray you with perfume."
The one-liners about Palin's enthusiasm for guns—"Another vice president who's a hunter, what could go wrong there?" (Leno); She "likes to shoot assault rifles. I'll say this for her daughter's boyfriend: the kid's got guts." (Letterman)—and the related shotgun wedding jokes related to the upcoming nuptials of Palin's pregnant teenage daughter have been serviceable enough.
So have the Alaska jokes.
But late-night political humor tends to rely on caricature—one or two distinctive traits that comedians hammer on and that, fairly or not, become central to a candidate's identity.
In joke after late-night joke, Dan Quayle was a dunce, Bill Clinton was a horn-dog, Bob Dole was a crank, Al Gore was a wooden braggart, George W. Bush was an incurious frat boy and John Kerry was a vacillating aristocrat. (See "Flashback: Late-night political jokes from early September, 2004 ")
In this cycle, John McCain is a doddering senior, Joe Biden is a windy bore and Barack Obama is a vain, would-be messiah.
We don't yet know what Palin will be.
- The "Ya, sure, you betcha!" small-town mom?
- The compulsive exaggerator whose reform credentials are actually slight?
- The blinking Washington neophyte?
- The Church Lady?
- The conservative attack dog who dominates McCain?
Whether the late-night comics will create this image or merely reflect it is a good chicken/egg question for academics.
All I know is that while others will be watching opinion polls to see how Palin is playing with the electorate, I'll be watching the monologues.
You'll note that some of these jokes, though they mention Palin, are at the expense of someone else:
You know, Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. You know that. And she's a lifelong member of the NRA, the National Rifle Association. So, great, is what I'm thinking, another vice president that shoots a drinking buddy.
The Palin family crisis that we were talking about on Sunday and Monday, that has been solved now and, today, the baby is being adopted by Angelina Jolie.
I kind of like that Sarah Palin. You know, she reminds me, she looks like the flight attendant who won't give you a second can of Pepsi. No, you've had enough. We're landing. Looks like the waitress at the coffee shop who draws a little smiley face on your check. Have a nice day.
Is it just me, or does Sarah Palin look like a model for LensCrafters? .
Sarah Palin gave a tremendous speech to the Republicans, though some are claiming it was actually her daughter's speech.
Say what you will about this Sarah Palin, women love this candidate. Am I right about that? As a matter of fact, last night at the convention, security had to restrain Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter.
When Sarah Palin and John McCain make an appearance together, there's always a brief hug, but no kissing. It's just like Bill and Hillary.
I like that Sarah Palin. She looks like the lady in the dental office who gives you the keys to the restroom.
Sarah Palin looks like the weekend anchor on Channel 9. She looks like the hygienist who makes you feel guilty about not flossing. She looks like the relieved mom in a Tide commercial
She looks like the lady at the bakery who yells out, “44! 44! 45!”
Sarah Palin looks like a real estate agent whose picture you see on the bus stop bench.
Sarah Palin looks like the lady who has a chain of cupcake stores.
Sarah Palin looks like the mayor of a small town that’s banned dancing.
People are now asking the question is Sarah Palin ready to be president? If, God forbid, something happens to John McCain, is Sarah Palin ready to be president? I don’t think we need to worry about that because Bush has lowered the bar so tremendously, I mean, I’m ready to be president.
Did you see Governor Sarah Palin on the cover of Newsweek? Look, she's holding a shotgun. Holding a shotgun. This picture was taken right after she announced that guy would be marrying her pregnant daughter.
It got a little testy on the campaign trail today. A reporter asked John McCain if he ever Googled Sarah Palin, and McCain said, 'Hey, you take your filthy mouth, and get out of here!"
And the big guns are out. The Democrats have sent Hillary to Florida to go after Sarah Palin. So, that makes two Clintons trying to nail her now.
Even Bill Clinton was impressed. In fact, Clinton said when he saw [Palin's] speech, he said, "Finally, a woman who could be president I'd actually want to have sex with."'
It turns out Sarah Palin, a life-time member of the National Rifle Association, and a firm believer in shotgun weddings.
Did you see Sarah Palin standing next to John McCain at the podium the other day? Didn't it look like one of those commercials where the daughter is trying to find a nice home to put Dad in?
Back in 1984, Sarah Palin finished second in the Miss Alaska pageant. Now she might be the vice president. You know what that means? For the first time in history, a beauty-pageant contestant might actually bring about world peace.
They say Sarah Palin's speech was written by George Bush's speechwriter. Which was great for that guy because he finally got a chance to use some big words.
Dick Cheney told reporters this week there’s no reason why Sarah Palin cannot be a successful vice president in the McCain administration. In fact, not only can she shoot a lawyer in the face, she can field dress him.
All the Republicans are heaping praise on Governor Palin. Fred Thompson said, as an actor, he could see them making a movie about Sarah Palin and her family. Didn't they already make that movie? I think it was called "Knocked Up."
I guess there are some problems with Palin, though. Have you heard about this "Troopergate" scandal? Palin allegedly…used her power as governor to pressure officials to fire her former brother-in-law from his state trooper job. Now, maybe I'm wrong, but wasn’t that an episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard?"
In her speech last night, Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama for giving speeches in front of adoring crowds and standing in front of a stage backdrop. Ironically, Palin did so in front of an adoring crowd standing in front of a stage backdrop.
Well there's a lot of controversy about [Bristol Palin’s pregnancy]. Apparently she told McCain about this weeks ago, but what happened was, I guess she said it into his bad ear. So he didn't realize.
Today President Bush called Gov. Palin and congratulated her. Bush told Palin the job of vice president is very important because as vice president, you get to tell the president what to do.
Democrats are sending an army of lawyers and investigators up to Alaska to look into [Palin's background]. And of course, John McCain is furious. He said, “Hey, if I didn’t look into her background, there’s no reason you should be looking into her background.”
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has many views. She says she's opposed to same-sex marriage. Did you know that? Yeah, Palin says everyone knows marriage isn't for gay people; it's for pregnant teenagers.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail. Today, she attended a rally in Wisconsin. That's right, yeah. The Alaska governor said she was thrilled to visit Wisconsin because she's never been to the deep south.
Oprah Winfrey's in the middle of a big scandal, because she is refusing to have Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on her show. She won't let her on. Yeah. The friction started because Palin said if she's elected, she'll be the most powerful woman in the country. And Oprah said, "The hell you will."
There’s an old picture of Sarah Palin circulating on the Internet right now, and she’s wearing a T-shirt that says, “I may be broke, but I’m not flat busted.” John McCain was upset when he heard this and asked, “What’s the Internet?”
Hey, the Republican Convention is still going wild in scenic St. Paul, Minnesota right now. Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was the star speaker tonight. A lot of excitement. She promised a walrus in every igloo and a whale tooth in every papoose.
Sarah Palin's got a 4-month-old of her own, she's about to become a grandmother and she's partnered with John McCain. How many diapers can one woman possibly change?
I saw that they’re selling Sarah Palin action figures. Sad incident at Toys R Us today — a Sarah Palin doll shot My Little Pony.
Three years ago, Sarah Palin was the mayor of a town with 9,000 people in it. Never mind national security, they barely have mall security in a town of that size.
Some people are saying that McCain picked Sarah Palin to appeal to women who supported Hillary Clinton. This is crazy. You can't just replace Hillary Clinton with another woman. Bill tried that, it didn't work out.
The only other job she had in politics was the mayor of a small town known as Wasilla, Alaska, and now she has the opportunity to be on a ticket opposite of Barack Obama, the first black man she's ever seen.
Are you kidding me, the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska? Yeah, that’s who you want in the White House during a time of crisis. When she got a phone call at 3 in the morning, it was because a moose had gotten in the garbage can.
When they were vetting her for this job, like three seconds ago, she said, quote, I'm not making this up, 'What is it exactly that the VP does every day?' Let me field that for you, Sarah. They start wars, they enrich their friends, they subvert the Constitution, and they shoot people in the face. That's what the vice president does.
[video: McCain saying he will veto all pork-barrel earmark requests. McCain adds that he will 'make them famous and you will know their names']. Yeah, like the wasteful, jackass mayor of an Alaskan town of only 6,000 people who requested 27 million dollars in government earmarks, I will make her famous! Oops!
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.