He Just Flew in From the White House and, Boy, Are His Arms Tired

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bidenJoe Biden learned an important lesson this week—nix the jokes. He was trying to make a funny when, after asking to peep the oath of office, he said, “My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts’.” Snap.

You’ll remember that Justice Roberts flubbed the word “faithfully” when oathing Obama at last week’s inauguration, forcing the Prez to hold a whole new swearing in ceremony to legally take office. Lame, yes, but Biden got such a negative reaction to the wannabe knee slapper, that he had to officially apologize. Doh.

Below, some other examples of political jokers gone bust:

  • Assassination is never funny. Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was never much for words. At an NRA convention last May, a loud thud interrupted his speech. “That was Barack Obama,” he said. “He just tripped off a chair. He was getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him, and he dove for the floor.” Um, huh?
  • Weapons of mass destruction humor. In 2004, at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in DC, George W. showed a slideshow of photos of himself at the White House. One pictured him looking under a chair in the Oval Office. “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,” he joked. People laughed at the time, but for weeks, Democrats blasted him. Pun intended.
  • Don’t offend West Virginia. Last June, Dick Cheney was explaining his family tree. “I had Cheneys on both sides of the family,” he said. “And we don’t even live in West Virginia.” Cue uproar from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd and other high profile politicos.
  • Make sure your mic is off. Back in 1984, Ronald Reagan was doing a microphone check for a radio show. “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes,” he said. Only, the red light was on and the interview was already being broadcast. Oops.
  • Democrats make jokes, too. During his presidency, Jimmy Carter was giving a speech to a group of Japanese businessman and opened with a mediocre joke. The translator related the story surprisingly quickly and the auditorium erupted in laughter. After the talk, Carter asked the translator how the joke converted to Japanese. The translator said, “I told them, ‘President Carter has told a very funny joke. Please laugh now.'” 
  • Finally, an actual good one. In 1920, then vice president Calvin Coolidge, who’d earned the nickname “Silent Cal,” was reportedly seated next to Dorothy Parker at a dinner party. “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” Coolidge, kept eating and said, “You lose.” Fine, that one was pretty funny.

*****

By the Numbers:

2 = number of words the reticent Calvin Coolidge was rarely thought to say more than

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