- The Washington Times - Monday, November 20, 2000

NEW YORK George W. Bush and Al Gore may not be laughing. But that hasn't stopped comedians from mining the presidential turmoil.

Election humor is spreading on the Internet. One popular cartoon being circulated shows a sample Florida paper ballot with a straight line from Mr. Bush's name to a hole that needs to be punched. The lines for Mr. Gore, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan take you on a maze-like journey.

Another popular Palm Beach County, Fla., mock ballot offers voters several choices under the name of each candidate, always ending with second and third chances to mark the ballot for Mr. Gore, "since we know this is what you really intended to do."

One joke making the rounds on the Internet has Britain declaring a "Notice of Revocation of Independence," saying Queen Elizabeth II will assume monarchical duties over the states. "Except Utah, which she does not fancy."

Television itself has taken a few comedians' barbs. On "Saturday Night Live," a "special report" with an actor playing NBC's Tom Brokaw featured two false starts, a subtle reference to the TV networks' two election-night calls prematurely declaring a Florida winner.

On "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend, a Bush impersonator declared himself president, undeterred by Mr. Gore and his collection of Ninja-fighting Florida state Supreme Court justices.

"I am victorian!" comedian Will Ferrell said, spoofing Mr. Bush's tendency toward malapropisms and mangled syntax.

The show's opening segment climaxed with Mr. Ferrell and Gore impersonator Darrell Hammond singing their own version of "I Got You, Babe."

"So let them say I was a boozer," Mr. Ferrell's Bush sang, "at least I'm not a stinkin' sore loser."

A week earlier, the show was rewarded with its highest ratings since February 1998, and producers believe that was because of the election humor.

David Letterman struck his own blow on Friday as he declared the race in Florida a tie 3 million for Mr. Bush, 3 million for Mr. Gore, and "those are just the lawyers."

"Every big-shot lawyer in the United States is now in Florida," he said, "so here's what happens: If we were to have a hurricane, God forbid we had a hurricane, this whole thing could still have a happy ending."

His late-night rival, Jay Leno, said the election has proven one thing: "Your vote counts and it counts over and over and over."

"Actually, I feel sorry for some of those people down in Florida," Mr. Leno said. "You move down there for the arthritis and then they make you count ballots by hand."

Comedy Central's Jon Stewart also took aim at Florida's senior-citizen population.

"In Washington, the Gores and Liebermans made another public appearance, this time at an area restaurant," Mr. Stewart said. "As a sign of solidarity with Florida voters, Gore showed up at 4 p.m., demanded his out-of-date coupon be honored, then took a fall in the bathroom."

The election uncertainty is a problem of sorts for "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They're committed to producing a sitcom for Comedy Central, "Family First," that revolves around the life of the new president's family. It's scheduled to begin Feb. 28 and they still don't know who the president will be.

"We're actually thinking about changing the title of the show to 'He's Kinda President,' " Mr. Parker said.

NBC's Conan O'Brien said the Fox network, which beat its rivals in incorrectly declaring Florida for Mr. Bush, was considering a new slogan: "We get it wrong first."

And on "Politically Incorrect," host Bill Maher read a new seasonal piece: "How the Grinch Stole the Election."

"Election Day came and the voting was close. At one point, the Grinch even started to boast," Mr. Maher said. " 'It's the Grinch by a nose,' all the newsmen exclaimed. Even Dan Rather, who was clearly insane."

One of Mr. Letterman's "top 10" lists last week, titled "Dumb Guy Ways to Solve Presidential Election Confusion," had a top selection that could read as a comedians' thank-you note. "Solve it?" Mr. Letterman asked. "Are you nuts? This is great!"

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