GQ, We’re Not Laughing With You, But At You

Charlotte Hays
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Posted: Dec 19, 2014 12:01 AM
GQ, We’re Not Laughing With You, But At You

When GQ’s new issue with “America’s 20 Craziest Politicians” hit the newsstands, so to speak, you didn’t even have to count to know that Republicans would outnumber Democrats. To be exact, there were only three crazy Democrats, compared to seventeen (more than five times more) crazy Republicans.

The trio of lucky Democrats who made the crazy list (Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, and some obscure Georgia congressman named Hank Johnson) are of course richly deserving of the accolade. The first two almost have to be on any crazy list if that list retains even a modicum of credibility.

But I am not buying list compiler Stephen Sherrill’s assertion that the paucity of Democrats on the list is because “Democrats just aren't keeping pace right now in the crazy department.” C’mon.

Seriously, the eminently quotable DNC head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t rate? And what about also quotable multimillionaire Congressman Alan Grayson, who once said he has trouble understanding Dick Cheney because of the blood dripping from Mr. Cheney’s mouth and whose estranged wife is on food stamps (because, hey, Grayson charges the missus is a bigamist—long story)? He may have gotten himself booted from one Florida district, but he is back in Congress representing another! And who doesn’t love stolid Rep. Elijah Cummings, who averred during a Benghazi hearing that “death is a party of life?” Yeah, especially if your government leaves you stranded in Libya during a bad movie review.

To counter the crazy notion that Mr. Sherrill averted his eyes from the nutso antics of Democrats, he cites members of that party who made the cut in previous years, but they are from way back on Memory Land: former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who went to jail back when hope and change were bright and shiny, and erstwhile KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, last heard of when he ran for governor of Louisiana against Edwin Edwards in 1991. What no Wilbur Mills? Tweeting former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, who left office in 2011, is the most recent. But all these people belong to the Biden-Jackson-Lee school of crazy: you just can’t do bonkers without them. Assuming you remember anybody besides Weiner.

Mr. Sherrill, who seems to live in the past, condescendingly introduces the story with words and a tone that could have come straight out of the 1960s (minus the Muslims):

How do you feel about facts? Do you hate them? Are they super annoying, like science? Are you frightened of communists, Muslims, and vaginas? Good news! This month, America is inaugurating a new class of elected representatives, and while some of them are bright, able politicians, a few of them are seriously looney. And they'll be in good company.

Speaking of vaginas (or related parts of the female anatomy), why didn’t outgoing Colorado Senator Mark “Uterus” Udall’s bizarre campaign net him a place on the list? Oh, right—he’s not a science-hating, Muslim-fearing Republican. What do you bet an editor spent hours arguing to get some “balance” into the list by sticking in that bit about how some of the new solons may be “bright, able politicians?”

Tellingly, one of the most talented of the new crop of GOP senators, Joni Ernst of Iowa, does make it onto GQ’s list. The “fun fact” about Ernst is that she “grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm.” This is a biographical detail Ernst emphasized in her successful campaign. Why is Ernst, who is also mocked for having a gun (another plus in her campaign), crazier than losing senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, the ditzy Kentucky Democrat who came up with ingenious constitutional prerogatives to explain why she couldn’t say she voted for President Obama?

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas made the list, and GQ dug into the past to recall that in 1996, when Gohmert was a state district judge in Texas, he ordered a man who had HIV to get informed consent from any future sexual partners. Okay, I concede that there may have been enforcement problems. But—really—wouldn’t you be glad of an opportunity to factor in his HIV status before popping into bed with such a fella?

If you thought Mr. Sherrill let slide a chance to take a dig at the endlessly fascinating (to liberals) Sarah Palin, who last ran for office in 2008, you’d be underestimating his rapier-like wit. Ted Cruz is “Sarah Palin if one of the five colleges she attended had been Princeton.” (Actually, that’s semi-funny.) Nor did he forget retiring Rep. Michele Bachman! Joni Ernst is side-splittingly described as “Michele Bachmann with a more sensible haircut.” The artwork shows Ernst as a Disney character with a gun.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Steve King of Iowa also won a place on the list, but GQ had to get to 20 by padding with politicians you’ve never heard of, including several who are still pursuing their careers at the state-house level. Ever heard of Jody Hice, Baptist pastor and former radio talk show host who is member-elect to Georgia’s tenth congressional district? Thought not. Ditto Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingerschmitt, who performed an exorcism. As for Joe Biden, he rates only one line: “Crazy enough to run again for president!” I can think of other reasons.

The Obama administration, which is fraught with comic possibilities, is apparently off limits to liberal funny people. Jon Stewart and SNL occasionally make jokes about the Obama administration, and, when they do, they likely get an uptick in viewers. SNL, which, alas, hasn’t been funny for years, got tremendous attention with its recent School House Rock parody that made fun of President Obama’s immigration executive order. But you have to be supremely confident to make fun of Democrats and the second tier (or third or fourth) isn’t that confident.

A famous Reader’s Digest feature describes laughter as “the best medicine.” But that isn't all. Laughter is also a damned good political weapon. Liberals know that satire, from ancient times to today, can be deadly in the political arena. Good comedy also requires looking at the truth—which is why the SNL “how a bill becomes a law” skit was genuinely funny. But mostly liberals won’t do much of this, preferring instead hackneyed jokes about obscure or outdated Republicans.

That is why liberal humor is so stale.

GQ, we aren’t laughing with you.

We’re laughing at you.