Opinion » Bill Cope

Cheap Joke

The burlesque of "She Who Will Not Be Named"


I had a heck of a time with this column. I'd gotten off to a good start, I thought. But then I think, Bill, you have a young daughter. Can't you sympathize with a mother's outrage? Even if she's flashing it around like borrowed clothes? And besides, should you really be calling her cheap? After all, she is the governor of a whole state.

So, as a result of not quite having the nerve to come right out and say what a tacky number I think my subject matter is, I stopped work on it and set about to find other subject matter.

But I couldn't get the affair out of my mind. First of all, I enjoy and admire David Letterman. A lot more than I ever will her, that's for damn sure. Secondly, most of us knew exactly which daughter Dave was joking about, regardless of whichever one of Wasilla's princesses went to the ball game that day. And lastly, it was a joke about something that certainly isn't beyond conceivability, considering the daughter everyone knew he was joking about (everyone but the governor and her ski-doo dude, evidently) had already demonstrated a proclivity for ... well ... let us call it, "conceivability."

So upon further consideration, I thought Bill, so what if she's a governor? It's not like a governor can't be a pretentious, over-reaching phony. Remember Dirk? And besides, maybe it'd be different if she were governor of one of the real states. But it's only Alaska. That's more like being the Duke of Earl, isn't it?

I'd already come up with a good title--"Top 10 Reasons It's Not David Letterman's Fault Everything About S**** P**** Is A Cheap F***ing Joke." But then another thought occurred to me: Bill, maybe it would be better if you just dropped her name completely and pretended you were writing about an archetypal representation of what you consider her to be.

That made sense. Believe it or not, there are still people in America who don't see her as a pretentious, over-reaching phony. And I thought if I kept it hazy as to exactly whom I'm talking about, maybe they won't get all outraged and indignant and accuse me of siding with a creepy old pervert comedian who made a knock-knock joke about a girl who, not six months ago, became a single mother, then went on a television tour to promote abstinence. After all, irony isn't something these people are very good at.

And to be doubly on the safe side, I decided I should begin the column with a warning to all of those who might be offended by whatever I might come up with, were I to continue with this column. And to prove that I truly did have their delicate sensibilities at heart, I will include that warning now. Here. Before I actually decide whether I'm going to continue with this column, or go to something safer.

Warning: Any person depicted in the following column is an archetypal representation, pieced together from the rich history of behavior that has been observed in select areas of America, including--but not exclusive to--trailer parks, Florida, seedy saloons, Pentecostal churches that congregate in the minister's basement, gun shows, Hee Haw, "hollers" where hillbillies are known to gather, Reno, Erskine Caldwell novels, truck stops and, of course, Alaska. Any resemblance between this imaginary character and any real person is purely coincidental.

Furthermore, the column may contain strong language (possibly including--but not exclusive to--"white trash," "bimbo" and "a Juneau lounge lizard's fantasy"), nudity (in that the pretensions of a hypothetical over-reaching phony may be laid bare) and violence (being the logical extension of rabble-rousing rhetoric from the sort of stereotypical demagogues who all too often rise from the background described previously in this warning) and on the whole, it may not be suitable for all members of the Republican base.

So there, I thought I was good to go. I'd been sensitive enough to include a warning, I'd been sensitive enough to disguise any direct references to the pretentious, over-reaching phony in question, and I'd been sensitive enough to change the title so that it no longer contained either "S**** P****" or "f***ing." Then that darn Dave apologizes.

I didn't think he should have. If anything, he should have said, "Look folks, I'm deeply sorry that many of you are so damn dumb you didn't understand which daughter I was joking about. But if the governor wants to continue to drag her kids into her never-ending scramble for media attention and political advantage, more power to her. After all, she doesn't have much else on her mind to talk about, does she? If you don't believe me, ask Katie Couric."

But he didn't say that. He flat-out apologized, said it was a bad joke, and did the prudent thing. So then I thought, Bill, if Letterman is willing to acknowledge he'd made a mistake, shouldn't you just butt out?

That's right, I was ready to throw away everything I'd done and go write about something else. It was discouraging, that a man of Letterman's intellect and talent could go groveling to the Queen of the Hickabillies. Yet in a sense, it was typical of the way our good people defer to these mouthy yahoos, isn't it? I mean, they can go on and on about abortion doctors or affirmative action judges or Muslim presidents, and they're never brought to account, even when one of their number decides to lone-wolf it into a murder.

But when one of us makes one little joke about their precious little GED darlins? ... well ... ask Dave Letterman what happens.

So yeah, I gave this column up for a dead end. Then the governor issues her acceptance of Dave's apology: "I accept on behalf of all young women... who hope men who joke about ... sexual exploitation will soon evolve."

Whoa! Hold on there! Excuse me!? She isn't accepting Dave's apology on behalf of any young women I know. All the women I know--young, old or in the middle--consider her an embarrassment to the gender. All the women I know wouldn't want this floozy speaking for them if their tongues had dropped off. All the women I know got the joke.

Besides, I can't think of a public figure outside the porn biz who has exploited sexuality any more than this Betty Boop knock-off, can you? Were it not for the high heels and flirty winks, she'd be back in Wasilla stewing up a moose.

So in the end, I thought, Bill, you started this ... so finish it. So I did. And if any of you now have the urge to picket Boise Weekly to get me fired, feel free. I'm always on the lookout for fresh subject matter.