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Unimpeachable Wit

Clinton’s joke writer on the politics of laughter.

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No, he didn’t come up with “that depends on what the meaning of is is,” but writing jokes for Democrats has been Mark Katz’s livelihood from Dukakis ’88 through Monicagate. He recounts his long, hard journey in Clinton & Me: A Real Life Political Comedy.

What was your best Clinton line? “I demand a recount” right after the impeachment vote. He was basically surrendering in the Monica media wars.

The funniest line never used? During the 2000 election, they found Gore’s grades from his junior year of Harvard—C’s and D’s. The joke was “that was also the year that I invented the bong.” He laughed for about five minutes, then said, “I just can’t tell this joke.”

The book makes Gore sound funnier than Clinton. Can it be? Gore has a more natural tendency towards self-effacing humor, in fact a savage streak toward self-deprecation. There were jokes that you could tell Clinton that would make him angry. There was just about no joke in the world that would make Al Gore angry.

What sort of jokes should Bush tell? I’ve got one: “The reason we haven’t found weapons of mass destruction yet is because they destroy things.” Well, it’s my opening bid . . .

Who’s the funniest candidate now? Sharpton, clearly. He’s got the sharpest natural wit.

Kerry? He’s so Lincoln-esque that it’s almost like visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.

Which Dem are you rooting for? I’m listening to all of them right now, not just to learn how to remove this Bush but for a long-term vision for keeping future Bushes out of the White House: Jeb Bush and Neil Bush, the party-girl twins, and all of those hunky little nephews.


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