Tags: Far | Dubya's | Joke

So Far, Dubya's No Joke

Monday, 23 April 2001 12:00 AM

In fact, the comics miss Bill Clinton so much that they're still telling more Clinton jokes than Bush jokes – 368 to 238 so far this year – and even when they start a joke on Bush, they sometimes drag in Clinton for the punch line.

Take Jay Leno's joke about how aides called Bush at 5:30 a.m. to tell him the China plane standoff was over: "Thank God Bush is president. Imagine trying to find Bill Clinton at 5:30 in the morning. We'd be calling every Holiday Inn."

By contrast, when Clinton took over from Bush's dad in 1993, the elder Bush instantly slid to near-zero on the joke-o-meter, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, which tracks such things.

Of course, Clinton is still very much in the news thanks to Pardongate, which fuels jokes.

And there is a new sitcom aimed right at Bush, Comedy Central's "That's My Bush." Its audience is good for cable, but it isn't taking off. In fact, viewership slid over the first three weeks from 2.9 million to 1.7 million.

In any case, it's a lot harder now to get laughs by painting Dubya as dumb – the comics' pet schtick on him – when his first 100 days are going pretty well and his poll ratings are 2-1 favorable. Day 100 is next Sunday.

"It's as good a 100 days as we've had in a long time," says presidential scholar Charles Jones, former head of the American Political Science Association, who gives Bush a B-plus and gave Clinton's chaotic early days a D.

Bush's biggest blunder, as his own aides admit, was to come across as an advocate of arsenic in drinking water. No wonder the White House is now in all-out damage-control mode on the environmental front.

But in his first big test overseas, Bush seemed steady in the China plane standoff and got a big boost when the crew was freed.

On policy, Bush is more conservative than Clinton on just about everything, from abortion to the budget. But the change in personal style is just as dramatic.

Clinton loved the limelight, and he adored being a pop celebrity. Whenever America felt sorrow or joy, he wanted to be there in the spotlight.

Bush doesn't seek that role. He rarely talks about his personal life. When the spy-plane crew was freed by China, he deliberately stayed away so he wouldn't upstage them.

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In fact, the comics miss Bill Clinton so much that they're still telling more Clinton jokes than Bush jokes - 368 to 238 so far this year - and even when they start a joke on Bush, they sometimes drag in Clinton for the punch line. Take Jay Leno's joke about how aides...
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Monday, 23 April 2001 12:00 AM
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