Howling Dog Graphic
Point. Click. Search.

Contents: Archives:

Search this weblog
Search WWW
Howler Graphic
by Bob Somerby
E-mail This Page
Socrates Reads Graphic
A companion site.

Site maintained by Allegro Web Communications, comments to Marc.

Howler title Graphic
Caveat lector

27 April 1998

Smile-a-while: Quick takes

Synopsis: Maureen Dowd made up some Viagra jokes. The whole gang at This Week was watching.

Commentary by Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, William Kristol
This Week,ABC, 4/26/98

Father’s Little Helper
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times,4/26/98

If you’re like us, you often have wondered where the Sunday pundits manage to get those marvelous jokes--those clever sallies they skillfully use to liven their policy chit-chat.

Well, now we know where they get their jokes--they stealtheir jokes, from Maureen Dowd! We learned this Sunday, watching the fun on This Week with Sam and Cokie.

Dowd had written a piece on the Viagra craze for her twice-weekly column in the New York Times. Aoepparently we weren’t the only one reading Dowd’s thoughts on the touchy new topic. Because, a little bit later on Sunday morning, when the This Week gang started theirViagra chat, viewers were treated to an unattributed reprise of almost everything the Times sage had said!

First out of the gate was co-host Sam Donaldson, who immediately engaged Cokie Roberts:

DONALDSON: Truth in advertising--do you own any stock in Pfizer Company?

ROBERTS: No, I don’t own any stock in Pfizer Company...although I wish I did because the stock has gone up dramatically.

And it happened to have been the very first point that Dowd had made in her column! Her first sentence in the Times had read:

DOWD: It is a sign of the times that the only thing American men are more obsessed with than Viagra is why they didn’t buy stock in Viagra.

Emboldened, Cokie plowed on:

SAM: This is the potency pill, right?

COKIE: It is. This is the pill that they’ve now had to put messages on doctors’ answering machines saying, “Press 3 for Viagra.”

Dowd had offered the same quip, almost precisely word-for-word, in paragraph seven of her report!

Soon, the pundits were off to the races. Just fifteen seconds after Cokie’s comment, William Kristol offered this:

KRISTOL: ...Women I’ve talked to say the problem with men is not one hour beforesex--it’s one hour aftersex! And as someone said, they want a pill that will not improve men’s performance one hour before sexual activity, but a pill that will change men’s character one hour after sexual activity.

And the pundits roared. Of course, so had Dowd’s readers:

DOWD: An unscientific poll of my girlfriends found that they would rather have a pill that could change a man’s personality an hour aftersex. A pill that insures that he always calls the next day and never gets spooked.

After George Will tried to calm things down with what he called “a mildly serious point,” Kristol threw in one more plainly purloined Dowd joke, about how they ought to market an antidoteto Viagra, for worried wives and girl friends!

In the course of three minutes (with time lost to George Will), the funsters had managed to swipe four jokes that Dowd had used in that morning’s column! And, as if to show off their quick-study skills, they had even presented the four purloined quips in the same order they’d appeared in Dowd’s column!

If we had one complaint with the pundits’ presentation, it would be that they didn’t work in Dowd’s best joke of the day:

DOWD: Meanwhile, the only serious side effect for Viagra seem to be the cramps urologists have developed from writing so many prescriptions.

But then, when potent pundits get only three minutes per topic, I guess it’s silly to think they could ever work in their full catalog of quips, jests, and sallies.

One last question that came to mind, as we sat and watched the light-fingered fun: Hey, if pundits get their jokes from Maureen Dowd, where do they get their serious comments? Because, you know what? Sometimes when they offer their serious comments, we get the feeling we’ve heard thema million times before, too...

But then, as we’ve so often told our bemused, loyal readers--it’s all just a part of what wedolove to call: “Life in this celebrity press corps.”