Bob Franken




One of my favorite recurring TV gags comes from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” It always cracked me up when Carson would be talking about such and such and so-and-so, and would say something like, “You wouldn’t believe how bad it was!” His faithful straight man Ed McMahon could always be counted on to ask, “How bad was it?” Carson would invariably respond with something monumentally silly, like “It was so bad that Ed Sullivan tried to smile and he threw up.”
Stupid, I know, but then I’ve always had a low threshold for humor. I’ve also never had an original thought in my life, so out of desperation I’ll go with that one.
Straight man: How bad is the trouble that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in?
Comedian: It’s so bad — he’s in such deep doo doo — that when he was asked whether he’d resign, he retorted, “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth.”
It must have galled the Democratic Cuomo to no end that he was stealing the Republicans’ “cancel culture” as his justification to stay on. (Although I, too, plagiarized George H.W. Bush’s “deep doo doo”). But then that splashing sound you hear is Cuomo’s fellow party members jumping off the USS Andy, sinking because it is being weighed down by all the women charging him with sexual harassment or worse.
Among those going overboard are the state’s two U.S. senators. Chuck Schumer is the Senate majority leader (barely) and Kirsten Gillibrand is best known for knifing Sen. Al Franken in the back, causing him to resign for his own sexual harassment issues way before he should have. Oh, did I mention that Al and I are distant cousins? Is it obvious when I’m discussing Gillibrand?
Here’s another for you:
Straight man: How bad off is Donald Trump without Twitter?
Comedian: He’s so bad off that he tried to horn in on Joe Biden’s first victory.

Biden, who has decades of experience with Congress, was able to maneuver the pitfalls of a razor-thin majority and get a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief measure passed, while Republicans could only sputter. President Trump was never able to overcome his total lack of knowledge of the legislative process, even to read My Weekly Reader’s “How a Bill Becomes Law.” So he was no match for the Democratic dinosaurs on Capitol Hill. About his only success WAS when he incited his followers to invade the Capitol building.
But when President Biden, just seven weeks after inauguration, was able to use his experience to pull off his triumph, Trump wanted a piece of the action.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,” he said in a statement “I hope everyone remembers!”
He couldn’t resist calling it the “China Virus” in spite of the fact that his stated bigotry has caused attacks on Asian-Americans because, well, a few Americans always seem to like hating someone.
Notwithstanding that, his administration’s collaboration with private pharmacy corporations and bureaucrats did create a remarkable vaccine in about a year, as opposed to the three to five years it usually takes. No doubt about it. What did the country in, with tragic results, was the handling of nearly every other facet of this public health crisis by his people and on his whims, with a predictably disastrous outcome.
So even as we start to dig our way out of the mess we return to:
Straight man: How bad was this?
Comedian: Well, at more than half a million deaths, most of which could have been avoided if providers had the equipment and facilities they needed, it couldn’t have been worse.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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