First Lady Laura Bush Under Fire for Comedy Act

Proving that some people have no sense of humor, First Lady Laura Bush is catching flack from several conservative groups for her remarks at the Correspondents Dinner.

Laura leaves ’em laughing, gasping (Washington Times)

[…] Her scripted “interruption” of the president’s traditional speech — mostly written by Landon Parvin, a longtime comic adviser to presidents back to Ronald Reagan — included such zingers as: “George and I are complete opposites — I’m quiet, he’s talkative; I’m introverted, he’s extroverted; I can pronounce nuclear. …”

Mrs. Bush’s impeccable delivery and timing — at one point, she said her “Aunt Bea”-like mother-in-law is “actually more like … hmm … Don Corleone” — was a surprise to most in the crowd, who have seen the former librarian only stand by her man and smile smartly.


Although Washington’s movers and shakers laughed at Mrs. Bush’s performance, some in the press woke up with a Sunday morning hangover and began to criticize her monologue as immodest at best and downright bawdy at worst. “Laura Bush cracks risque jokes at the White House Correspondents’ dinner,” sniffed Agence France-Presse. CNN reporter Elaine Quijano, who attended the dinner, also apparently had her sensibilities scarred by some of the first lady’s quips. “In some respects, I think for some folks it was a little shocking because she kind of crossed the line a little bit in some people’s minds,” she said. “It was very risque,” the Nation’s David Korn said yesterday on Fox News. “I was wondering what the social conservatives and James Dobson had to say about all these jokes that were laced with sexual innuendo. Not a very family-values-type speech. I’m not sure I want to explain a lot of those jokes to my 4-year-old.”

Eyebrows were raised by the first lady’s bit about the president’s ranching skills, which Mrs. Bush said her husband lacked because the elite schools he attended, Andover and Yale, “don’t have a real strong ranching program.” She then added: “He’s learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What’s worse, it was a male horse.” The crowd howled. The joke, a female Associated Press reporter said, “had women giggling in the bathroom.”

Frankly, I’m guessing even Korn’s 4-year-old is smart enough to get these jokes. And to understand that they’re jokes.

White House Letter: Joke writer to the stars of Washington politics (IHT)

When Laura Bush wise-cracked at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on Saturday night that she was a “desperate housewife” married to a man who was sound asleep by 9 p.m., a slight, worried man stood in the wings hanging on to every line. As well he might, since he had written most of them for the first lady’s inaugural act as a stand-up comic. Judging from the laughter at her words – “George’s answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chain saw, which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well” – Landon Parvin, joke writer to the political stars, could relax.


Playing off “Desperate Housewives,” the racy hit U.S. television show, was a natural, even though Whitson said in a brief interview after the dinner that Bush had never actually seen it. Whitson said the first lady had heard about the characters and plot from her twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, who are fans, and was planning to watch the entire first season on a DVD she has at home.

Amazing. Do people really think they’re sitting around watching sitcoms? These are comedy routines, not anecdotes.

Conservative Christians Not Laughing at First Lady’s Comedy Act (The Swift Report)

The First Lady may have stolen the show with her surprise comedy routine at the 91st White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, but not everyone appreciated her jokes and one-liners poking fun at President Bush. At least one organization of conservative Christians quickly lashed out at Mrs. Bush’s performance, warning that her remarks at the President’s expense were a public refutation of the Biblical command that wives should respect their husbands.

According to an official statement released over the weekend by the Coalition for Traditional Values, an organization that seeks a more flexible relationship between church and state, Mrs. Bush’s jokes at her husband’s expense amounted to a public emasculation of the President. Pastor Roy DeLong, the statement’s author and chair of the group, warns that the First Lady’s performance comes at a time when the Mr. Bush’s “manliness is already under attack.”

Sadly, differentiating satire from reality becomes more difficult every day.

Update (1347): Cam Edwards, who apparently hasn’t seen these stories, writes, “I’ve been saying for some time now that conservatives need to show they have a sense of humor. I think she went a long way towards doing just that.” Heh.

Update (5-3 1129): Michelle Malkin thought, “Most of Mrs. Bush’s humor at the correspondents’ dinner was just right: Edgy but not over the edge. But I think the stripper and horse jokes were totally beneath her.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I didn’t think they were funny: good comedy has an element of truth in it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    “…the Coalition for Traditional Values, an organization that seeks a more flexible relationship between church and state…”

    That’s funny, by the way…

  2. Anderson says:

    Obviously, Laura Bush shouldn’t appear in public without her veil on.

    Sheesh. That she can tease her husband, and that he (evidently) can tolerate it, may be the best thing I’ve heard about either of them.

  3. Rodney Dill says:


    Laura Bush did not even have a natural comedic delivery. Though what I’ve seen of it was hilarious, it was essentially a prepared statement that she read. (Even though read well). This was prepped and reviewed by others, and could even come under the category of Dubya picking on himself, as he or his wirters probably approved all the content.

  4. Rodney Dill says:

    should be writers not wirters, I need writers of my own.

  5. Linda Adams says:

    As an Austin resident who used to see Laura at the grocery store, I know that she’s NOTHING like the image portrayed in the media. I’m so sick of Republicans pretending to be devout. She would have never said those things before the election.

  6. craig henry says:

    That last line—- brilliant.

  7. Michelle M. says:

    Yup, the last line rings more true than you realized. There’s no such thing as the “Coalition for Traditional Values.” It’s a hoax.

  8. Michelle M. says:

    Oh, duh. My bad. You knew that…

  9. schar says:

    George has his schtick, and now Laura has hers…both are scripted by professional GOP writers to get more votes. Neither are original persons but political manniquins dancing for votes from any audience. It’s sad for us all.

  10. Michael says:

    I thought it was hilarious. My GOD some people don’t have a sense of humor.

    I’d be willing to bet the farm that in their private lives, the Bushes are probably hilarious. I’d rather have a beer with one of them than some of the people who’d criticize this.

    Well, except with the twins. I probably couldn’t keep up.

  11. Michael says:


    Whaddya you got against wirters???

  12. Rodney Dill says:

    I got nothing against wirters, they’re not nearly as bad as raeders

  13. Bachbone says:

    Either ‘side’ getting its knickers in a knot over this says more about them than Mrs. Bush.

  14. Cam says:

    Oh, I’ve seen ’em. And for every David Korn that manufacturers outrage, another normal middle-of-the-road person says “I can’t believe that idiot.”

    At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

  15. McGehee says:

    I can’t believe some of the grumps in this thread. And I’m curious what one of ’em up there could possibly know about the Bushes just because she used to see her at the grocery checkout line.

    Omigawd, did Laura Bush actually sometimes glance at the National Enquirer!? [GASP!]

  16. Robin says:

    According to the web site this letter was a hoax and fooled Drudge, MSNBC as well as obviously others.

  17. Stan Smith says:

    Humor is one thing; sleaze is another and does not befit a Christian first lady.

  18. Bithead says:

    Now what motivation would the leftist press have in accentuating the far end’s dissent on this one?

    We wonders, yes, we wonders.

  19. steve says:

    Who the hell wants a vulgar “first lady”!?

  20. mrsfalcon says:

    Heeeheeeeheeee! The swift report was pretty good satire, eh? Does it say anything that so many people across the ideological spectrum thought it was real?

    The American public – more ideological and easier to hack than ever!