Well into the Obama administration’s fifth year, comedians are still unable to find White House humor that doesn’t have a punch line named Bush.
There’s nothing like the opening of a Presidential Library to bring out the old jokes. Ever since Bob Hope cracked that Spiro Agnew’s library burned down back in 1969 (losing both books, especially one that hadn’t even been colored in) comedians have been using Library openings to mock the intelligence of Republicans.
So you knew when the George W. Bush library opened last week every hack comedian would have one last chance to get more mileage out of their moth-eaten jokes.
Forget that Bush, who is married to a librarian, is probably more familiar with the workings of a library than any other president. That includes the current one, whose only verifiable visits to his college library were to hang up protest flyers.
On the May 3 edition of The Late Show with David Letterman, Tony winner Nathan Lane dug into the old vaudeville trunk to pull out a string of Bush-era classics for the sake of nostalgia. Perhaps Lane, whose success on Broadway has been almost exclusively via revivals, wants to bring back Will Ferrell’s You’re Welcome, America.
Further evidence that the material was from a different era, Lane closed the set with an ancient Rocky/Henry Kissinger bit that must have gotten stuck to the Bush jokes with a wad of spirit gum.
What is truly comedic, though, is the lengths comedians will go to remain in the political genre without ever touching the current Commander in Chief. President Obama’s conspicuous omission from late night monologues has only been exceeded by his absence on the night of the Benghazi raid.
The only late night jokester to target President Obama with the appropriate vigor has been The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, whose Nielsen-topping performance has earned him a classless exit from the show.