Saturday, January 06, 2007

Jokers to the left of me, clowns to the right... This one must be for Honu.

WASHINGTON--Who's funnier, on the whole, liberals or conservatives? It's an old question, but a terrible one. Even to inquire after it reduces the whole curve of human comedy to politics; and besides--sad to contemplate--perhaps the most accurate answer is that they're both humorless. On the liberal side of the register, you can hardly be funny if you're constantly feeling guilty about things; many conservatives meanwhile believe that everything is going to pieces, and there's nothing funny about that.

P.J. O'Rourke, the political satirist, neither hesitates nor hedges. "Conservatives generally tend to be funnier in their private lives," he explains, "because of the hypocrisy factor. I am of course a big fan of hypocrisy, because hypocrites at least know the difference between right and wrong--at any rate, know enough to lie about what they're doing. Liberals are not nearly as hypocritical as conservatives, because they don't know the difference between right and wrong. But anyways the personal lives of conservatives tend to be funnier: They've always got the embarrassing gay daughter, and so on."

In public policy, Mr. O'Rourke claims, "liberals are always much more hilarious. Liberals are always proposing perfectly insane ideas, laws that will make everybody happy, laws that will make everything right, make us live forever, and all be rich. Conservatives are never that stupid. Having conservatives in government is like having a stern talk with your dad in the den about what your allowance will be. . . . Of course, the Republicans always end up giving in: You know, giving you more money than you should have in your pocket, and the keys to the car, and then also a bottle of whiskey."

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