The Corner

It’s a Red Thing

An e-mail:

I think the joke Laura Bush told has less to do with porn invading the mainstream than it has to do with farm/ranch humor.

I think if you look you’d find variants of this joke in rural humor about as far back as people milked cows.

And another:

Perhaps I am very slow, but I have been telling a true story similar to this about my mother for about 57 years only she was trying to milk a steer. I even told it earlier this year at her funeral and no one ever considered it a masturbation joke. Only people who never milked a cow would think this joke off-color. The joke was that he could not tell a horse from a cow.

and another:

Hi, I appreciate your thoughts on the Laura Bush jokes at the Correspondents Dinner and your willingness to avoid jumping on the prudery bandwagon. But I think you may be missing something important, which is that Laura Bush has spent most of her life in Texas, where cattle and horse jokes are not considered pornographic or even necessarily vulgar. Animal reproduction is a source of both income (I remember getting a lecture on the breeding practices of a $2 million Arabian stud at one person’s farm) and amusement in red states. Farm people or people who grew up around farmers and cattlemen actually seem more comfortable with sexuality because they are around it so much and even rely on it for income.

This is what makes her joke especially funny. She is both mocking the President’s embrace of his “cowboy” side in a way that she might mock a city slicker, and at the same time she’s also subversively speaking in a very specific cultural language that leaves out most of the people at the dinner, so that they don’t even know that they are being made fun of at the same time. Urbanites like Malkin and Bennett just can’t get it and that’s part of the joke as well.

So, in my mind this joke was much funnier than the lame Desperate Housewives crack as she was skewering both the President and the attendees at the same time.

and another:

K-Lo — Farm humor is not coarsening; nor is it appreciated by the coastal elites, most of whom have never been nearer a farm than the Shuckey’s on the Interstate exit. Farm humor isn’t about sex, it’s about life… and life on the farm is far removed from inside the Beltway sensibilities. Between the two, I’ll take the farm as far more sensible. —

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