Today's New York Times carried a story about Al Gore's "Catskill routine," which he performed before the Anti-Defamation League in Washington yesterday. As the Times story noted, the vice president is a "notably unethnic, Southern Baptist" man. But there he was, doing his best Jackie Mason, riffing on the latest Nashville phenomenon--Jewish country and western music:
No. 4 on the hit list, he said, was this: "I Was One of the Chosen People--Until She Chose Somebody Else." No. 3: "The Second Time She Said 'Shalom,' I Knew She Meant Goodbye." No. 2: "I've Got My Foot on the Glass, Now Where Are You?"
And No. 1, which the vice president sang with a soft lilt and a twang: "Mommas, Don't Let Your Ungrateful Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys When They Could Very Easily Just Have Taken Over the Family Business That My Own Grandfather Broke His Back to Start and My Father Sweated Over for Years, Which Apparently Doesn't Mean Anything Now That You're Turning Your Back on Such a Gift."
As everybody knows, most politicians don't write their own material. What does surprise is that Gore stole the jokes. According to the proprietors of the humor site TopFive.com, all the song titles come from a list of "Jewish Country & Western Songs" posted on Feb. 24, 1999. Gore's jokes came from the runner-up submissions, not the Top 13, which includes such memorable titles as "All My Exes Made an Exodus," "The Shiksa's Gonna Hit the Fan," and "I've Starved and I've Suffered and I've Parted the Sea Just to Find That Your Bush Wasn't Burnin' For Me."
This isn't the first time Gore has pilfered material from TopFive.com. On Nov. 1, 1999, New York's Daily News reported that Gore used the same "Mamas Don't Let Your Ungrateful Sons ..." joke at New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz's birthday party.
Gore freely admits that he's made the jokes a part of his permanent routine. "The vice president has repeated these jokes for more than a year. The jokes, it's my understanding, have been circulating for ages," Gore spokeswoman Melissa Ratcliff said. "He has repeated them because he thinks they're funny. He's gotten a good response when he's used the jokes. I think he'll keep using them."
TopFive.com Editor Chris White is flattered that the Veep ripped him and his fellow writers off. "If it were a Republican candidate using our material, I might not be as forgiving," White said. "If it were Bush, I would be more likely to insist that he either stop doing it or give us credit."
This is the second time jokes from TopFive.com have made the pages of the No. 1 paper. In November 1998, the Times reported with a straight face about the liberties the Chinese movie industry takes when it re-titles American movies. Pamela Anderson Lee's Barb Wire became Delicate Orbs of Womanhood Bigger Than Your Head Can Hurt You. George of the Jungle became Big Dumb Monkey Man Keeps Whacking Tree With Genitals. And Batman and Robin turned into Come to My Cave and Wear this Rubber Codpiece, Cute Boy.
The joke was on the Times. TopFive.com posted the parody titles in August 1997.