The Wit and Wisdom of Don Imus
A guide for Washington's power crowd.
"The guy from F-Troop, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell." (This is a reference to the zany Indian characters on the 1960s TV sitcom F-Troop. They had names like "Roaring Chicken," "Crazy Cat," and "Chief Wild Eagle.")
"I didn't know that Allan Bloom was coming in from the back end." (The homosexuality of the author of The Closing of the American Mind became widely known when Saul Bellow published Ravelstein, a novel whose protagonist was based on Bloom, who by then was deceased.)
"The enormously attractive [NBC political correspondent] Chip Reid, I can say without being accused of being some limp-wristed 'mo."
On the handicapped:
"Janet Reno's having a press conference. Ms. Reno, of course, has Parkinson's disease, has a noticeable tremor. […] I don't know how she gets that lipstick on (laughter) looking like a rodeo clown."
Every one of these statements came directly out of Imus' mouth on his program. That's striking because Imus usually leaves it to other show regulars (especially McGuirk, the aforementioned point man on "nigger" jokes) to say the most offensive stuff, with Imus feeding them straight lines. It's safer that way.
* Correction, April 11, 2007: An earlier version of this column misspelled Colbert's first name and referred erroneously to "Sacha Baron 'Ali G.' Cohen," which suggested the comedian's last name was "Cohen." His last name is "Baron Cohen." Click here to return to the corrected sentence.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Photograph of Don Imus on Slate's home page by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.