No, Ryan Isn't Really Calling Romney "Stench"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 26 2012 12:37 PM

No, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney Haven't Resorted To Calling Each Other Nasty Names

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Mitt Romney (R) and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L), share a moment during a campaign rally September 25, 2012 at Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Politico's chief political columnist Roger Simon had a little fun with his column last night, writing that the two men on the GOP's presidential ticket had resorted to calling each other nasty names.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Paul Ryan, Simon wrote, was calling Mitt Romney "Stench" in reference to what the Wisconsin Republican would have to wash off of himself if he hopes to one day run atop the GOP ticket. Romney and his close friends, meanwhile, had returned fire by dubbing Ryan "Gilligan," in an apparent reference to the bumbling crewman from Gilligan's Island.

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The less-than-flattering nicknames were quickly picked up by MSNBC, the New York Times' Paul Krugman and a number of others, and reported as fact. The only problem, of course, is that the column was a satire. How do we know? (Other than by reading it in full.) We asked Simon. His emailed response: "I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought."

Here's the paragraph he's talking about, which comes in the second half (and on the second page) of the online column:

"A word about PowerPoint. PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 as a way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting them over the head with iron mallets. After PETA successfully argued in court that PowerPoint actually was more cruel than iron mallets, the program was adopted by corporations for slide show presentations."

So to recap, No, Romney and Ryan's relationship hasn't disintegrated to the point where they're lobbing mean names back and forth. Also: It never hurts to read a story until the end.

[Update: It looks like Simon also provided clarification to BuzzFeed, which now has a list of those media outlets who failed to get the joke.]

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