Gotcha! Leno Told Statutory Rape Joke, Too!


There’s a new, inevitable twist in the David Letterman-Gate joke scandalAlan Colmes notes that Dave’s late-night rival, Jay Leno, told his own underage Palin daughter sex joke during the campaign: (h/t HuffPo)

On September 2, during the presidentia campaingn, Jay Leno told this joke:

“Gov. Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. And you thought John Edwards was in trouble before! Now he has really done it.” — “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Both Colmes and HuffPo wonder if there’s some kind of double-standard being applied here.  The answer to that is yes.  And no.  Or, “We’ll see.”

Let me start by saying that “double standard” arguments don’t impress me.  Left or right, deal with your own dirt.  Pointing the finger at what the other guy did just says that you need your opponent to set your own moral compass.

Now, as I’ve said before, hanging Letterman’s words on the left is a huge reach, as is hanging Leno’s on the right.  That said, let’s examine the comparison anyway.

The jokes themselves are, indeed, similar.  While the construction of Letterman’s joke was more crass, they both cross the same line.  Although Letterman doesn’t cop to the mistake being his own fault, he clearly thought he was making a joke about Bristol, not Willow.  In the details, each joke has its own distinct flavor of bile.

Colmes wonders “why did Jay Leno’s joke go by largely unnoticed, while Sarah Palin is doing a national publicity tour denouncing David Letterman?”

The answer is that it shouldn’t have, but here’s why it did.  Leno’s joke came amid a hurricane of coverage of Sarah Palin and her family.  There were lots of bigger fish in the frying pan, both substantive and not .  This joke should have stood out, and If I had heard it, I would have been all over it.

So, the Leno joke slipped by.  I guess we’ll see, now, if there’s a double-standard being applied, since Leno’s joke is now being placed in context with Letterman’s.  Meghan McCain, in her excoriation of Letterman, had this to say of Leno:

During the election, one of the things I never got over being shocked by was the sexism the media held toward my mother and Sarah. I recently read an interview in GQ magazine with Jay Leno where he credited some of his success to never letting the public know where his politics lay. I have always respected that about Jay Leno. I have absolutely no idea how he feels about Sarah Palin or President Obama personally, and at the end of the day I don’t care. He was always respectful toward me and my family even in the jokes (and he has in the past directed some at me personally during his monologue).

Now that Leno’s joke has been brought to light, I wonder if it will change her opinion of Leno, or Letterman, for that matter.  I’ve also often wondered what Meg said to her dad when she found out about his Chelsea Clinton joke, another item that’s been coming up lately.

It makes little difference to me.  I don’t need “the right” to tell me Letterman was wrong, and the fact that Leno did pretty much the same thing doesn’t lessen the offense one bit.  I also don’t need the Leno example to know that the reaction of some on the right is an overreach.

There’s also the matter of the left trying to deflect Letterman’s issue with old Chelsea Clinton jokes.  Again, no sale, as this only serves to enhance the false notion that David Letterman is somehow representative of liberal political thought.

So, what happens to Letterman?  Well, my friend John Ziegler is involved in an effort to have Dave fired.  I don’t think that’s going to happen, nor do I think it should.  John equates this to the Don Imus firing, and I agree that Letterman’s offense is at least as great.  I just don’t think Imus should have been fired, either.  I think firing, in both cases, shifts public attention away from the central issue and onto the firings.

A better move would be for Sarah Palin to accept Letterman’s invitation, on one condition.  Sarah Palin appears on The Late Show as guest host, and Letterman takes the night off.  Then, Palin can spend that hour however she wants, including trying to explain how the media ought to treat women.  Hell, I would definitely watch that.

Speaking of Ziegler, as I was going through my old Palin articles, I found something I wrote on the very day that her nomination was announced that I think John would get a big kick out of:

(T)he Brian Williams’ and Katie Courics of the world will play a big part in how well this works. Let’s see which side of the bed they woke up on this morning.


  1. Dear FCC, Comedy God (Tommy),

    I see you are ready to joust with the comedy windmill oh great moral arbiter of that which is moral in the land of late night comedy and all that is funny. Maybe I should start with something easy. Like Bristol Palin.

    Jay and Dave. The pro-staturtory rapists! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH Like that’s their intent or your comedy analysis ought be listened to. Why? Who died and left you Captain of the Secret Comedy Police?

    There are better jokes to be made with consenting minors in Iran anyhow.

  2. There is one other difference between Leno’s joke and Letterman’s. Leno was commenting on something that had *already* happened (Bristol was already pregnant). He wasn’t making a joke about the behaviour of the girls in question, the potential impregnation of one of them, nor the statutory rape of them.

    That being said, I think Leno’s joke was in bad taste too, but I don’t think it reaches Letterman’s level.

  3. ‘Colmes wonders “why did Jay Leno’s joke go by largely unnoticed, while Sarah Palin is doing a national publicity tour denouncing David Letterman?”’

    Alan Colmes is an idiot. A “national publicity tour”? Was Sarah Palin on Oprah or The View complaining about Letterman? She issued a statement, which is understandable afther the “joke” about her daughter. But she was asked about it in other interviews in which other subjects were discussed.

    But were talking Palin here, so everything she does, even if it is standard behavior by any politician is unusual for some reason. She can’t go to a baseball game with her family because that is “putting then on the spotlight” and so she is making them “a target”. Give me a break….

  4. This has got to be the biggest brouhaha over nothing. It was a JOKE!! Lame and tasteless–maybe, but a joke nonetheless. Dave was NOT talking about Palin’s minor daughter. And the A-Rod joke IS more of a slam at A-Rod himself.

    Dave’s non-apology apology was brilliant in its wittiness, I appreciate that. Palin should have tried to at least return the dig.

    What I am more outraged at is Palin’s false indignation over this whole goddamn thing. The woman parades her then 17 year-old, unmarried, pregnant, Christian daughter on to the stage of the RNC for all the world, and the MSM, to see and scrutinize–then when they do scrutinize her, she and the entire RR of the GOP cry foul! Well, I am fucking sorry–but any mother who would do that to her own daughter in order to further her own career, deserves the treatment she gets. As a parent myself, I got rules, and one of them is ‘First do no harm’, and if that means sacrificing or even just postponing my career advancement for the good of my kids–that’s what I am gonna do, because I owe my kids that. And by the way, I did DO that.

    Furthermore, the woman used every ounce of her femininity during the campaign, and there is only one reason a woman does that–because she knows that sex sells and she had better pander to the men if she wants to get their votes. Hell, the whole GOP knows that trick–why else did they spend all the fucking money on her clothes and make-up.

    Palin has bought into the whole GOP’s belief that she is the future of their party, and she needs to keep her name out there, and THAT boys and girls is why she is making so much out of this bullshit situation.

    And, Tommy, I know Ziegler is your friend–but he’s still a phoney-ass dick!!

  5. Oops! I forgot my disclaimer:
    The previous rant was the opinion of the commenter only and does not and should not in any way be taken to be the opinion of anyone else either here on this blog or on others. Nor should the comment be misconstrued to be used against the author of the subject piece, or be used to imply that the author of the subject piece did not write an excellent article.
    Thank you.

    (Sorry Tommy, I just couldn’t take it any more.)

  6. “.. The woman parades her then 17 year-old, unmarried, pregnant, Christian daughter on to the stage of the RNC for all the world, and the MSM, to see and scrutinize–then when they do scrutinize her..”


    So what Sarah Palin should have done is keep her unmarried, pregnant daughter in Alaska, out of the public eye, right? Hide her under a rock, right? And I know exactly what people like you would be saying now, something like this:

    ” … The woman, like all republicans is an hypocrite! They like to talk about their Christian values and see, her eldest daughter is fooling around having sex and now is pregnant! And now they hide her in Alaska so no one will see their shame! …”

    You conveniently forget that the whole thing came to light because you’re friends at the DKos were claiming that Palin was actually the grandmother of her last baby and was covering for her daughter.

  7. Ulisesjorge,

    You missed my point on the whole thing, which I’m not surprised by.

    Let’s get the small crap at of the way first, shall we? Those folks at the DKos, are not MY friends and I actually thought the whole Palin being the grandmother of her last child was ridiculous and sounded more like a poorly written TV script.

    I never said ALL Republicans are hypocrites. Hell, I don’t even say that about religious people, even though there are plenty of them. And by the way, religion is not just a Republican thing, there’s religious hypocrites in the Dem party, as well. And for the record, I am politically undeclared and plan on staying that way–and I absolutely do NOT believe in any man-made religion of any kind or The Bible, Koran, or any other brain washing manifesto.

    Let me clarify what my rant was about. When we have children, we owe them. We owe them because they didn’t ask to be born–we made the choice to bring them into this world. And as it is with all choices, there are responsibilities that come with those choices. One of the responsibilities we bear once we choose to bring a child into this world is to protect them. To sacrifice for them. To do whatever we can possibly do to give them whatever they need to survive and thrive in this world we brought them into.

    Sarah Palin is no stranger to politics, not now, not then. She knew damn well what was going to happen with Bristol being pregnant. She knew damn well that although the RNC would hypocritically make an exception for Bristol’s condition, the MSM and the rest of the world wouldn’t. She may be dense, but she’s not THAT dense. She chose to put her daughter out there, and why? Because Sarah Palin wanted to be Vice President. She made an arrogant and thoughtless decision (IMHO) just to further her own career. Palin is young enough that had she forgone the McCain offer, postponed a potential career leap as it were, she could have still furthered her career at a different time–say 2012. But she didn’t. She broke rule number 1: First do no harm. And if you break rule number 1, the rest of the rules don’t really matter now do they?

    In conclusion, ulisesjorge, THAT is my point. And don’t you dare profess to even begin to know what people like me would be saying–as you don’t know squat about me.

  8. it’s complete bullshit that he has to apologize for this and that he actually did… twice. the Palin camp took this shit way too far and now it’s become a big deal when it’s nothing …. i have the original video of the joke up here

  9. PCL,

    Your point is that Sarah Palin should have declined McCain invitation to be his VP because her daughter was pregnant, right? And that would be beneficial to Bristol because…? Would her mother putting everything aside due to “Bristol’s condition” help her become a responsible adult?

    Yes, she was a 17 years old kid but that’s old enough to realize that it was her mistake and she had to deal with it, not her mother. Lots of American families go trough that experience every day. Do all mothers put their careers aside to deal with that problem? Should they, is that your point? How does that help?

    BTW, regarding you point about the RNC “hypocritically” making an exception: Do you know of any republican politician being cast aside due to one of his/her children becoming pregnant? Is not a trick question, I don’t know the answer myself, but you sure know it, do you?

  10. Ulisesjorge:

    Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. She should have declined it because her 17 year-old, unmarried, Christian daughter was pregnant. It would have been beneficial to Bristol to NOT have to deal with the repercussions of being thrown in the national spotlight. I don’t know if her mother doing so would help Bristol become a responsible adult–but it sure as hell would have shown her the level of sacrifice that a parent should go through for their children.

    17 years in not even a legal adult–and I’m sorry, I respectfully disagree with you on understanding the extent of her ‘mistake’. That’s where her mother should have come in–she should have been there ‘completely’ to see Bristol through this without the outside world watching their every move–something that would have happened had Palin declined the candidacy. I don’t know what all mothers do in this particular situation–I only know what I would do, and I only know that IMHO Palin did not act in her daughter’s own best interest, she acted in her OWN best interest. And isn’t it funny how karma must have seen things my way?

    Quite frankly, I don’t keep track of any politician being cast aside due to one of their children becoming pregnant. I would venture to guess, that there are plenty of politicians’ kids, on both sides, getting themselves in, and out, of this kind of ‘trouble’ and we never hear about it–because they are not running for VP of the US. My point about the hypocrisy in the RNC is because they make themselves out to be such moral superiors to the rest of the country–and lately, they are the ones showing just the opposite. Kind of like, “it’s okay if we do it, we just have a problem if anyone else does it.” Now what’s that called again………

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