Every president is subjected to the inevitable comedy record -- memorably, Stiff Records released The Wit & Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, which was blank on both sides -- and Shout Factory! has given listeners the first George W. Bush
comedy record in Bushspeak: The Curious Wit & Wisdom of George W. Bush
. Unlike the John F. Kennedy
comedy records, which were sketches performed by comedians, Shout Factory! turns the floor over to Dubya
himself, chronicling his most notorious verbal fumbles as a presidential candidate and as president. Many of these are quite familiar, even notorious -- a term that certainly works for "I don't think we need to be subliminable" and "the literacy level of our children are appalling" -- and they're gathered together according to chapters: "Bushspeak on Terrorism," "Bushspeak on Education," "Bushspeak on the Environment," "Bushspeak on the Economy," "Bushspeak on Governance & Compassion." At first, the speech snippets are played with patriotic music in the background, with each chapter announced in a booming voice; in the afterword, the snippets are repeated without music or announcements. The total running time for the main album and afterword is 18:14, which is kind of brief, but you can only take so much of this at once, and it's good that it makes its point and gets out of the way. It winds up being a good value for the dollar, something that works well to simultaneously amuse and rile the "Anyone But Bush
" legions in 2004. After all, these start out being really funny -- "As I told a lot of folks in Texas over the years, I wish I knew the law"; "I couldn't imagine someone like Osama Bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah"; "We're fully committed to working with both sides to bring the level of terror down to an acceptable level for both"; "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully" -- but after all these stumbles and gaffes, the following has a chilling impact. First, W
revels in this memory: "One of the reporters said would you ever deficit spend and I said only, only in times of war, in times of economic insecurity as a result of a recession or in times of emergency. Never did I dream we'd have a trifecta." He follows this joke at the expense of our nation's dark days with a trademark snigger. Then, a little bit later, he has what seems to be a Freudian slip: "If this were a dictatorship it'd be a heck of a lot easier. [Snigger] Just so long as I'm the dictator." These statements bring a serious undercurrent to the humor that surrounds them and makes Bushspeak
an effective political tool as well as a strong comedy album.