Origins: Skewering a political candidate with an apropos comment is a time-honored way of making a point. Of late, we're seeing this tradition expand into the online world of blogs and message boards but also into the offline world via signage on businesses.
The sign pictured above was displayed outside the Mandeville, Louisiana, office of State Farm Insurance agent Bud Gregg. The sign actually bore different legends on each side, one side displaying the "chicken" message shown above and the other side referencing an apocryphal quote attributed to Senator Obama about his hoping to change "the greatest nation in the history of the world":
A State Farm representative said that Bud Gregg's office sign bore these messages until 3 July 2008 and that the company had requested the sign be removed as soon as they became aware of it because the sign was inconsistent with State Farm's policy of not endorsing candidates or taking sides in political campaigns.
Both signs are reminiscent of the KFC offering lampooning Senator Hillary Clinton.
However, although this particular insurance vendor posted the "like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders" billboard, he most certainly wasn't the first to get off this zinger. That withering assessment has been leveled at numerous U.S. and Canadian politicians over the years:
[Moseley, October 2004]
If you are on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, a baby-boomer, unemployed, a minority, parent with school-aged children, a college student, without medical insurance, balancing your personal budget, not a CEO, purchasing gasoline, wanting clean air and water, a 401-K owner or earn less than $200,000 per year, then voting for George Bush is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
[Carville, January 2003]
The previous highest-ranking black official was Mr. JC Watts from Oklahoma. Do you know what his own father said? A black person voting for a Republican would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
[Charleston Daily Mail, October 1996]
Any hardworking person who votes Republican is like the chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
[Rogers, March 1996]
When workers voted for Mike Harris [Premier of Ontario, 1995-2002], it was like the chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.
[United Press International, October 1984]
A working man voting for Reagan is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
[Waters, November 1982]
For all that, Brinkley got off the evening's snappiest line: "Auto workers voting for Republicans this year are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders."
[Feinstein, October 1982]
[Michael] Barnes told the gathering of about 150 union leaders and members that "for a working man or woman in this country to vote Republican in 1982 would be a like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."
[Sheppard, October 1978]
Mr. [Steven] Langdon [NDP candidate in Ottawa Centre riding] told an audience that for Ottawa Centre to vote Tory [Progressive Conservative] is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
One of Bud Gregg's messages inspired a realtor in Texas to post the same sentiment on a sign outside his business:
Bob Costilow, the owner of Bob Costilow Realtors in Nederland, Texas, said he was appalled by the capital gains tax portion of Senator Obama's tax plan. "I saw it (i.e., the "chicken" saying) in an e-mail on a sign put up by a State Farm agent in Mandeville, Louisiana," he said. "I loved it. I have gotten some calls about it, and some of them were even congratulatory in nature."
Barbara "inspiration point" Mikkelson
Update: An e-mail circulated in October 2008 falsely claimed that we contacted neither Bud Gregg nor State Farm about this subject. FactCheck.org has verified that the e-mail was false.
Last updated: 10 April 2009
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