Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2008]
Is this true?
While he was making a campaign stop in Pennsylvania yesterday, John McCain kept getting interrupted by a heckler who shouted "I am a Democrat!" over and over.
McCain was obviously getting pissed, but he kept his anger bottled up long enough to respond to the heckler with, "My friend, can I ask you *why* you're a Democrat?"
The heckler said: "My grandfather was a Democrat, my father was a Democrat, and I am a Democrat!"
"What if you father had been a jackass?" McCain asked sarcastically. "Then what would you be?"
"A Republican!" the heckler yelled back.
Origins: Every election cycle reminds us that there's very little new under the sun when it comes to political humor, just recycled jokes that are continually refurbished to reference the candidates du jour. The purported exchange between Republican presidential nominee John McCain and a heckler is a variant of a item we found in a 1946 collection of humorous anecdotes, with that version referencing a campaign that took place a century ago:
Finally Roosevelt had to do something. With disarming gentleness he inquired, "May I ask the gentleman why he is a Democrat?"
"My grandfather was a Democrat," replied the heckler. "My father was a Democrat. And I am a Democrat."
"And suppose," continued Roosevelt, "that your father had been a jackass, and his father had been a jackass. What would you be?"
The heckler shouted back, "A Republican!"
Just to round out the cycle (and because it's too funny to pass up), we note the following humorous but non-political incident involving the Count
The look on his face as he realized what he had done was more memorable than his shot.
Hamilton, Gerald. The Way It Was with Me. Leslie Frewin Publishers Ltd., 1969 (pp. 54-55). Higbee, Arthur. "American Topics." International Herald Tribune. 28 April 1993. Untermeyer, Louis. A Treasury of Laughter. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946 (p. 91). Reuters. "Count de Bendern of Liechtenstein, 89." The New York Times. 8 October 1968 (p. 47).