He's Chevy Chase and You're Not (Be Very Happy Edition)

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Two nights ago, at a People for the American Way (PAW) event in D.C., former funnyman Chevy Chase laid into President Bush (har har, funny) with his trademark wit and panache. So much so that PAW distanced themselves from the Saturday Night Live stalwart quicker than audiences distanced themselves from Under the Rainbow.

Snippets courtesy of the Wash Post:

Chase took the stage a final time and unleashed a rant against President Bush that stunned the crowd. He deployed the four-letter word that got Vice President Cheney in hot water, using it as a noun. Chase called the prez a "dumb [expletive]." He also used it as an adjective, assuring the audience, "I'm no [expletive] clown either. . . . This guy started a jihad."

Chase also said: "This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck."

That said, Chase did focus ire on the audience itself. After the above bon mot, he noted, "and we still couldn't beat him with a bore like Kerry."

People for the American Way distanced itself yesterday from the actor's rant. "Chevy Chase's improvised remarks caught everyone off guard, and were inappropriate and offensive," Ralph Neas, the liberal advocacy group's president, said in a statement. "It was not what I would have said, and certainly not the language People for the American Way would ever use in discussing any president of the United States."

Whole thing here.

[Tip o' pen to Baylen at the Drug Policy Alliance.]

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  1. Isn’t this SOP for “advocacy” groups? Didn’t the presidential campaigns do things similar? –

    a staff member, acquaintance, hired-gun of the group/campaign spews off damnations against the other guy. Then the said group officially “distances” itself from the speaker, while undoubtedly wishing it could have said it themselves. Great way to avoid blame/accountability.

  2. Yeah, fuck Bush!!! 🙂

  3. From the suck.com link: Chevy Chase’s comic legacy is his unintentionally hilarious attempts at rehab and a late-night talk show.

    Ouch, no wonder he’s so bitter.

  4. So, which former household name was least funny during his prime? Chevy Chase, or Lenny Bruce? They ran some of his old clips on Court TV’s “First Amendment Project” the other night — none of his best bits, even — and I gotta tell ya, Bruce was funny. I think Chase peaked when getting the lap dance from his bimbo wife in “Groove Tube.” And of course, it wasn’t even completely Chase, as the voice was dubbed by another actor in that particular scene. (Dialog I would have liked to hear: “I’m not Chevy Chase altogether, and neither are you! But my wife is in the altogether, and I think I’ll keep her.”)

  5. Chevy’s done a poor job of escaping his niche as a comic, which he hasn’t done so well with either. It amazes me that celebrities think their views so significant that they do dramatic stuff like this. But maybe it’s all about publicity (any being better than none) and showing their “depth.”

  6. First, I don’t think I’m in the minority here when I say that the only Chevy Chase legacy worth preserving – outside a small handful of inspired Weekend Update bits – are the Family Vacation (Christmas Vacation being a particular fav) films…everything else is crap.

    Usually he’s the platform around which other talented folks get to shine. Randy Quaid and Dabney Coleman come to mind.

    Second, this may shed some light on why the Democrats are losing market share to Republicans.

    Republicans rarely – if ever – “distance themselves” from a fellow con with a cranky disposition.

    In fact, they embrace them with everything from militant zeal (Rush, Hannity) to the kind of fondness usually reserved for a daffy older aunt (Buchannon, Bennet).

    Maybe Dems ‘d have more success if they stood behind their own “emporer has no clothes” types instead of abandoning them like a bunch of high school kids desperate craving to be liked.

  7. madpad is right. the GOP openly courts guys like Jerry Falwell, yet Bush never denounces the crazy things he says. Why? Because no one expects him to. They never denounce their friends, and the media gives them a free ride. Meanwhile, Dems are quick to pull the trigger on Whoppi and Chevy and Maher because they are terrified of the repercussions.

    I can’t stand Chevy Chase, and for the life of me I don’t know why anyone would invite him to their banquet. But you should have the courage to support him.

  8. Yeah, remember that time when Rush and Hannity used expletives when talking about Democratic presidents? Oh, wait…

  9. I gotta disagree with Ralph Neas – that’s the sort of language people should use in discussing just about ANY President of the United States.

    “Usually he’s the platform around which other talented folks get to shine.” The word you’re looking for is “straight man,” and it’s a pretty tough act to pull off well. Chevy Chase was a great straight man.

  10. So am I the only one, besides possibly Matt, who thought both Fletch movies were highly entertaining? I think at their best they were as good as the best Vacation stuff (and overall much better than European Vacation).

  11. Hey, I thought Under the Rainbow was pretty funny. Of course, I was 11 years old when I was it.

    And yes, Chevy did some good straight-man stuff (which doesn’t necessarily outshine the gawdawful stuff he’s done). His last great straight-man routine was a Letterman interview in the run-up to his talk shows. It was all non-sequiturs from Chevy – might’ve been psychiatric meds or something.

  12. I’ve liked different things Chevy has done and don’t mind admitting it, but he ought to focus on comedy if this is all he’s got in the political department. He’s entitled to his views, but c’mon…

  13. Madpad:
    Do Republicans “embrace” Pat Buchanan anymore, if they ever did? No less than William F. Buckley called him an anti-Semite, Bill Kristol and others have fought with him, and (unless he returned after the debacle of his 2000 presidential run), he isn’t even a registered Republican anymore.

  14. thanks, tom.

    That’s not to say the NEVER do it, of course.

    Trent Lott is proof of that. But it’s important to note that they gave Lott the boot at the same time they were eulogizing Strom Thurmond.

    I have no real democratic leanings, although I am far from conservative about anything. But I do happen to think that a democratic party that had a spine might be a good thing.

    It’s not values, per se, that conservatives like…it’s how they are expressed.

    Democratic leadership stands for it’s various consituencies up to the point where they rock the boat.

    Clinton, Kerry, Lieberman & Company, have all caved when pushed to the line about gay marriage, abortion, labor and other social justice issues.

    People are weary of the democrats because they won’t go to the mat for their issues and the republicans will.

    Kerry’s “nuancing” was, in reality, avoiding the scrap. In the end, people voted for Bush – I think anyway – because of the appearance of a willingness to slug it out in the open. Democrats are really weak in this area.

    P.S. – Joe, you’re right. He is a great (well, pretty good anyway) straight man. I stand corrected.

    People want to be led…not pandered to.

  15. James,

    While you may be right about the particular case of Buchannon, I think my larger point still stands.

    Republicans – conservatives in particular – get away with some pretty nasty talk about their opponents with damn few big voices in the party “distancing themselves.”

    Sure, plenty of liberals say plenty of negative things about the president. But they rarely get outrageous or vulgar, let alone drop an f-bomb doing it. And when they do, they are culled from the herd but quick.

    As for Buchannon, he’d been bitching loudly for years before the more recent events. It took a lot more over a long time for anyone to ‘distance themselves” from him.

    Ofcourse I’m only focusing on one of MANY problems I see with the democrats approach to things. Man, could I go on…

  16. Matt and J are on the right track. But someone has to come out and say that Fletch is the greatest movie of all time. It may as well be me: Fletch is the greatest movie of all time.

  17. “Yeah, remember that time when Rush and Hannity used expletives when talking about Democratic presidents? Oh, wait…”

    Yeah, remember that time Tom Daschle shot a watermelon in his back yard, to demonstrate how Dick Cheney executed a White House staffer? Oh, wait…

  18. the whole concept of bad words is a mystery to me, should anyone really give 2 shits if someone says ‘bush is fuckin dumb’ instead of ‘bush is dumb’?

  19. Joe, you’re right. He is a great (well, pretty good anyway) straight man. I stand corrected.

    No, Bud Abbot was a good straight man. Art Carney was a good straight man. Chase is no straight man. Sorta minimalist physical comedian / low key smart ass? Yeah (and pretty damn good in is [very brief] prime). But not a straight man.

  20. Joe,

    Oh, so Rush and Hannity do use foul language and the GOP regularly supports that. OK.

  21. No, wellfellow, they’re very careful to use nice, dinner table language when they do their dirty work.

    Nope, when some of the most prominent conservatives in the media accused Bill Clinton of ordering a man to be murdered, and to stage a suicide, they didn’t use dirty words. And as Kyle’s Mom tells us, not using dirty words is the important thing.

  22. Well, Joe, that is the point of the post and the comment I addressed, after all.

  23. “People are weary of the democrats because they won’t go to the mat for their issues and the republicans will.”

    As a former radical activist, I can say this is exactly why I could not make common cause with democrats. Imagine my surprise when cons started sneering at them as “liberals”, too!

  24. Why does anyone care about what an actor says about something other than acting?

  25. I really enjoy Fletch and the first Vacation, and Chase did some really funny stuff on SNL year one . . . but I’ve read a lot of the SNL histories, including Tom Shales’ comprehensive book from a couple of years ago, and if there’s one thing that all of them agree on — former cast members, crew, and just about everyone else — it’s that 1) Chevy Chase is a real asshole in person, and 2) So is Al Franken.

  26. “Why does anyone care about what an actor says about something other than acting?”

    I’d second this, but I like the Gubernator. Saying I only like actors when I agree with them makes me feel silly.

  27. madpad is right. the GOP openly courts guys like Jerry Falwell

    And the Democrats openly court guys like Al Sharpton and Michael Moore.

    Say what you will about Falwell, but he’s never caused anyone’s murder or framed anyone for rape. That’s more than can be said of Sharpton.

    Nope, when some of the most prominent conservatives in the media accused Bill Clinton of ordering a man to be murdered, and to stage a suicide, they didn’t use dirty words.

    You’ve spent a little too much time kissing the asses of people who accused Bush of complicity in 9/11 for that complaint to carry much weight, joe.

  28. I think Chase is really funny in the first Fletch and Vacation movies, and, of course, Caddyshack. Everything else is shit.

    I think Bill Murray was the most intelligent of the original SNL cast to pick his projects. Dan Ackroid is just plain embarassing.

  29. Hey wellfellow,

    “Yeah, remember that time when Rush and Hannity used expletives when talking about Democratic presidents? Oh, wait…”

    Go Cheney yourself. Oh yeah, big time.

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