Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Public Option Walks Into a Bar...

As I reviewed the goings on in the Senate Finance Committee last night, it struck me that I had never heard a good public option joke. I even googled “public option jokes,” and the results were less than satisfying. Why such a poverty of creativity on what has (unfortunately) become the defining policy question of the year?

Here's an attempt: How is the public option like Jon Gosselin? Both are on TV all the time and neither deserves the attention.

I asked a few of my friends to see if they could come up with any. Here are some of the printable ones:

-The public option is like public school. It works in Britain.

-I actually have a really funny public option joke, but first I'll need two documents to evidence citizenship, and you'll have to fill out this form in triplicate.

-In French, “public option” is pronounced "noblesse oblige."

Hate them? Write your own in the comments, and I’ll feature some good ones.

Meanwhile, a terrible public option pun after the jump…

Two men are drinking across the street from an Irish pub. The first man says to the second, "Do you want to make a bet? I'm going to give you two choices, and you must promise to do one of them. One of them will be much, much more appealing than the other, but I'm not going to tell you which. After hearing the first one, you have to decide if you want to do it or wait for the second one, which you will have no choice but to do, whether it's better or worse." "I think I follow that," says the second man. "And you're on!"

"All right, says the first man. I bet you can't lick every surface in that Irish drinking establishment across the street." The second man thinks for a while. "The other one's got to be better," he says to himself. So he says to the first guy, "All right, I'll do the second thing you say." "Okay, then live the rest of your life without health insurance!" says the first man. The second man pales and heaves a heavy sigh. "I knew I should have considered the pub-lick option!" he says.

By Stephen Stromberg  | October 1, 2009; 5:48 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Problem With Cable News
Next: Chicago Olympics Were a Mistake, Win or Lose


So two Puritans are walking home from church on Sunday. One says to the other, "You know, Roger, beer's even tastier if you drink it when no one thinks you're boozing." Roger says to the other, "I'm shocked, John Comstock! You know our religion frowns on drunkenness." John says, "Nah, all they expect is a public hop shun."

Posted by: AlexRemington | October 1, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

fyi....public schools in the UK are its private schools...not funded by the gov't. Just for purist's sake.

The public option is not a joke. People are dying by the thousands or going bankrupt because of the absence of affordable health care in the US. The real joke is referring to cable 'news' as anything but infotainment. Get real.

Check out

Posted by: Regavra | October 1, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse


I suspect that the UK's "public schools" being private is part of the joke - the author is advocating for private insurance.

Posted by: evenadog | October 2, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

It's disheartening that the Dana Milbank comedy hour has returned to the WaPo.

What a waste of time.

Posted by: sembtex | October 2, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

The two main arguments against the public option, as expressed by its opponents:

1) It will be so poorly run, it won't work.

2) It will be run so well, it will work.

Posted by: Rdobrick | October 2, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

You want to hear a public option joke. A child is born and lives a short pitiful life of misery and pain, and dies young and never once saw a doctor. This child lived in Chicago in the 20th century.

There are jokes like this all day long. Homeless children without any medical care ever in their entire childhood. No doctors, no dentists, no nothing, just a youthful life of suffering until either death or adulthood, whichever comes first.

This is the joke of the unwanted children of America without any health care, public or private.


Posted by: patmatthews | October 2, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the comments section here is a clue why there aren't any public option jokes.

Posted by: hayesap8 | October 2, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

The debate about healthcare reform is at its "core", is really about white genetic survival. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of demographics knows that America, due to its "southern exposure", is getting browner each and every passing day. Healthcare reform will insure that white genetic survival is at great risk of annihilation. So when all is said and done, those who are most threatened by healthcare reform are whites of all socio-economic classes. The healthier non-white people are, the longer they will live and prosper, and the greater the chances are, they will intermarry with whites, and annihilate whites as a race.

Posted by: demtse | October 2, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I can't joke about it. Or appreciate jokes about it. If that makes me a stick in the mud then so be it. We have friends who will be going into bankruptcy because they were unable to afford insurance and there was a medical issue that raised bills for them that are beyond their means to pay. But there was no choice in the treatment. I also am not well, in a really big way, and without insurance we would be facing devastating bills. No joke.

Posted by: Yankee_Lady | October 2, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

demtse, that is the most laughable attempt at dismissing the "core" of the healthcare debate as I've ever seen. The mere fact that health care reform is supported by a majority of Americans--white, brown, black, green and purple--disproves your inane point.
And the fact that health care now represents 16% of our GDP (soon to be 20%) really ought to protect it from silly columns about "pub-lick option" jokes, don't you think, Mr. Stromberg? Really, after watching the SFC "debate", thats all you could come up with?

Posted by: opinionatedinfairfax | October 2, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Posted by: tspafford | October 2, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Dear tspafford:

Alexis de Tocqueville never wrote or said any such thing.

The earliest known reference to your 'quote' is Dec. 9, 1951. The writer was Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman.

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | October 2, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Q: How do you get the public option started?

A: Turn the key on the death panel.

(Oooh, that's cold. I shall have to censor myself better in the future...)

Posted by: not_fifty | October 2, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

It is 2018, A recently widowed woman with three children loses her job and gets sick. She can no longer afford private insurance.

"Oh that's okay" she tells her best friend " I can get the public option".

Her friend replies " Didn't you know, there is no public option."

Ha Ha Ha!

Posted by: maddymappo | October 2, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It is comical to see the indignation and sanctimony of the true believers. How dare anyone commit such heresy as to joke about a lefty article of faith.

Posted by: mike27 | October 2, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Finance Committee member: maybe I should do what most of the nation wants and pass public option.

Insurance pimp: never mind that. You remember what I told you when you got your money beech.

Posted by: revbookburn | October 2, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Here is a public option joke for you:

Obama's "commitment" to the public option.

Here is the text of the President's principles of healthcare reform as articulated on his website BEFORE he gave his address to Congress:

"President Obama is committed to working with Congress to pass comprehensive health reform this year in order to control rising health care costs, guarantee choice of doctor, and assure high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. The Administration believes that comprehensive health reform should:
Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
Invest in prevention and wellness
Improve patient safety and quality of care
Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions."

Do you see anything about a public option here.

How committed could he be to a public option if the White House extracted a promise from the AMA to support healthcare reform in exchange for its dropping the public option from the plans?

How seriously can you take any "healthcare reform" that promised the pharmaceutical companies, Bush-style, not to negotiate for drug prices? Nancy Pelosi says the House Democrats are not bound by that agreement. Sounds like sophistry to me. Since Max Baucus gets so much money from Big Pharma, it's obvious that the Senate Democrats were pretty much in hock to Big Pharma.

Can you have any respect for what people liek this are saying? Can you view it as a principled fight? It's just more posturing and more nonsense. The whole healthcare reform idea is a joke and a giveaway to the health insurance companies.

My grandfather was a physician who graduated from a Chicago medical school, Northwestern. He said that taking money from his patients was immoral and decided that he would make investments instead. Thanks to the Depression, he almost lost them but he did not.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 6, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Obama is the biggest healthcare reform joke because as it stands, the Senate Finance bill and Max Baucus are both jokes, the Democrats have become a joke, and the nation became a joke when Obama went to Copenhagen. He has no power because he personally hasn't exhibited any. Everyone knows that the industry that contributes the most will be heard.

Everyone else who gets an email to give the man $5 is a fool and the request from the DNC is a joke.

I am a Democrat and that's what I think.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 6, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats should do as The Washington Post does and start a website. Then they should solicit ads from the industries who give them their campaign contributions. They should solicit ads from the healthcare industry contributors who give $4 million a year to Max Baucus to run an ad that no one can manage to stop, just like the mattress ads and the HP ads that the Post puts on this website. That would show where they are really coming from.

While I am not going to buy a mattress from their advertisers and a special place in hell has been carved out for the editors of the Economist and their popunder ads that are all over the Post's web pages, I think they are an ingenious way to shamelessly collect money from industries that the Democrats have yet to use. Why not? They've done everything else imaginable to sell themselves out? Why not a website with popunder ads?

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 6, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company