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Memo to Virginia Attorney General: Keep the Day Job

Not many people would look at Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell and think "stand-up comedian." After all, McDonnell's clean, crisp look and low-key manner seem more in keeping with his background as a graduate of evangelist Pat Robertson's Regent University law school.

But McDonnell yesterday took on the task of making the big speech at the Shad Planking, Virginia's annual political ritual of schmoozing and roasting. McDonnell got off some good lines, aimed, of course, primarily at the state's Democrats:

The Shad Planking is beloved by Virginia politicians. Mark Warner loves the Shad Planking, he says he has so much in common with shad. I can see that. Shad is a fish that comes to Virginia only temporarily, accomplishes its goals, and quickly leaves the state!

McDonnell tossed some barbs at the two Democrats who are vying in the June primary to take on Sen. George Allen this fall. One indication of which Dem the Republicans take most seriously: McDonnell had only one line about Harris Miller, the Fairfax telecommunications lobbyist in the race, versus three jokes aimed at Jim Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy who has switched from the GOP to the Democrats.

I have to hand it Harris Miller, I don't know many people who would have looked at the political landscape and said "This is the perfect time for a Washington D.C insider lobbyist to run for office."

McDonnell on Webb:

Jim Webb is also with us. Jim, as a fellow veteran, I salute your service. But I am a little confused; does your campaign as a Democrat for Senate mean that your annual Summer Republican Cook-Out is canceled? Just need to know if we should reschedule.

Jim is already doing his part to fit into the party of John Kerry. After all, Jim Webb was for George Allen before he was against him.

And finally, a rare bipartisan dig:

Jim Webb has a great slogan "Born Fighting." It's not original; he stole it from the General Assembly.

By Marc Fisher |  April 20, 2006; 10:41 AM ET
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Also worth noting- a blogger got mentioned in the Shad Planking speech- a Virginia first! They let blacks in during the 70s, women in the 80s and bloggers get a mention in 06. Shad Planking History.

Posted by: Information | April 20, 2006 11:23 AM

what i love is his joke about mark warner. i mean, the guy served only one term because of term limits. he's been in virginia since the 80s. how exactly is that coming in, accomplishing what he wants and leaving?

Posted by: james | April 20, 2006 12:03 PM

Goerge Allen did the same thing. He got elected, ran up the deficit building prisons, and moved on to the Senate.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2006 1:18 PM

so Mark Warner is technically a yankee from CT. at least he never pretended to be a "real" Virginian as hard as Senator Allen, with the boots and the cope and the riding the horse . . . just because you went to UVA and hold "Mr Jefferson's seat" does not erase your CA birth. Perhaps Mr McDonnell should have noted that.

Is Mr McDonnell even a "real" Virginian?

Posted by: OD | April 20, 2006 1:29 PM

mr. fisher,

since there are no public comments for your article about gentrification in shaw, i just wanted to post something here. thank you for writing about this issue, as it's an important one. i live in the neighborhood, and i'm familiar with all of the changes going on there, but the more i sit and think about it, the more it makes me angry the way you handled this story. this bishop long fellow, he's a bigot. plain and simple. but you don't address this, and i feel you give too much of a "here's one side, here's the other side, you decide" feel to this article. exchange homosexuality for judaism, any race, or the myriad constellation of ways that we label each other, and you'd see this man being pilloried for his views. unfortunately, sexual orientation is the last acceptable thing to discriminate against in this country. i understand the need for objectivity in journalism, but "facts is facts"...


Posted by: imgoph | April 20, 2006 2:51 PM

It's sad when the state's highest ranking attorney graduated from a fourth rate law school.

Posted by: Peter M | April 20, 2006 10:09 PM

Geoff--Thanks for your comment about today's column. I'm surprised to read that you think I didn't address Bishop Long's antipathy toward gays. I thought that was the primary subject of the column. I thought the reporting I presented was pretty damning. I don't believe in telling readers what to think when it's possible to report a scene and present a character--to show my point rather than telling it. I think that's a more honest and useful approach than simply mouthing off. Thanks for reading the piece.

Posted by: Fisher | April 20, 2006 10:43 PM

Just for the record, here are all of the AG's jokes:

I think there are more jokes aimed at Republicans than you grant, Mr. Fisher, including a couple of digs at Del. Reid and the obligatory mention of VP Cheney.

If a politician doesn't offer some humor, we brand him or her "stiff." If he or she does crack wise, the hackneyed "don't quit your day job" inevitably appears.

Look over the jokes again. Think about the venue. The tone wasn't mean-spirited. I think it was just about right for a light-hearted gathering in rural Virginia.

Posted by: Will Vehrs | April 21, 2006 7:28 AM

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