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A Wiseguy Explains His Smarting Words

Denis Leary (Molly Riley/Reuters)

George Carlin said comedians have a duty to find out where the line is drawn -- and cross it. Denis Leary stepped over it last month when he mocked parents for jumping on the "autism express," and he's still explaining the remarks, which he says were taken out of context.

"I've been accused of being many things -- shocking, controversial -- but never stupid," Leary told us at the Kennedy Center tribute to Carlin on Monday night.

In his new book, "Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid," the comedian criticizes "inattentive mothers and competitive dads" for using autism as an excuse for their "junior morons." Autism activists were outraged -- Jenny McCarthy called him "obviously stupid" -- and Leary issued a quick public apology to families living with the disease.

So ... what the heck did he mean? Leary told us he has close friends raising an autistic child and wanted to expose parents who use false diagnoses to justify kids who are "stupid or lazy or both" and the grown-ups who label themselves to explain failures. The flap doesn't seem to have hurt his popularity -- the "Rescue Me" star was surrounded by fans all night.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 12, 2008; 1:03 AM ET
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George Carlin knew exactly how and where to cross the line!
Maybe that was his gift.
Or perhaps it was lessons he learned in the 1950s, through 70s as a relative unknown trying to make a name for himself.

Dennis Leary does not have George Carlin's knack for how and where to cross it.
Clearly Dennis Leary does not live in the comedy-friendly world that George Carlin did. There simply are changes in society that have taken place since Carlin's best years that make the world less funny, and make it harder to laugh at ourselves, but at the end, Leary clearly does not have Carlin's knack for crossing the line, at least not yet!

Posted by: gkiltz | November 12, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

OH NO! Next thing you know they will be saying bad things about the Obama Nation!

Posted by: johnlloydscharf | November 12, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The dumbing down of America- when people actually care what some actor has to say about medical issues or politics.

Posted by: silverspring25 | November 12, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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