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Jerry Brown begs your forgiveness for being funny

Jerry brown Fifty years ago, the media lionized President Kennedy for his quick wit.

Today, Jerry Brown is being pummeled in the media for cracking a joke about Bill Clinton.

Maybe Brown's riff about his fellow Democrat wasn't sufficiently funny, or maybe it's just too easy to lampoon the former adulterer in chief. Still, it's sad that Brown felt compelled to call a news conference Monday to apologize for his remarks at an event in Los Angeles the day before. His jab may have landed close to the belt line, but he didn't say anything that wasn't true.

Clinton got dragged into the California gubernatorial race by Brown's Republican opponent, Meg Whitman.  One of Whitman's seemingly limitless TV commercials excavates a 1992 video clip of Clinton (whom Brown was challenging for the presidential nomination) accusing Brown of raising taxes while governor. State tax officials debunked that claim last week, and Brown has denounced Whitman for airing it.

At Sunday's event, Brown expanded his critique of the ad, saying, "I mean, Clinton's a nice guy, but whoever said he always told the truth?" Then, parodying the former president's denial that he'd had "sexual relations" with intern Monica Lewinsky, Brown said, "I did not have taxes with this state.”

Maybe I'm a sucker for wordplay, but I think that one is worth a couple of rim shots. Granted, Brown isn't running against Clinton, at least not since Gavin Newsom (whom Clinton endorsed) shifted from the governor's race to the lieutenant governor's. Yet candidates' criticisms of one another seem to live forever in this electronic age. Once an attack is played, it'll always be there for future rivals to use in future races (or misuse, as the case may be).

Brown should feel free to smack back at the ghosts of campaigns past. And voters should welcome candidates willing to depart from their scripts and show off a mind lively enough to crack wise.

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Jerry Brown speaks at a Sept. 2 rally in Oakland. Credit: AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli


Comments () | Archives (14)

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dante mascaro

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Clinton is the worst of the worst....a princeling of privilage weeping into his champagne bucket over the plight of the poor!

Swamp scum, a blight on the Presidency.......

Jerry Brown is a real democrat!

clinton is a carpet bagger and now claims to be a New Yorker......


I couldn't disagree more. The joke wasn't funny. It made Brown look desperate and crass. I also gave me another reason not to like him.


Two Democrats accuse each other of being liars.

This is news?


Meg Whitman's ad is great... no need for her to get involved in the mud slinging.

Just put former President Bill "The Era of Big Government is Over" Clinton on the T.V. and let him call Moonbeam a taxer, a spender and a liar.


I've voted DEM in the last four elections, but no way am I voting for Jerry Brown.


Go Brown. Go Clinton. Down with Meg - - just to make these comments balanced.

Don Dante

Another reason for me to vote for Whitman....and I'm a democrat!


Hahaha yay, Go Whitman! An innovative leader who I can't wait to see in action. I love that so many Democrats intelligently refuse to vote for despicable and disgusting Jerry Brown. (p.s. shut up, Charlie. Are you 4 years old? Congratulations on being able to type. Now go away.)


p.s. Jon Healy you're an idiot. I know you work for the LA Times but please, try to stop these transparent and pathetic attempts at liberal brainwashing. Get a clue. Notice the prevailing trend in the political atmosphere lately? Catch up, moron.


Meg Whitman didn't vote for DECADES. Jerry Brown has served the public for DECADES.

Look for clues, people.


Jerry Brown has served the (pathetic unions) for DECADES.

Mdgore Geo

I find it so interesting that all the Brown haters can come up with is the bile that has spewed from Meg Whitless's campaign propaganda machine. CA is not going to become a republican state anytime soon. The legislature will be controlled by the democrats for the foreseeable future. The only thing the republicans can do is obstruct, they can not initiate (even if they had the capacity to do so, which I've seen no evidence of). So by voting for Whitless, you guarantee four more years of the same cr@p we've been going through with Ahnold as our guvornator......have fun with that. You want services, but you don't want to pay for them. You want services, but you only want them for yourselves. You want services, but you want the cuts to services coming from somewhere other than anything that would effect you and your lifestyle. Republicans and their stupid trickle down economics, republicans and their stupid off shoring, republicans and their stupid out sourcing. You have no jobs, because the republicans off shored the industrial base to boost earnings for the rich, who need to keep their tax cuts, who don't reinvest those tax cuts, but instead put them in savings to draw interest. Anyone making less than $100K a year, and voting for Whitless and her ilk should be placed under psychiatric care. Only the insane cut their own economic throats.

Mdgore Geo

Oh yeah, back on point.....Brown is funny, because he's smart. The man has it so over Whitless I can't wait to see them in a debate. The dog is headed for fall that no amount of money can save her from. Brown will make her his chew toy.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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