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What people are saying about Tennessee Political Humor: Some of These Jokes You Voted for

By Diane Ballard, Tennessee Alumnus Magazine

Tennessee Political Humor The story goes that two members of the Tennessee General Assembly partied too hearty one night and were rescued by a friend, a penitentiary guard who took them to the safety of the big house to sleep it off.

Upon awakening, one says incredulously to the other, "Do you remember being put in here?"

"Whew," the other answers, "I don't even remember having a trial."

Stories about colorful political characters are oft-repeated, but seldom written. It took two political characters themselves to have the idea for a book of nothing but jokes and tall tales from Volunteer state politics - Tennessee Political Humor (subtitled "some of these jokes you voted for").

Cotton Ivy (Knoxville '54), former legislator and state commissioner and well-known humorist, and Roy Herron (Martin '75), state senator, attorney, and a former minister, wrote the book "because we know what a blessing humor can be." UT Press, generally recognized for more serious works, published the book, though not without the scholarly accompaniment of notes that corroborate each chapter.

Thoroughly bipartisan and purged of epithets, Tennessee Political Humor still manages to make you smile. And the cast of characters guarantees name recognition - Howard Baker, Ned McWherter, Davy Crockett, Al Gore (Sr. and Jr.), Lamar Alexander, and many more.

Some of the best anecdotes are Ivy's and come at the expense of politicians in general, like the one about the man who goes campaigning out in the country and stops to do some politicking with an old man sitting on his front porch. In the yard was a "wooly booger dog."

"Hey Mister, does yore dog bite?" the politician shouted.

"Naw," came the reply.

The politician moved toward the house, and the dog came at him. Chased him all the way back to his pickup. Safe inside, the politician rolled down the window and yelled, "I thought you said your dog don't bite."

"Ain't my dog," the old man replied.

Or the one about the coon dog that was hollerin' so loud the politician couldn't talk his campaign talk to the dog's owner.

"Sir, what's wrong with that dog?" the politician finally managed to ask.

"He's just settin' on a cuckleburr."

"Well, why don't he move?"

"He's a politician dog," the owner replied. "He'd rather holler than do anything about it."

Indeed that brand of down-home understatement runs throughout this book of humorous happenings. Such as the line attributed to Ned McWherter about bills designed to alter TennCare: "I'm not opposed to them. I just don't want them to pass."