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"Gimme a #$%^&#@ break," says VP Joe Biden

March 14, 2009 |  4:44 am

Vice President Joe Biden is likely the nation's No. 1 fan of Amtrak, as for years he allegedly took it back and forth from Delaware to his job in Washington in the Senate, which he started when President Obama was just 11 years old.

Biden doesn't do that anymore, of course. He travels in gas-guzzling, armored Secret Service SUVs now and resides in the vice president's official D.C. home most nights.

But Friday the excited new VP showed up with a bunch of other officials at Washington's Union Station to announce the spending of $1.3 billion in economic stimulus money by Amtrak, which according to Biden's figures, carries fully 80,000 passengers per day.

Former Delaware Senator and current Democratic vice president Joe Biden smiling by a microphone

Wow. 80,000. That's as many people on an entire rail network as go to a single NFL game. Or perhaps a third of the folks traveling the Santa Monica Freeway in one day. But it's a lot for Delaware.

At 28 million Amtrak passengers per year (minus Biden's trips), that works out to about $46.43 economic stimulus per passenger in coming months.

Anyway, Biden's Friday appearance is likely to be remembered more for what was not contained in his formal remarks.

The vice president saw an old congressional friend who, apparently unbeknownst to Biden, was standing near an open microphone. The friend greeted Biden as "Mr. Vice President."

And Biden replied, "Gimme a break." Except he also said the fudge word before break.

Now, besides being a delicious candy, "fudge" or its TV equivalent "bleep," are ancient words that have surged into American public discourse in recent times.

That's thanks most recently to Illinois' Democrat Rod Blagojevich. The ex-governor was allegedly caught on federal wiretaps using the candy word many times while discussing the sale of his nomination to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. As federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald read the partial transcripts aloud for cameras in December, he said "bleeping" or "bleep you" instead of $#%^&*#@ or $#%^ you.

Before Rod, Vice President Cheney mentioned the yummy chocolate candy when he suggested that Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy do something to himself. Cheney later explained that he felt Leahy merited the fudge at the time, but the ex-VP thought they'd mended that wound. Which is a mixed metaphor but everyone got the idea anyway.

President Obama is on audiotape mentioning several varieties of fudge as he recorded his book, "Dreams from My Father," allegedly mimicking a foul-mouthed childhood friend. And, of course, another open microphone several years ago captured now former President George W. Bush describing a certain nearby newspaper reporter as an obscure orifice of the human body.

We're forced to record all this Churchillian political repartee here now in the interests of this bleeping bipartisanship that's supposed to be seizing that $#%^&#@ swamp called Washington.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press    H/T to Jimmy Orr over at the Vote blog.

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