Commentary by Timothy Horrigan June 10, 2007
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Potential Republican Presidential candidate Joe Scarborough has been filling in for Don Imus on MSNBC, and it didn't take Joe long to have an "Imus moment." On Friday morning, June 1, 2007, Scarborough and a sidekick (Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford) got to chortling about the possibility that Fred Dalton Thompson's wife, Jeri Kehn Thompson, "works the pole." (She is a petite blonde who is a quarter century younger than her husband.)
The reference to pole-dancing was not entirely gratuitous: a female cast member (WFAN reporter Tracy Burgess) had been talking about how she does exercises on "the vertical pole."
Here is what Scarboough said about his rival's spouse:
The political impact of this remark was magnified by the fact that Fred Thompson is also a potential candidate for President. Thompson in fact is one of the frontrunners in the GOP race, thanks to his incredible charisma, his advocacy of conservative causes, his commitment to family values, and his unequaled resume. (Even the Democrat Bill Richardson's resume pails in comparison to Thompson's: in addition to being a Senator in real life, Thompson has played a tough prosecutor on the hit TV show "Law and Order", a Director of Central Intelligence, a White House Chief of Staff, and three different Presidents.)
Even though Scarborough is a Republican, the outrage, such as it was, came from the right. This was blamed on the fact that MSNBC is a Hard Left media outlet, and Joe is sucking up to his bosses.
Here is a transcript of the whole conversation, including the lead-in which is left out of the video:
June 1, 6:25 a.m.
Scarborough: "Hey Tracy"
Tracy Burgess: "Yes, Mr. Scarborough."
Scarborough: "What did you say before we came back on? That you work the what?"
Burgess: "I am taking vertical pole. I am studying vertical pole."
Scarborough: "Vertical pole?"
Scarborough: "What is that?"
Burgess: "It's a pole and you exercise on it."
McCord: "It's pole dancing, Joe."
Scarborough: "Okay, that's what I wanted to know."
McCord: "Tracy is becoming a pole dancer."
Scarborough: "I am just a cave-man lawyer, I don't know your strange ways up here in New York City. So you are one of these people.."
Burgess: "One of these people…"
Scarborough: "Who exercises and stays fit by working the pole."
Burgess: "Yes, yes, I do. Cause you are lifting your entire body weight and so, you're inverting yourself and you are putting yourself in moves that require all sorts of muscles that you usually don't work and it's good."
McCord: "Actually, Ms. Burgess is a fine athlete.— a tri-athlete who competes all the time in these various events and she has simply added to her repertoire."
Burgess: "Thank you, Mr. McCord"
Scarborough: "So pole dancing, what you're basically telling me, builds your core."
Burgess: "It does. It builds your core, it builds your arms, your legs, your thighs."
McCord: "Look it [burgess flexes biceps]."
Scarborough: "Oh my god, look at those arms."
McCord: "Oh, she's got guns, come on. Good lord, she's fit."
Scarborough: "I'm impressed."
Burgess: "And, I learned how to do a 'reverse superman.'"
Scarborough: "You want to show us that right now?"
Burgess: "Um, no. If you had a pole, I would."
Scarborough: "Well, thank you so much Tracy. I'm not gonna take a bite on that."
McCord: "Course, we're not pole driven."
Scarborough: "Some of us are. Craig Crawford"
Crawford: "Hey, I saw that on Oprah."
Scarborough: "Did you really?"
Crawford: "Yeah, they had pole dancing as exercise. That Teri, what's her name from Desperate Housewives is into that."
McCord: "It's become a big deal, actually."
Crawford: "And she did a whole exhibition of it— it was quite something."
Scarborough: "Housewives across America taking to the pole… for health and fitness. Hey, have you seen Fred Thompson's wife?"
Crawford: "Oh yeah…"
Scarborough: "You think she works the pole?"
Crawford: laughter "That what Hollywood careers will do for you, I guess."
Scarborough: "What do you mean?"
Crawford: "You get wives like that."
Scarborough: "I mean, look at that guy…god bless him, I love his voice and I mean, he ain't Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Crawford: "I'd like to see him get back in politics because I think he's a lousy actor. I always thought he was a better politician than actor, but that was true of Reagan"
Some examples of rightwing outrage:
"I Got a Crush on Obama": an unofficial video where a good-looking woman gets on a subway train in a tight-fitting Obama T-shirt and— she (gasp!) grabs a pole and (gasp!) dances! Oooh, shocking!