Politicians Who Made You Laugh Out Loud In 2011

Host Michel Martin continues her recap of this year's political highlights and flops with journalism professor Cynthia Tucker U.S. News and World Report columnist Mary Kate Cary. They look at some of the more comedic moments, including those from Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain.

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I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Coming up, social conservatives in Iowa have several candidates facing their support ahead of next week's caucuses, but one of the most prominent leaders among so-called values voters has thrown his support to an underdog. We are going to hear from Bob Vander Plaats about his endorsement. That's coming up in just a few minutes.

But first, we want to continue our broadcast of the second annual TELL ME Awards for the top political performances of the year. Our judges are Cynthia Tucker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. She's now a journalism professor at the University of Georgia. And Mary Kate Cary, a blogger and columnist for U.S. News and World Report and a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. Thank you for staying with us, ladies.

MARY KATE CARY: Of course.

CYNTHIA TUCKER: This is too much fun to miss.

MARTIN: Yes. And, of course, we've saved the best for last. It's time for the Best Comedy Album. Mary Kate, get us started. Your nominee is a nod to a musical pop icon. Here it is.


JON 2012 GIRLS: (Singing) We're bringing Huntsman back. The rest of them is one big circus act. We're right behind the guy who's right on track. You know we're going to bring Jon Huntsman back.

MARTIN: OK. This is one of my all time favorite songs, which I play at any moment. That's not, obviously, Justin Timberlake bringing sexy back. But Mary Kate, let's talk about...

CARY: Bringing Jon Huntsman back.


CARY: That is the Jon 2012 Girls. Our listeners can get on YouTube and see the whole thing. Just like Betty Ford, they have beat their dad in terms of record sales and he's lucky to have them. They've sort of stolen the show from him and added a little bit of humor to the presidential race. And I think we're going to see a lot more of the Huntsman Girls in the future because they're...

MARTIN: Yeah. Mary Anne, Abby and...

CARY: They're very good.

MARTIN: ...Liddy Huntsman.

CARY: Yeah.

MARTIN: The daughters of Jon Huntsman. I just have to wonder what's next for them because this is too good.


CARY: "X Factor," "American Idol"?


MARTIN: Cynthia, you went to a one-time media favorite. Let's see if people remember his voice. Here it is.


HERMAN CAIN: Let me leave you with this. I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie. Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It's never easy when there's so much on the line.

MARTIN: Cynthia, tell us.

TUCKER: Well, Mary Kate had made a couple of references to my winner for Best Comedy Album earlier.


TUCKER: That, of course, was Herman Cain, who definitely was a media favorite. He was one of my favorites because he provided me so much column fodder over the last several months.

This guy's range of unintentional comedy hits - it just went on and on. But for me, it was the interview with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That was the interview where he was asked about the president's policy on Libya. He looked up at the ceiling. He said: Libya. The president took the rebel's side, right? And then he looked up at the ceiling some more and then he said: Oh, no, that's somewhere else. I got so much twirling around in my head.

He clearly just didn't know the subject matter. He had entered a presidential campaign and I think, much to his surprise, he had become a frontrunner and then was taken seriously as a frontrunner and expected to know things he just did not know. So he's out of the race, but I think his string of YouTube hits will be with us for some time to come.


MARTIN: Maybe next year, Cynthia, will tell us how she really feels about - she'll come out of her shell.

CARY: Newt and Herman Cain - she's - no love lost.

MARTIN: Exactly. Cynthia Tucker is a journalism professor. She's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. She joined us from Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Mary Kate Cary is a columnist and blogger for U.S. News and World Report. She's also a former speech writer for President George H.W. Bush and she joined us in our Washington, D.C. studios. Ladies, thank you for your contributions to the program throughout the year.

CARY: It was a great year.

MARTIN: 2011. Thank you so much. Happy New Year.

CARY: Happy New Year.

MARTIN: And let's hope for more in 2012.

TUCKER: Happy New Year to you.

CARY: Yeah. It's going to be a great year.

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