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Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell: Jokes abound, but political divide no laughing matter

| Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, 7:15 p.m.

With all the vitriol in our politics — with the disagreement that is tearing our country apart — we could use some levity about now.

Here’s one joke I think we can all agree with:

A man wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun against his ribs.

“Give me your money,” said the mugger.

“You can’t do this,” said the well-dressed man. “I’m a U.S. congressman!”

“In that case,” said the mugger, “give me MY money!”

Being a parent is more challenging than ever. We live in a time when parents must censor C-SPAN!

Which reminds me of the one about the father who used the never-ending shenanigans in Washington to teach his son an important lesson.

“Son, you should never steal, lie or cheat.”

“Why, Dad?”

“Because the government hates competition!”

The U.S. Senate is agitating millions of Americans. The allegedly august body of distinguished minds is supposed to give thoughtful pause to our political process — but is giving us a Jerry Springer show instead.

That’s why the words of legendary humorist Will Rogers are truer today than when he spoke them during the Great Depression:

“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

“Senators are a never-ending source of amusement, amazement and discouragement.”

With our senators being held in such low regard, this joke will resonate with many:

A minister goes to a barbershop on Capitol Hill. The barber, thanking him for his service, says “No charge.” The next morning, the barber finds a thank-you note from the minister.

A few days later a police officer gets his hair cut. The barber, thanking the officer for his service, says “No charge.” The next morning, the barber finds a thank-you note from the police officer.

A few days after that, a senator gets his hair cut. The barber, thanking the senator for his service, says “No charge.” The next morning, as he arrives at his shop, a dozen senators are waiting on the stoop.

Public discourse is suffering in our country right now — one could argue it is nonexistent, which is a dangerous turn for our country.

According to, “discourse” is “communication of thought by words; talk; conversation.”

Thoughtful conversation is how we arrive at political consensus — how we vote for political leaders, make our laws, pick our judges.

Thoughtful conversation — not shouting and name-calling — is the only way to iron out disagreements in both our personal and public lives.

Thoughtful conversation — thoughtful public discourse — is the bedrock of an orderly, well-functioning representative republic.

God knows we’re short on thoughtful conversation at this moment — at our own peril.

To that end, I hope we can all agree on this one:

A couple was touring the capitol in Washington, and the guide pointed out a tall, benevolent gentleman as the congressional chaplain. The lady asked, “What does the chaplain do? Does he pray for the Senate or House?”

“No,” said the tour guide. “He gets up, looks at both houses of Congress, then prays for the country!”

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” Visit him on the web at

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