December 29, 2003

MOLLY IVINS CAN'T STEAL THAT

In this Texas Observer column from September, leftoid Molly Ivins wrote:

One problem I have with Arnold Schwarzenegger is that he looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts.

One problem I have with Molly Ivins is that sheís a goddamn joke thief. And not just once, but twice. In October the Texan gag bandit repeated her crime on CNN:

I went out to California to look at this race and came back saying, oh, Gray Davis makes Mr. Rogers look like he was on steroids, and Arnold Schwarzenegger looks exactly like a condom stuffed with walnuts. This was not the most profound observation I have ever made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible.

Irresistible ... to steal! Ivins lifted ďthe observation she madeĒ from Australian writer Clive James. Itís at least a decade old. Resign, you shameless, dishonest, joke-pinching she-beast!

Mollyís plagiarism -- first published, apparently, at AlterNet in August, and repeated all over the place since -- was noted earlier at Romanesko, which you can read about via Dogís Life; it deserves wider reporting, because Sundayís Below the Beltway column in the Washington Post again credits Ivins with the lifted line.

Oh, and by the way, Molly? Clive is a conservative. And he supported the war. The least you could do is limit your stealing to your own team.

UPDATE. As many are aware, this is not Mollyís first offence. She earlier lifted some material from writer Florence King. Salon described this episode tamely:

In a 1995 article for Mother Jones on Southern manners and mores, she extensively quoted, with affectionate attribution, statements from Florence King's book "Southern Ladies and Gentlemen." But for some careless reason Ivins still fails to comprehend, she left the attribution off a few King statements. In other words, she plagiarized. This, needless to say, is the ultimate no-no for a writer, and has cost many scribes their jobs. But considering the fact that Ivins' guilty passages were mixed in with many other cases that were attributed, her crime did not seem too horrible; she apologized to King and that was the end of it.

This report records a less conciliatory outcome:

The formidable Florence King has convincingly demonstrated that another Southern writer, Molly Ivins, has lifted her material without attribution, and changed material that she does attribute to Miss King. "If we had the right kind of laws in this country," said Miss King, "I'd challenge her to a duel over this." Miss Ivins, to her credit, has fessed up and apologized. Miss King is not entirely mollified.

She sure isnít. And hereís yet another Ivins plagiarism claimant, although the reliability of this guy is open to question ...

Posted by Tim Blair at December 29, 2003 03:55 AM
Comments

Hmm, I thought she'd clean up her act after getting caught borrowing (ahem) from Florence King.

Well at least give here credit for "borrowing" from the right people - King, James et al.

SMG


Posted by: SteveMG at December 29, 2003 at 05:41 AM

Perhaps her rendition wouldn't have been so annoying if the punch line had better timing.

Posted by: richard at December 29, 2003 at 05:59 AM

If Molly Ivins is still working on Monday, when will Mike Barnicle be getting his old desk back at the Boston Globe?

Posted by: Ed at December 29, 2003 at 06:09 AM

That's a funny observation Molly, did I ever tell you that you look like 150 lbs of shit stuffed into a 10 lbs sack?

Posted by: gavin at December 29, 2003 at 06:51 AM

tempest in a very very small teapot...have you ever told a joke that you did not get from someone else? or post a pic of some babe that yo did not get from elsewhere? stop being so small...Molly is grandlady and a chortle at her expense is all that is needed. To make a big thing of this is to make yourself indeed very small

Posted by: freddie at December 29, 2003 at 07:03 AM

Freddie,

I don't think they are making a big thing of this. Now, seeing it on Instapundit might make it big, but oh well.

Nonetheless, Ivins is a WRITER. A PAID writer. Who makes a living WRITING. Not only that, but she makes a living as a (I guess...) HUMORIST WRITER. So when a HUMORIST WRITER is USING other WRITER's jokes (and rather unobvious ones at that -- I can visualize a condom stuffed with walnuts, but ya know, I just don't get Ahnold out of that) it's called THEFT.

It's simply not the same as you telling a joke that you heard from somebody else because nobody assumes you made the joke up yourself. Quite different when you're talking about a PAID. HUMORIST. WRITER.

Besides, surely a Wellsley educated left-wing SuperGenius like Ivins can come up with her own material.

After all, Hillary does, doesn't she?

Posted by: grayson at December 29, 2003 at 07:17 AM

She's ugly, she's not funny and she should eat shit and die.

Posted by: Elbert at December 29, 2003 at 07:20 AM

She's ugly, she's not funny and she should eat shit and die.

Posted by: Elbert at December 29, 2003 at 07:20 AM

Molly...

this is it for you old girl.... We will not forget.. we will not let you forget either.. ;

Posted by: Arvin at December 29, 2003 at 07:21 AM

True to my words..

I called the Texas Observer.. didn't really expect to get anyone on the horn, in fact the message stated no-one would be in until jan 5.. I told them that jan 5 would be too late for them as this story was moving rather swift.. gave them the directions on how to get to timblair.spleenville.com, and splained how this was her second offence, and it was just a matter of time before the entire world picks up on it, did some giggling, told them that i was taking great pleasure in all this, left my number, and hung up still laughing..

damn that was a good catch tim..

Posted by: Arvin at December 29, 2003 at 07:48 AM

I shouldn't throw any stones here, as I live in a glass house, but someone should tell Ivins that at least Ah-nold looks like a "condom stuffed with walnuts," and not one stuffed with suet.

Posted by: Reginleif the Valkyrie at December 29, 2003 at 08:03 AM

Grayson:


Molly Ivins is a humorist? I guess I don't have a sense of humor, then, because I find her stuff mean-spirited and deliberately obtuse.

And her picture... lord, with what they can do with Photoshop, does she HAVE to look like that?

J.

Posted by: JLawson at December 29, 2003 at 08:12 AM

Here's my own lifted punchline - Molly looks like her face was set on fire and put out with a brick.

Posted by: Roger Bournival at December 29, 2003 at 08:57 AM

Its plagiarism,plain and simple.Writers should always give sources of quotes wherever possible.Least she can do is pay a royalty to Clive James.

Posted by: Peter UK at December 29, 2003 at 09:17 AM

When I think of the various lines & ideas that Iíve posted at Lucianne.com or elsewhere & have much later heard used by various columnists &, in one case, by Condi Rice....

Posted by: ForNow at December 29, 2003 at 09:41 AM

Molly. Another Bitter Angry White Liberal. I guess she feels a little guilty about being raised in the wealthiest neighborhood of Houston (not even the Bushes live in River Oaks). Daddy paid for a free ride to the University of Texas and someone told her she was funny when she was stoned/drunk/tripping and near a keyboard. Go polish off another bottle of gin and quit acting like and pretending to talk like a real Texan. Nobody I know says "ol bidness" for "oil business" like you do and I live in the city that lives and breathes the energy business.
Bob
Houston, Texas

Posted by: Bob Carter at December 29, 2003 at 09:43 AM

"For Now"

"When i think of------in one case Condi Rice"

You forgot to finish the thought.. what do you think of? Grandeur?

you lying sack of poo

Posted by: Arvin at December 29, 2003 at 09:44 AM

Molly Ivins is supposed to be funny?

Holy crap!

Posted by: Big Dog at December 29, 2003 at 09:50 AM

She can't steal jokes from her team. Leftwing nutcases don't have a sense of humor or even know what it means.

Posted by: erp at December 29, 2003 at 09:53 AM

She can't steal jokes from her team. Leftwing nutcases don't have a sense of humor or even know what it means.

Posted by: erp at December 29, 2003 at 09:54 AM

"tempest in a very very small teapot...have you ever told a joke that you did not get from someone else? or post a pic of some babe that yo did not get from elsewhere? stop being so small...Molly is grandlady and a chortle at her expense is all that is needed. To make a big thing of this is to make yourself indeed very small"

You'd maybe have a point were it not for Molly modestly declaring that "this was not the most profound observation I have ever made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible." She's laying an implicit proprietorial claim to a specific observation that was Clive James's - not hers. If Molly published the Gettysburg Address in her column and breezily offered that "this was not the most profound observation I have made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible" readers would consider it more than a little presumptuous that she'd given no credit to Lincoln's authorship. If George Bush did it, Molly would be screaming to her laptop like a maddened banshee to ascribe all manner of plaigaristic malevolence to him.

She's a highly paid columnist who is remunerated in the expectation that she won't lift other people's original observations and frame them as her own. She's failed the test and deserves to be called on it.

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at December 29, 2003 at 10:00 AM

Oh come on. I don't find her funny. I don't find Michael Moore funny (occassionally I do find Al Franken funny -- less so all the time) but it is what they bill her as. I'd use New York Times scare quotes but I just prefer a little subtle irony.

Try this: when you're talking to your left wing friends, don't use the word Communist. Use Idealist instead. Particularly when you're referring to famine, genocide, things like that. Drives 'em fuckin' crazy.

Posted by: grayson at December 29, 2003 at 10:02 AM

freddie wrote:
"tempest in a very very small teapot...have you ever told a joke that you did not get from someone else?"

Yes, but most people will not try to pass it off as their own creation. Which is precisely what Ms. Ivins did, as suggested by the quote Tim provides from CNN:

"This was not the most profound observation I have ever made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible."

Get it? "the ... observation I ... made" = "my original thought"

Which it wasn't. By claiming that it was, she officialized her theft.

Posted by: Othello at December 29, 2003 at 10:09 AM

And Roger, I almost pissed myself when I read that.

Posted by: grayson at December 29, 2003 at 10:16 AM

To quote the immortal Milton Berle, "there's no such thing as an old joke."

Posted by: Kevin L. Connors at December 29, 2003 at 10:16 AM

Everything here about Molly is true. Her sham folksiness is insufferable. That's why I quit reading the papers that carry her column. Life's too short.

We really need to spend more time articulating sensible positions and less time giving such phonies more exposure. They don't realize it yet, but their circles of influence are shrinking. They own the old media but there are more and more ways to get the facts without them, more and more points of view, and more people unwilling to accept what people like Molly are trying to spoon feed them.

Posted by: AST at December 29, 2003 at 10:18 AM

Interesting that Molly thinks of walnuts as a stuffing for a condom. Suppose she's ever seen one stuffed with anything else?

Posted by: Jim at December 29, 2003 at 10:19 AM

Why did she steal it anyway? It's not even a funny line. But it "bashes" somebody she wants to bash...

Posted by: John Salmon at December 29, 2003 at 10:38 AM

Molly's has always had plagiarism "issues" - do a Google.

Posted by: Mr. Snarky at December 29, 2003 at 11:02 AM

Isn't it the sin of size-ism to comment on Arnie's bulk?

Who knows how many 'people of size' could be offended?

Posted by: Peggy Sue at December 29, 2003 at 11:02 AM

Molly Ivins should be taken with Howard Dean, "Dick" Gephardt, Jewhater Sharpton, and thrown screaming into a burning volcano.

The world would be a better place without these leftist losers.

Posted by: Arvid Pelshe at December 29, 2003 at 11:13 AM

What was Molly's first instance of plagiarism?

Posted by: inkling at December 29, 2003 at 11:17 AM

Don't call that ol' bat Molly a "Texan." She's a native of California. CAL-I-FORNIA! You know, the SECOND-largest state.

Posted by: Virginius at December 29, 2003 at 11:39 AM

Looks like it's been changed. The 'not the most profound observation I have ever made' part is gone.

Posted by: Adam at December 29, 2003 at 11:53 AM

Would y'all like to trade a Molly Ivins for a Margo Kingston? Maybe a change of scenery would do both a bit of good.

Of course, if during the exchange their planes collided, well, Merry Christmas.

Speaking of which, I spent a couple of days at my mom's. She and my stepdad have full-blown BDS (please click to see the effects of this terrible affliction). Please pray for them.

It was tough to see this at Christmastime. I had to bite my tongue every time I heard "Nazi" and "moron" and "Gropenfuhrer".

So my tongue now looks like Flick's in A Christmas Story, post-frozen lightpole scene.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at December 29, 2003 at 11:53 AM

Tim didn't make a "big thing" of Molly. Molly made a big thing out of Molly, abetted by industrial pallets of Heinz gravy from Sams Club. Ever since Bush evicted her leathery pal Ann Richards from the Texas gubner's mansion, the bitter old cow spends her days in a precarious balancing act atop south Austin barstools. Sad, really; a forlorn, loveless creature in a Stalin print muu-muu, staring at the bottom of a gin and Alfredo sauce cocktail glass, contemplating what could have been.

Quick correction: Faux "populist" Molly was never a student at UT. She is a product of that humble proletarian blue collar institute, Swarthmore. Apparently on a scholarship to the eating team.

Posted by: iowahawk at December 29, 2003 at 12:09 PM

Far be it from me to leap to Molly's defense; but IMHO, recycling memorable turns of phrase is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike plagiarism.

Posted by: Guy T. at December 29, 2003 at 12:32 PM

Dr. Blair,

Molly Ivins is a liberal-hypocrite. The press is made of liberal-hypocrite. Their master is Dean Master.

You cannot touch a Dean Master fan who is a liberal-hypocrite. So, she is untouchable.

There is nothing that can be done. No one can touch her. No one.

Now, if she were not a Democrat, well, then that is a different story.

Ali Karim Bey
Political Analyst and Investigator of Liberal-Hypocrites

Posted by: Ali Karim Bey at December 29, 2003 at 12:56 PM

"Far be it from me to leap to Molly's defense; but IMHO, recycling memorable turns of phrase is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike plagiarism."

Indeed. It's the false claim stuff, along the lines of "this was not the most profound observation I have ever made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible," that leads one to conclude that Molly's turn of phrase, on this occasion, is so like plagiarism that it's almost identical.

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at December 29, 2003 at 01:20 PM

Inkling:
You ask: "What was Molly's first instance of plagiarism?"

That's a tough one. Anyhoo, here's Miss King on Ms. Ivins. If you're scoring at home (if you are, congrats - quite flexible aren't we? on the computer at the same time?), Miss King in a KO in the first round.

http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleid.16894/article_detail.asp

Love that last line, no?

SMG


Posted by: SteveMG at December 29, 2003 at 01:47 PM

My apologies Iowahawk. I knew she wrote some things (I think for the Texas Observer)from Austin and knew Daddy paid for school and added 1 + 1 = 3.
Best regards,
Bob
Houston, Texas

Posted by: Bob Carter at December 29, 2003 at 01:58 PM

Yea, but here's the wonderful thing about Molly -- thanks to her East Coast college eduction, her stint at the New York Times and her writings in publications like The Nation, over the past 20 years to the East Coast media elites she has become the go-to person for all the "inside information" about Texas politics, nevermind the fact that's she more liberal than at least 95 percent of the people in the state.

So, as Iowahawk mentioned above, when Bush defeated her pal Ann Richards for governor in 1994, Molly didn't take it very well and became extremely embittered with GWB. And when the East Coast media came a-callin' in 1999 to find out what George W. Bush was really like in preparation for the 2000 election, a lot of them, of course, went to Molly.

Now, if she had been smart, Ivins would have told her journalist friends and her friends in the left wing of the Democratic party that "you better not underestimate Bush. He had no business beating Ann Richards when she ran for re-election in 1994 but did, and then totally dominated or co-opted the Democratic-controlled Texas Legislature over the next four years." But instead, bitter Molly coined the term "Shrub" and let everyone know that George W. Bush is a semi-literate moron.

With that information in hand, the media proceeded to paint Bush as an idiot, which is thier choice. But the Democrats, including Al Gore, also fell for that line, and as a result Gore prepared for the presidential debates as if Bush would get up there and drool on himself or make farting noises with his armpits. And thanks to Gore's team "misunderestimating" Bush, he ended up in the White House.

So in a way, Molly's mean-spiritedness and her looseness with the truth probably helped George W. Bush win the presidency, and the image she helped create of Bush being an idiot has led not only the Democrats, but people like Chiraq and Schroeder to "misunderestimate" him time and again for the last three years. I'm sure Molly would be pleased as punch to take credit for all that...

Posted by: John at December 29, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Arvin -

When I think of how Condi Rice said something months after I saw a columnist go on about it at length, & that, in turn, months after having said it myself somewhere, Lucianne.com, wherever -- then I feel pleased -- not grandiose but, like they say nowadays, ďvalidated,Ē & possibly honored. Eventually I thought, gee, I should put it on my blog, but that was afterward.

And somebody else may have thought it up too, before I ever thought of it. I'll never even know whether that columnist saw my comment, or Condi read that columnist, or by what path the ďmemeĒ traveled if it traveled at all. But itís nice to think that maybe such people actually saw it. And if they didnít, then itís still nice to think that maybe the thought occurred to me before it occcured to them. In reality? -- it probably occurred independently to quite a few people who never even wrote it down.

But have you really never had an experience like that? Itís an uncommon little pleasure that comes with commenting in public forums, but I didnít think it was that uncommon. I donít see why you knock it.

Posted by: ForNow at December 29, 2003 at 03:08 PM

And he supported the war

The hyperlink for that seems to be broken.

Posted by: Andjam at December 29, 2003 at 03:10 PM

On second thought, my original comment was written with a tone of braggadocious clowning, & the sharp response caught me off balance & so in my second comment I get all too serious. But I donít feel like making the effort to come back & drive all naysayers before me, which of course I could do if I felt a whim to do it.

Posted by: ForNow at December 29, 2003 at 03:25 PM

I will always remember Molly Ivins for predicting the presidential humor famine of 1993-2000:

What's in it for me as a political humorist is that George Bush is just fabulous material. Bush-speak, the thing-thing, that gloriously daffy streak he has - "Read my lips," "90/90 hindsight," "the manhood thing."

Lord, but I would miss that goofy, preppy, golden retriever-like part of his personality, those moments of transcendent dorkiness when we all stand there trying to believe he's just said what he did.

If you have any mercy in your hearts for those who make a living being funny about politics, take pity on us. Mark Russell is going to commit suicide if we elect Bill Clinton. Saturday Night Live will fall on its collective sword. Russell Baker will molt and decline. Mike Royko will be stuck with Chicago and I'll be stuck with Texas.

- Molly Ivins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Election Day, November 3, 1992

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at December 29, 2003 at 03:37 PM

My local paper carries Molly's columns and I don't know why...

Posted by: zzx375 at December 29, 2003 at 04:10 PM

Andjam - The "supported the war" hyperlink works if you subtract off the last "l" on "htmll". Or, cut off everything after "/australia" on the hyperlink and you'll see the Clive James story right at the top.

Posted by: Dylan at December 29, 2003 at 04:30 PM

Link fixed

Posted by: tim at December 29, 2003 at 04:57 PM

Or you could say she pulled a Peggy Noonan: her "thousand points of light" is chronicled in What I Saw At The Revolution, by who?? Peggy Noonan.

Posted by: Alison at December 29, 2003 at 05:00 PM

Another thing about the Ivins' theft is that it's no longer accurate. It describes a bodybuilder primed for a show, totally ripped--not one long past his prime.

Posted by: john at December 29, 2003 at 09:53 PM

Molly Ivins did not go to Swarthmore College: 'Ivins has a B.A. from Smith College, a master's in journalism from Columbia University and studied for a year at the Institute of Political Science in Paris'.

http://www.radford.edu/~gstudies/speakers/ivins/ivins.htm

Posted by: Adam at December 29, 2003 at 10:19 PM

You know, Molly used to be at least occasionally funny once upon a time. I've never minded people picking on the big boys -- it's the American (and I suspect the Australian as well) way. The rub for me is that Molly is a September 10th person, telling September 10th Jokes in a post September 11th world. Not funny anymore. And while it's true that there are really no new jokes, actual plagiarism in a professional writer is not a joke. For shame, Molly! Now Florence King, on the other hand, is still funny.....

Posted by: Piso Mojado at December 29, 2003 at 11:39 PM

Well, so far the above postings prove that not only Mrs King, but NONE of the above posters is 'entirely Mollified'...

Indeed not. :)

Posted by: Eye Opener at December 30, 2003 at 01:20 AM

Adam:

Molly Ivins did not go to Swarthmore College: 'Ivins has a B.A. from Smith College,

Mike Dukakis (our old governor) went to Swarthmore; Smith is the other side of the same coin.

Posted by: Roger Bournival at December 30, 2003 at 01:42 AM

LOVE Florence King. Loved her before hearing about the smackdown on Molly Ivins; love her even more now. My family's been in the Deep South since the mid-1700's, and King's portrayal of Southern ladies and gentlemen is right on the money (just in case any of you who enjoy her humor were rash enough to suspect her accuracy).

Posted by: Kimberly at December 30, 2003 at 01:45 AM

molly should follow dean wormer's advice: "fat, drunk, & stupid is no way to go through life.

Posted by: paul at December 30, 2003 at 01:52 AM

If you're gonna steal a joke at least make sure it's funny.

Posted by: ColoradoConservtive at December 30, 2003 at 04:00 AM

You really consider this a reason to get worked up? A decade old recycled joke?

Sad.

Posted by: bored at December 30, 2003 at 06:13 AM

bob c,

from r.o. houston and went to the same priveleged prep school dear molly attended years before-

my 70's graduating class was apolitical , self-involved and pretty useless, but at least it never seemed to succumb to the posturing of WLG- white liberal guilt, affluent white liberal guilt that ivins makes her lucre from.

as a commentator, dear molly is BEYOND partisan- she is party-sans soul. but, as an entertainer, she is funny. don't most of us think it is funny how her feel-good democrat leanings make her into the mistress of mean? don't many of us laugh when she, as an enlightened egalitarian liberal, stereotypes texans as backward, 'unedjicated' idiots? can't we all find high humor in the mockery and punning of birthnames- such as her oh-so-clever cutting down of 'bush' to 'shrub' size? and how hilarious it is when she, the good/ nice liberal, pokes nasty fun at a person's looks, i.e. arnold and the walnuts?

nevermind the plaigarism. her efforts to discredit all libertarian/ republican/ conservative types by sneeringly using texan regional colloquialism and ridiculing peoples' names and looks are just comedic.

let's give her her due. she's a true clown

Posted by: charlotte at December 30, 2003 at 07:07 AM

Bored, let's put it in terms you might be able to grasp:

Clive James is 64. He makes his living with words. It's how he feeds himself. Words = food for Clive.

Molly Ivins stole Clive's words. Therefore, Molly Ivins stole food out of an old man's mouth.

Though looking at old Molly, I guess her stealing food from anyone should come as no surprise.

Posted by: E.A. at December 30, 2003 at 07:15 AM

Molly Ivins, humorist? What would that make Mencken or Albert Jay Nock or P.J. O'Rourke? Or Twain? No doubt anyone with a modicum of a sense of humour is incredulous when they her La Ivins (or Mike Moore and, sadly nowadays, Franken) played up as a humorist, but there's a pretty reasonable (though not justifying) explanation for this: Ivins is of the utterly humourless boomer generation, which, as far as I can tell, has only produced two genuine humorists, O'Rourke and George Carlin. And even though the boomers may be impervious to good humour, it makes sense that they would nevertheless have something resembling it, hence the likes of Molly Ivins. Humour is, after all, one of the oldest and most formidable of human (mainly Western) institutions, and a single generation of fools (no matter how stupid and no matter how big their trust funds are) couldn't be expected to destroy it.

And look at the sort of 'humour' that Ivins finds humorous. Mark Russell? I've seen his 'stuff' on PBS and CNN (go figure), and once saw him live at the Alaska state fair. Few people showed up to see his act, and by the time he was finished their was virtually no one there, just a few people (probably right-wingers) snickering at him (not WITH him). Russell's humour consists of little more than humorless cheapshots at right-wing politicians and sentimental pseudo-comic tributes to left-wing ones. Oh, right, and some real swell piano playing, no? (Victor Borga eat your heart out!) Here's Russell's take on White Water (and, by default, Chappaquidick): "Best brake for them [Republicans] since Chappaquidick, it's a shaaaaaaaaame!"

And Russell Baker? He's not at all funny, just pretentious and condescending. And, when writing about other humorists (which is to say REAL humorists), he's appalling: in his article on H.L. Mencken in the January 16, 2003 issue of the New York Review of Books (yeah, yeah, I subscribe), Baker pays little tribute to Mencken's talents and achivements as literary man or humorist, but instead devotes much of the article to taking ol' Henry over the sticks a la P.C. for his demeaning remarks about blacks and Jews. Baker does excerpt some passages of Mencken's stuff that are absolute gems (such as his description of the Progressive Party's '48 v.p. nominee), but is mainly concerned with trashing him, a lot of stuff about how heavy handed Mencken was and how he overused such boilerplate as "imbecile" and "mountebank." Yeah, those words may be boilerplate, but it was Mencken, after all, who popularized them, thus (eventually) MAKING them boilerplate. Does Russell Baker have a comparable literary or comedic achievement to tell us about?

Of course Mencken is funnier than Baker-- is it really necessary to say that?-- so you'd think that Baker would be a bit more ginger and circumspect while writing about him. But no: that would require some sense, which means the ability to be both serious and funny (they can't be disentangled). Russell Baker is not funny.

So this is the sort of garbage that Molly Ivins finds 'humorous.' But consider this: it is possible that she may have a sense of humour after all, and that she promotes the likes of Baker and Russell merely out of respect for fellow travelers. Note how she only steals jokes from right-wingers. Maybe she doesn't really think her left-wing bros are funny. Maybe her next victim will be South Park or Rob Long.

Or maybe not: it may just be coincidence that she plagiarizes people she disagrees with politically. In fact, I'm inclined to believe the latter, because Molly would have to like right-wing humour (or, for that matter, any non-lefty humour), and in order to do that she'd have to understand this elementary truth: that political correctness and humour mix about as well as water and potassium.

No, Molly Ivins isn't funny.

Posted by: Leftcoast at December 30, 2003 at 09:54 AM

She is funny-looking, though. Where I come from we'd say she looks "like she got ate by a wolf and shit over a cliff."

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at December 30, 2003 at 03:15 PM

Molly Ivins is a factually devoid,intellectually vacuous left-wing moron. I saw that icon of contemporary liberal idiocy on CNN the other day and I can't believe that anybody could ascribe any legitimacy to anything that comes out of her mouth. And CNN wonders why they're getting their rears handed to them by Fox News.

Posted by: Gary Houston at January 1, 2004 at 05:33 AM

As Terry Pratchett put it in the introduction to "The Nanny Ogg Cookbook": "If [she stole from multiple sources] then that counts as research and it's perfectly all right." Of course, Terry was talking about a fat, alcoholic, promiscuous old witch... oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at January 2, 2004 at 06:21 AM

Leftcoast. Hey, how about Dave Barry or Mark Steyn,
both of which have left me ROFLMAO.

Posted by: t-rex at January 2, 2004 at 06:29 PM

"...recycling memorable turns of phrase is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike plagiarism."

I believe Douglas Adams would say that you have hit the nail on what is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the head.

Posted by: sulla at January 3, 2004 at 11:50 AM

Sorry Virginius, California is not the second largest state. You don't want to forget Alaska or they may get mad, split themselves in half, and make Texas the third largest state.

Posted by: Lloyd Petre at January 3, 2004 at 03:53 PM