Prop comic Gallagher replaces top McCain strategist

by Brad Jacobson

Trailing in both national and state polls with Election Day drawing near, John McCain’s campaign announced this morning that legendary prop-comic Gallagher — famed for smashing produce, especially watermelons, with a sledgehammer — will take over strategy and messaging from Karl Rove disciple Steve Schmidt. It’s a major shakeup in a campaign already known for embracing the unconventional.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told Joe Scarborough, “We’ve done pretty well pulling a new rabbit out of the hat every day. But Gallagher is the godfather of prop comedy, a master of the random tactic. Who better to keep Barack Obama off balance?”

McCain senior advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer, appearing on the Today show, explained the move to co-host Meredith Vieira.

“Sarah Palin and I, like most Americans, may not know the wonky details of our Constitution, such as the role of the Vice President. But we know funny when we see it. Like this Gallagher gem about Senator Kennedy’s brain tumor — ‘He wanted to have a hole in his head like the rest of his family.’ Or how about this witty side-splitter, Meredith — ‘How does a slut feel? Whore-a-ble.’ [Ed. Note: Actual Gallagher jokes. Send hate mail directly to Gallagher.]

When Vieira called the jokes “kind of lame and in poor taste,” Pfotenhauer replied, “Well, maybe East Coast elitist types won’t get the joke, Meredith, but real Americans still enjoy laughter.”

John McCain, stumping today in the western Pennsylvania factory town of Ambridge, climbed the dais pulling a large cloth bag behind him. “So have you heard the news?” he asked the crowd, then retrieved a Ziploc freezer bag stuffed with 15 lbs. of raw pork chops coated in Shake ‘N Bake. Holding it aloft and giving it a shake, McCain said, “We’re really going toshake things up from now until November 4! Huh?! Huh?! Huh?!

Gallagher, wielding his sledgehammer, joined McCain on stage. Taking the bag of uncooked breaded pork chops from McCain, he placed it on the podium and asked the audience, “Who’s hungry for change in Washington?” The crowd whooped and hollered, “We are!” A man from the back followed that with, “Unless that change involves a black man!” Gallagher then said, “OK, if any of you are keeping kosher, cover your mouths,” before bringing the sledgehammer down and sending hunks of raw pork sailing through the crowd.

Meanwhile, speaking to a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sarah Palin ended her speech by telling the hooded members, “I’m really proud to welcome Gallagher to our campaign to clean-up Washington. But,” she said with a wink and a smile, “we do things a little differently where I’m from.” The chapter’s Grand Wizard then placed a watermelon on the podium and handed Palin a shotgun. The Alaskan governor took several paces back and fired, turning the crowd into a sea of white and pink and black seeds.

Dennis Miller, former Saturday Night Live star turned conservative comedian and talk radio host, called the idea, “Genuis.” On his talk radio program, Miller said, “It’s a shot of tactical testosterone directly into John McCain’s ball sac, my friends. You think the McCain crew kept you guessing before? You never know what the G-man is gonna throw ya? Boom — a rubber chicken! Boom — a photo of Barack dressed like an Islamic terrorist! Boom — a giant foam question mark, followed by another rubber chicken.” Miller also made the keen observation, “This will make the 1918 Yankees acquisition of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox look like the CW Network’s signing of Shannon Doherty to reprise her role as Brenda in the new 90210.”

Speaking with Chris Matthews on Hardball, comedian and Real Time host Bill Maher said, “I’m pretty sure, Chris, this is going to help Gallagher’s career more than John McCain’s. Most people under 40 never heard of Gallagher before this. Soon, though, every American will know that Gallagher is to watermelons what Sarah Palin is to the Constitution and moose.”

In another campaign stop today in Arizona, where the senator is suddenly in danger of losing his home state, McCain stepped up attacks on his rival.

“My friends, Senator Obama talks about cutting spending with a scalpel. We need more than a scalpel, my friends. We need a hatchet. A hatchet and a sledgehammer.” On cue, Gallagher strode to the stage, watermelon and sledgehammer in hand. As the comedian prepared, McCain said, “You know, my opponents have said lots of horrible things about my supporters in recent days. They’ve accused you of being racists. And you know what, I couldn’t agree with them more…I couldn’t agree with you less…I couldn’t find you more repulsive…I mean less likable…I, I…oh, f**k it. Just hit the watermelon, would you, Gallagher!”

Cross-posted from The Wounded-Courier, the satirical news division of MediaBloodhound.

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