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September 19, 2019

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On the unintentional comedic stylings of John Ensign

John Ensign’s future in the United States Senate may be limited, but his future as a stand-up comedian is assured.

During the few minutes Monday that KXNT radio host Alan Stock allowed the scandalized senator to present unchallenged talking points on his scandal while scandalously not asking important questions about payoffs and potential lawbreaking, Ensign still managed to create enough LOLs to break a teen texter’s fingers.

A comic contortionist who can keep a straight face through it all? Call the Improv.

Let’s revisit the Ensign routine, although I warn you that it may cause stomach-busting guffaws:

“If I resign we will have a second Senate race. The people who want to defeat Harry Reid should think about that. Another race would take attention and resources away from the Reid race. You would have a splitting of resources, and I think that hurts the conservative cause.”

John Ensign, selflessly staying in the U.S. Senate to help the GOP and the conservative movement? Cue the laugh track.

So it helps the conservative cause having a values conservative there who violated every value he claimed to represent and who has actually put self ahead of party and the U.S. Senate? This is helpful?

As Donald O’Connor famously crooned in “Singin’ in the Rain” a half-century ago: Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh, don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?

And that bit about Reid? That is material other budding comedians may well steal. After years of making the “people who want to defeat Harry Reid” believe he is not one of them because of that famous nonaggression pact, Ensign suddenly is willing to throw Reid under the bus so it doesn’t roll over him? Now that is a good joke.

Yes, Reid’s name is red meat for the partisans, but does Ensign think they don’t recall the inside joke that he has been mum about Reid as they begged him for sustenance? I doubt it.

A side note on the nonaggression pact: It has always been an unbalanced accord in Reid’s favor. Cui bono? The guy with the ever-shaky poll numbers who would rather not have the state’s most popular (before June 16) elected official helping candidates against him or … the other guy?

The issue of divided resources also is risible. What do you think costs the party more — Ensign there or not there? Who do you think the Republicans would rather have occupying that seat in 2010 — an exposed hypocrite who is a national laughingstock and GOP albatross or a freshly appointed clean horse (hello, Rep. Dean Heller) the Democrats would have little chance to defeat and who could give buoyancy to a state top-of-the-ticket also weighed down by the state joke, aka Gov. Jim Gibbons?

Tough choice there. What a card that Ensign is.

“A lot of people running for office next year ... They actually want me involved in their campaigns. And so I want to be helpful without being hurtful.”

A lot of people? That is rich.

The only two I know of — and I am sure they regret saying so — are Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden, who are running against Reid. Most Republicans on the ballot next year would hope Ensign would be standing with their opponents.

As for being helpful without being hurtful, time for comic Ensign to add a magician’s touch to his new act. How could he be helpful? Disappear, perhaps?

“I recommended him (Doug Hampton). I didn’t say, ‘Hey, hire him. (I said) Hey, would you interview him?’ It’s interesting that the vast number of people did not hire him. Only a couple of people (did).”

I can’t breathe I am laughing so hard, folks. And I am sure Doug Hampton is, too. A U.S. senator calls someone regulated by the federal government and asks the executive to “interview” a senatorial pal (or so they thought) and there is no implicit pressure to retain the guy?

Get me some oxygen. Is this guy serious?

How telling, too, that Ensign further incriminates himself by saying he talked to a “vast” number of people about hiring Hampton. Vast? Really?

And then the cheap shot, sure to elicit audience groans, by implying Hampton was so incompetent that Ensign could only get two of the “vast” to hire him? That Hampton must really be a schnook, the senator seems to be implying. Hilarious.

I wonder what kind of comedy we might have been treated to if Stock had only asked still-unanswered questions about the obvious engineering of that severance masquerading as a gift and about the alleged breaking of laws governing lobbying and campaign disclosure.

That surely would have been a laugh riot.

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