It was inevitable, even without his National Guard problems, that Dan Quayle would launch a thousand jokes.
Americans love to joke about their public figures, especially politicians who move from unknown to nationally famous in an instant - as happened to Quayle, who was only the junior senator from Indiana until George Bush picked him as his vice presidential ticket mate.Quayle's name lends itself to puns. And the questions that arose about whether Quayle had used family influence to get into the National Guard and stay out of the draft invited jokes at his expense.
So it was no time at all before Americans were asking each other:
-What do you get when you cross a hawk with a chicken?
Satirist Mark Russell - even before Quayle was selected - commented that "Bush-Quayle" sounded to him like the name of a hunting magazine.
Bob Hope said he has golf balls older than Quayle.
Jay Leno, filling in for Johnny Carson on NBC, said he ran into Pat Roberton and Dan Quayle "swapping war stories."
Leno joshed about what Guardsmen do: "You just kind of sit around waiting for something to happen. If that isn't training for the vice presidency, I don't know what is."
He disclosed what Quayle has that his Democratic counterpart, Lloyd Bentsen, lacks: "A blow drier and a pulse."
Then Carson came back on "The Tonight Show" just in time to offer:
"Quayle is not going to be helped by that film that comes out about his military career - "30 Seconds Over Indianapolis."
Russell, on public television, said the GOP ticket consists of two combat veterans - Bush, a Navy pilot in World War II, "who was shot down in the Pacific and Dan Quayle, who was bombed in New Orleans."
Making the rounds in Washington were these jokey questions:
-Why does the chicken cross the road?
-To join the National Guard.
-What's the difference between a turkey, a chicken and a Quayle?
-There is no difference.