"Hi, I'm Dan Quayle," piped the vice president-elect to a woman customer in a fast food restaurant on the morning before he was sworn in. "Who are you?"
"I'm your Secret Service agent," she replied.That tidbit in The Washington Post was good for a chuckle.
But embarrassment was the only proper response when on inaugural eve Quayle publicly quoted Winston Churchill as saying, "There's nothing more exhilarating in life than being shot at without result."
Unfortunately, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was not there to help his former adversary deal with another identity crisis.
Had the Texas Democrat been present, perhaps he could have suggested something like, "Mr. Vice President-elect, you're no Winston Churchill."
Surely, the losing candidate for the vice presidency could have reminded the winner that the late British statesman was speaking from personal experience about being shot at in a war in which his life was at risk.
The record discloses that by joining the National Guard Quayle avoided the draft and evaded the Vietnam War.
Nothing wrong with that, insists the former weekend warrior who now is only a heartbeat from the presidency.
Perhaps, but certainly it should forever discourage Quayle from comparing the verbal flak he got during the campaign to real war, which maims and kills.
Next time, instead of quoting Churchill, The Heartbeat Kid - at 41 the first vice president born after World War II - might simply say, "They never laid a glove on me," and let it go at that.
John Hargrove, playing Quayle in a political comedy troupe in a Washington night club, delivers these lines:
"People say I don't know the pain and trauma of the Vietnam War. But I've experienced it just as much as anyone who's seen the movie or ordered Time-Life Books."
Admittedly, that kind of humor is hard, perhaps even cruel. There no doubt will be less of it now that Quayle has demonstrated he can take it and fight back to win.