Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

In this year of electile dysfunction, with just a few days left before the race for the presidency crosses the finish line, political jokes can be very powerful. That’s why so many of them get elected.

Many mean things have been said about politics and politicians. Will Rogers explained, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” Jay Leno observed, “If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.”

More than 2,500 years ago, the fabulist Aesop observed, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” Ambrose Bierce sardonically defined politics as “A strife of interest masquerading as a contest of principles.” Robert Louis Stevenson noted that “politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” President Ronald Reagan quipped, “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” H. L. Mencken defined a politician as “a man who will double-cross that bridge when he comes to it.”

That’s the same H. L. Mencken who observed, “Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule and both commonly succeed, and are right.” Mencken’s contemporary, Clarence Darrow, echoed that sentiment: “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it.”

In support of Darrow’s point, remember that Jefferson did it, Nixon did it and Truman did it. So any Tom, Dick and Harry can become President of the United States!

Mark Twain loved to pick on members of Congress: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” he declared, as well as “Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it” and “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” His sharpest congressional barb goes like this: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

One of the great fanciful etymologies is for the word politics: Poly, as in polygon, polygamy, polyglot and polytheistic, means “many” — and tics, well, tics are blood-sucking parasites!

Politicians have been riddled by riddles:

  • How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
  • Have you heard about the new dance called The Politician? You take three steps forward, two steps backward, then side-step, side-step and reverse direction.
  • What do politicians and diapers have in common? They both need changing regularly — and for the same reason.
  • What’s the difference between a centaur and a senator? One is half man and half horse’s ass — and the other is a creature in mythology.

In 1840, William Henry Harrison became the first presidential candidate to campaign actively. His was the first campaign slogan: “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” which was also part of the first campaign song:

What’s the cause

Of this commotion, motion, motion,
Our country through?
It is the ball a-rolling on

For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
And with them

We’ll beat little Van, Van, Van,
Van is a used up man.
And with them we’ll beat little Van.

“Ball a-rolling” refers to one group of Whig party members who rolled a 10-foot, paper, leather and tin ball emblazoned with pro-Harrison slogans for hundreds of miles from one campaign rally to another. The song gave us the enduring expression “keep the ball rolling.”.

“Little Van” refers to the sitting president, Martin Van Buren, who, at 5 feet, 6 inches, was our second shortest president (after James Madison, all 5 feet, 4 inches of him). So casting aspersions on a political candidate’s diminutive height (as in “Little Marco”) is not new to modern politics


At North Coast Repertory Theatre on Monday, November 14, starting at 7:30 pm, Richard Lederer will be performing “Zootopia: A Centennial Celebration.” The program will feature a history of our San Diego Zoo and a caravan of animals that run, jump, swim, fly, burrow and crawl through our English language. For information, please call 858 481 1055. All proceeds will benefit NCRT.