NPR Game Show Host Unloads the Pope Jokes, Starting with He's a 'Gay Icon'

NPR's weekend game show "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!" usually saves most of its topical humor for supposed White House drunk George W. Bush or Dick Cheney the Grim Reaper for all the usual smug-liberal laugh lines. On Saturday, host Peter Sagal went on an extended comedy routine with five jokes mocking Pope Benedict XVI, beginning with the notion that he's "another famous gay icon."

By contrast, a review of the last four shows finds there have been zero Barack Obama jokes. However, on March 10, they made fun of Rick Santorum saying if elected, he would not recite the names of former presidents to make excuses for himself. This prompted a "caliphate" joke at the Catholic candidate's expense.

This is how this week's Pope-mocking was rolled out:

PETER SAGAL: Roy, it's a right of passage these days for celebrities to release a signature scent: Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, they're all hawking perfumes. This week, we learned of another who has joined that roster. Who?

ROY BLOUNT: It's a real celebrity, one of the biggest celebrities in the world. I happen to know the answer to this. It is the pope.

SAGAL: It is Pope Benedict XVI, yes. Italian perfumer Silvana Casoli creates perfumes for both Madonna and Sting. So it seemed natural that she would be the one chosen to create a fragrance for another famous gay icon. (Laughter)

But unlike your average celebrity scent, this perfume is meant for the Pope's use only. Casoli says the perfume's infused with some of the Pontiff's favorite things: lemon, fresh spring grass, tree blossoms and anything that covers up the smell of old guy. (Laughter)

So like I said, it's only for his use but we're hoping, you know, the Vatican had some trouble recently, they may need some income. Maybe he'll sell it. Can you imagine the glossy TV ads for the pope's perfume? A room with white billowing curtains, a gorgeous model sweeps into view, her gown swirling along her long legs. She whispers, "I'm wearing Pope." (Laughter)

CHARLIE PIERCE: Well, the reason they can't sell it, Peter, is the only way you can make it work is if there's a little priest following behind you with a little thing burning. (Laughter)

SAGAL: Yes. Maybe he's going to create like a pope product empire. He can sell jeans: "nothing gets between me and my Benedicts."

How about breakfast cereal? Frosted Mini Popes. (Laughter) He can be in the ad. You know, it's like hey, let's give this cereal to Popey, Popey condemns everything. Oh look, Popey likes it! (Laughter)

Like other liberal media outlets, NPR likes mocking the Catholics, and there shall be no jokes about "Frosted Mini Muftis." ABC News reported this story, but also suggested that Casoli may be the one engaged in commercial hype.

Casoli is not new to "spiritually-inspired" scents. She created two perfumes for pilgrims on pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. They were called "Water of Faith" and "Water of Hope" and were so popular that priests presented samples to the pope, which gave him the idea that he would like his very own...

The Vatican does not comment on products used by the pope and the pope's image is carefully protected from inappropriate commercial exploitation, but until someone comes forward to deny this, Casoli will probably get a rush of snooping, sniffing fans wanting to smell that oh so special fragrance.

Sagal (rhymes with bagel) doesn't find anything Obama does or says funny. This is the March 10 discussion mocking Santorum's coming caliphate:

PETER SAGAL: Tom, one of the themes you hear on the right from time to time is that President Obama  is always blaming President Bush for his own troubles. So Rick Santorum, fed up with this, made a unique campaign promise this week. He said if elected he will never, ever under any circumstances mention what?

TOM BODETT [the Motel 6 guy]: Barack Obama?

SAGAL: Not only Barack Obama.

BODETT: Or President Bush.

SAGAL: Not only. Keep going.

BODETT: They're still not mentioning him. Any other president.

SAGAL: In fact that's what he said. He said he will never mention any former president's name.

BODETT: Well, if he's going to...

SAGAL: That's what he said.

BODETT: Well, because he's going to be the new caliphate.

"Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me" is where NPR's reputation for civil discourse goes to die. The "Contact Us" page is here.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis