On Thursday night's All Things Considered on National Public Radio, the anchors read complaint letters from listeners about a segment on Wednesday mocking Rick Perry with a George W. Bush impersonator.
NPR's website described their mentality in doing this story: "A Texas governor with a little bit of swagger and a heavy emphasis on his Christian faith, is running for president. It all feels a little familiar. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry has been called 'George W. Bush on steroids.' But how much do the two men overlap in style and substance? To answer that question, Robert Siegel talks with someone who knows George W. Bush's mannerisms better than almost anyone: presidential impersonator John Morgan."
Siegel began by declaring the NPR thought process on cowboy governors: "Texas Governor Rick Perry's entry into the GOP presidential race started us thinking, and not altogether seriously.First, Governor Perry struck several non-Texans on our staff as sounding a lot like his predecessor in Austin, George W. Bush." He continued:
SIEGEL: That's Governor Perry, second to any candidate who has declared state days of prayer for rain and who's been known to pack a laser-sighted pistol while jogging is going to be grist for comic impersonators. George W. Bush certainly was.
JOHN MORGAN: Somebody made little bumper stickers in Washington that say, duck, duck, goose, Cheney's loose! That's just a little joke we have inside the belt loop.
SIEGEL: That's not President Bush. That is impersonator John Morgan, of Orlando, Florida. He's been doing his vocal and physical version of our 43rd president ever since 2003.
And Mr. Morgan, do I have it right that you're still getting work as George W. Bush?
MORGAN: Yes. My calendar has never been more Bush-ified. (LAUGHTER)
SIEGEL: Well, here's the question. Is Rick Perry, who's seeking the Republican nomination and who is governor of Texas, someone you could imagine transitioning into?
MORGAN: Well, you know, I was laying in bed the other night awake and I was saying my prayers and I kind of said, Lord, is there anything you want to tell me before I drift off? And this thought came to my mind: RickPerryImpersonator.com. (LAUGHTER)
SIEGEL: Now, how similar are George W. Bush and Rick Perry?
MORGAN: Well, honestly, I think I'll have to study hard to find the differences.
SIEGEL: They're that close?
MORGAN: Well, if you lived there, you'd think these two guys aren't anything alike. What are you talking about? Because you don't hear the accent.
MORGAN: But to the rest of us Americans, gosh, they're like two peas in a pod.
Siegel also insulted Perry by suggesting he may quickly become a bust, yesterday's news, making any impression worthless: "Now, I should say here that, on the subject of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, at this point in the nominating season, for all we know come this spring, he'll be as significant a presidential figure as Senator Fred Thompson was at that time four years ago. Looking at the field, if you might have a future to go elsewhere, can you imagine, say, doing a Mitt Romney?" Morgan said all his impressions end up sounding like Bush.
These are the complaint letters the co-anchors selected:
SIEGEL: David Bourgeois of Summerville, South Carolina, was not amused. He writes this: "It is sad to hear an impersonator poking fun at Bush and Perry during primetime. The election process is important and ought to be treated as such. I don't recall you airing an Obama impersonator before."
MELISSA BLOCK: And Christine Rodas of West Creek, New Jersey, writes: "Sorry, ATC, your segment on the Bush impersonator just did not meet your usual high standards. Not only was it irrelevant, it wasn't even funny. Why waste valuable program time on something so trivial? She concludes: Although I did not vote for the man, I think it is time to stop using George W. Bush for cheap laughs."