I didn’t pay much attention to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. At that point in my life, I didn’t pay much attention to politics. But I remember the time. I considered myself a libertarian, but I couldn’t believe all the nonsense that the right-wing did to the Clintons.
And that was all the Monica Lewinsky scandal was: an opportunity for the right-wing to further attack Bill Clinton. It’s kind of hard to imagine now. I mean, Bill Clinton had an affair. It was improper. He didn’t have an open relationship with his wife. And Lewinsky was a subordinate.
But the great wrong done to her way by the right-wing with the fawning help and approval of the mainstream media. Ultimately, it didn’t really affect Clinton all that much. But Lewinsky became an object of public shame. She was only 22 when the affair started. But that hardly mattered. She was a woman so it was open season.
I didn’t know quite how bad it was until I watched this excellent segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “Public Shaming.”
According to Oliver, the comedian who was the worst when it came to attacking Monica Lewinsky was Jay Leno. On one level, that’s not at all surprising. Although I thought Leno was pretty good early on in this career, his work on The Tonight Show was very much like the meals I always imagine him eating: large and poorly prepared.
Monica Lewinsky jokes are not hard to write. You can see upwards of a dozen groaners in the video. So of course Leno dipped into that well deep and often.
What does surprise me is who the consumers for this material were. For example, my mother used to watch his show. I remember Leno was seen as the middle-of-the-road comedian who didn’t offend anyone.
But I probably should have known. Whenever something is held up as an ideal for middle-America, it usually means that it is overflowing with the prejudices of the time.
John Oliver’s Response
In the image above, you can see that Jay Leno presented a Dr Seuss parody to go after Lewinsky. It’s called, “The Slut in the Hat.”
So John Oliver offered up the following Dr Seuss parody: “Oh, the Places You Can Go Fuck Yourself, Jay Leno!”
But I will give Leno this: he has largely gone away. But I’m sure we can count on him to turn up every now and then to complain about how people are doing things that he doesn’t like. You know: things he used to do.
Images taken from the John Oliver video under Fair Use.