Hu­mor­ous mem­o­ries brought smiles to sor­row­ful farewell.

Mourn­ers re­call jokes, one-lin­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DEB RIECHMANN

Mem­o­ries of Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated sense of hu­mor drew laugh­ter and brought smiles to the sor­row­ful mourn­ing of the death of Amer­ica’s 41st pres­i­dent.

Pres­i­den­tial his­to­rian Jon Meacham re­counted how co­me­dian Dana Car­vey once said that the key to do­ing his iconic im­per­son­ation of Bush was to mimic “Mr. Rogers try­ing to be John Wayne.”

That prompted chuck­les that rang from the vaulted arches in­side the Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

Mr. Meacham said that while cam­paign­ing and ask­ing for votes in New Hamp­shire, Bush mis­tak­enly grabbed the hand of a depart­ment store man­nequin. “When he re­al­ized his mis­take, he said ‘Never know. Gotta ask.’”

The former pres­i­dent, who died Fri­day at age 94, of­ten found his tongue twisted and rou­tinely ut­tered funny one-lin­ers.

Look­ing ahead to the 1988 elec­tion, Bush once said: “It’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that the un­de­cid­eds could go one way or the other.”

And Mr. Meacham said that late in his pres­i­dency, Bush’s tongue ran amok when he said: “We are en­joy­ing slug­gish times, but we’re not en­joy­ing them very much.”

The former pres­i­dent’s eldest son, former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, got in on the act, telling the packed cathe­dral that his fa­ther was no Fred As­taire on the dance floor and couldn’t stom­ach veg­eta­bles, es­pe­cially broc­coli. While pres­i­dent, the el­der Bush fa­mously de­clared his dis­like of broc­coli.

Ge­orge W. Bush said his fa­ther also shared jokes via email with his cir­cle of friends. “His grad­ing sys­tem for the qual­ity of the joke was clas­sic Ge­orge Bush: The rare sevens and eights were con­sid­ered huge win­ners, most of them off-color,” the younger Bush said.

He said his dad re­ally got the last laugh be­cause he chose former Sen. Alan K. Simp­son to be one of the peo­ple to speak at Wed­nes­day’s cer­e­mony.

“He placed great value on a good joke. That’s why he chose Simp­son to speak,” the younger Bush said.

Mr. Simp­son said his friend never lost his sense of hu­mor.

“He had a very se­ri­ous flaw known by all close to him: He loved a good joke — the richer the bet­ter,” Mr. Simp­son said. “And he threw his head back and gave that great laugh, but he never, ever could re­mem­ber a punch­line. And I mean never.”

“Hu­mor is the uni­ver­sal sol­vent against the abra­sive el­e­ments of life,” Mr. Simp­son con­tin­ued. “He never hated any­one. He knew what his mother and my mother al­ways knew: Ha­tred

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