Saying whatever is on their minds

Sydney Morning Herald
7 May, 2007
By Aaron Timms

With so many candidates clamouring for top spot over the past week, the time has come for a mid-year (OK, early May) review of current standings on the gaffe hit parade.

Bill Heffernan

Has roared back into form but questions remain about his consistency at the highest level. Last week's gaffe came in two stages. In the first he reiterated that members of the priesthood should be allowed to marry because "priests, like the rest of us, wake up with a horn at four in the morning".

Some may question whether "the rest of us" really do wake up in the manner described but it is important to remember that Heffernan has long argued that all human beings have penises. It's been one of the defining aspects of his parliamentary career, along with the scrupulous attention he has brought to the business of misreading Comcar records. The US columnist Michael Kinsley once said: "A gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth." In this case, a gaffe is when a politician accidentally thinks all women have penises.

The next step, of course, was to repeat that Julia Gillard was "deliberately barren". If women, "like the rest of us", wake up with a horn at four in the morning, how in God's name are they ever going to be able to have children? From personal experience, I can attest that giving birth to a child is difficult when you are saddled with the ungainly baggage of the male reproductive organs. Arnold Schwarzenegger did it in Junior but he also starred in a film in which Danny DeVito was meant to be his twin, so it seems pretty clear that his whole genetic radar was a bit out of whack. Heffernan is back among the gaffes, yes - but he still has a lot of work to do before he can claim back top spot.

Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly

Still the king. OK, he has been keeping a low profile of late, but so what? The next comment linking sexual assault to methods of marinating lamb shanks can surely only be a few months away.

George Bush

It has been a disappointing 12 months for the former king. Sure, we had "the Google" a few months ago, in which Bush boldly took the definite article where no definite article had ever gone before, and there was the "Yo Blair" conversation before that - but "the Google" was no more than a weak echo of the "internets" gaffe from the 2004 presidential election, and the Blair comment wasn't really a gaffe so much as a conversation about jumpers. Big difference.

Alexander Downer

Has done nothing. Needs to lift his game. Source: The Sun-Herald

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