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Gary Johnson’s zinger heard ‘round the world

Former N.M. Gov. Gary Johnson

Johnson’s comment about dogs creating more ‘shovel-ready jobs’ than Obama – actually said first by Rush Limbaugh – earns former governor attention at GOP presidential debate

Yes, former N.M. Gov. Gary Johnson is still a presidential candidate, though most people paying marginal attention to the GOP primary probably didn’t know it.

Until Thursday night.

After being excluded from a number of debates, Johnson was finally allowed into one by Fox News. And while the media focused on the fighting between frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Johnson got credit for the best line of the night.

Near the end of the debate, Johnson had this zinger:

“My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”

Watch it here:

The crowd cheered. The other candidates laughed. And the media found something to talk about besides the Perry/Romney fight.

“For a candidate who is clocking in somewhere between asterisk and one percent in polling, the former New Mexico governor had a moment with his ‘my neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready projects than this president’ line,” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote in declaring Johnson one of the debate’s winners. “It will be the most replayed line of the night — without question.”

The Hill said Johnson “seemed nervous” through most of the debate but “pulled himself together for one of the evening’s more memorable lines.”

Afterward, a Fox News online poll (that’s not scientific) had Johnson coming in second among the candidates who participated in the debate.


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Rush’s line

Johnson released a statement after the debate saying he “made it clear that he offers a real alternative to ‘business-as-usual’ in the Republican presidential field.

“From individual liberties to drug policy to immigration, too often the Republican field has sounded like a chorus rather than an honest dialogue,” Johnson said. “I am committed to bringing truth and real-world approaches to those and other issues, not just sound bites. Tonight’s debate was an opportunity to do that, and I suspect many Americans were ready to listen.”

Johnson then took to Twitter to reveal a truth about the line that got him all the attention:

“Re: the dogs, I understand Rush Limbaugh made the same point. Credit to Rush for a great and very true line.”

Politico also pointed that out with a headline that screamed, “Rush made Johnson’s joke first.”

‘No chance to be the Republican nominee’

Johnson has had a difficult time getting the attention of the national media. Even though he’s polled as well as other candidates that have gotten more media attention (and by “as well” we’re talking less than 2 percent), Johnson has been excluded from all but the first debate – until Thursday night.

He joined the other less-prominent candidates in not getting a mention in many articles about the debate, including one from The Associated Press, until the last paragraph.

Even though he was invited to the debate, Johnson didn’t get a lot of time to make an impression. There were long pauses between his chances to speak during the two-hour debate.

Cillizza summed up Johnson’s performance this way:

“Johnson still has no chance to be the Republican nominee but deserves credit for a heck of a zinger.”

Or does Rush?

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7 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. Gee, he has to quote Rush Limbaugh to get noticed? How sad.

  2. Gary Johnson Condemns Booing Of Gay Soldier, Regrets His Silence On Stage (VIDEO)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/gary-johnson-gay-soldier_n_978710.html

  3. Former Governor Johnson should enjoy his brief moment in the spotlight. As Shakespeare said: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more.”

  4. Here are the top ten zingers from Presidential candidates in the past compiled by CNN:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/offbeat/2007/11/15/moos.debate.zingers.cnn

  5. My Republican neighbors’ dogs force me to own and use a shovel.

  6. I like him because unlike those other hypocrites, he would cut DOD and meddling with other countries. He would cut corporate welfare.

  7. While I think former Governor Johnson’s facetious zinger flies in the face of statistics provided to the public showing that the stimulus did create jobs (though not nearly enough by any standard of measure), I also think that it is unfortunate that this gentleman hasn’t been given the attention that a lot of the other GOP candidates have taken in.

    I wouldn’t vote for him, but I think that he brings a lot to the table in terms of ideas and deserves much more time in the spotlight. Regrettably, Mr. Johnson will most likely fall victim to the media’s pre-established narrative of what the GOP primary should be (Perry vs Romney free-for-all) as opposed giving all of the aspirants of the Republican Presidential Nomination a fair chance to get their views heard (at least he’ll get more coverage because of this comment than withdrawn-candidate Thaddeus McCotter ever got).

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