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In 2004, Whoopi Goldberg was one of a number of Hollywood figures who performed at a fundraiser for then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, where her comments about then-incumbent president George W. Bush were criticized by media outlets at the time as being too sexually charged.
Goldberg has claimed that her career went dark amid the backlash, but her exact joke hasn’t been widely covered until now.
As part of a profile on the comedian, The New York Times magazine dug up the text of her joke and printed it.
“When Bush comes to shove, don’t whine,” she told the crowd, according to the Times. “Vote Kerry. And that’s why I’m here tonight. Because I love bush. But someone’s giving bush a bad name. Someone has tarnished the name of bush. Someone has waged war, someone has deliberately misled the country, someone has attempted to amend the Constitution, all in the name of bush. The bush I know and cherish would never do such things. My bush is smarter than that. And if my bush is smarter than that, you can understand just how dumb I think that other bush is.” She closed by saying, “Vote your heart and mind, and keep bush where it belongs,” and pointed at her crotch.
Goldberg told The Times she didn’t think what she said was that scandalous. “You know why they couldn’t print what I said? Because I didn’t say anything that was bad,” she told The Times. “But to hear them talk about it, I was disgusting.”
She later added of the career consequences she experienced after the coverage of her remarks that they’re “unique to me, because I didn’t say any of the shit that they have accused me of saying.”
“I mean, I did stuff,” she told The Times. “but I didn’t do what they said I did. And I will take anything that you’re mad at that I actually did. But you cannot accuse me of shit I didn’t do.”
At the Edinburgh TV Festival, Goldberg said that her career came to a “gigantic halt” after the coverage of her comments at the Kerry fundraiser.
“I would describe that situation as a lot of people covering their backsides, because the joke was never about [George W. Bush],” she said. “But no one ever stood up and said, ‘Hey, here’s what actually happened.’ And they put it in the newspaper. And you notice, they’d never say what I exactly said or what I said at all. But all somebody has to do is say you said it and that’s what happened.”
Shortly after her appearance at the Kerry fundraiser, the New York Post called Goldberg’s routine “an X-rated rant full of sexual innuendoes against President Bush” that included a “stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush’s name in a riff about female genitalia.”
And she was dropped as a SlimFast spokesperson, because executives were unhappy with her remarks at the event, according to reports at the time.
“We are disappointed by the manner in which Ms. Goldberg chose to express herself and sincerely regret that her recent remarks offended some of our consumers. Ads featuring Ms. Goldberg will no longer be on the air,” the company’s general manager Terry Olson said.
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