Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who is running for Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, told an audience that society needs to rebuild trust in its institutions, and the idea that we’re all in this together — using an interesting choice of joke.
Rehberg spoke Thursday at the Montana Rural Water Systems Convention. And a Democratic tracker video shows the Congressman making a point about American society.
“And that’s one of the problems that we have with the government today, people don’t believe in the institution of Congress. You look at the favorability rate. People are continually trying to tear down, not just the president, but the presidency,” said Rehberg. “And we still have the best system. So one of the things that we need to do is try to return credibility back to those that take the time to serve - you at the local community level, our state legislators, we at the federal level, whether it’s in the executive branch, the judicial, the presidency. We still have a lot of time to do that, because you know, we’re kind of all in this together.”
He then told an amusing joke, in the Midwestern and Western tradition of “Ole and Sven” fables, to illustrate the idea that everyone is in it together.
“Always remember the story of Ole and Sven — and I won’t tell it in an accent, because I’m not particularly good at that. But Ole and Sven lived on the other side of a lake from a bar, and they use to always walk around to the bar, party it up and walk home, well one night they had a little bit too much and so they decided to go down to the water and they saw a row boat and they stole it, they stole the row boat and they got about half way across the lake and started taking on water and Ole said to Sven, ‘Sven start bailing, we’re sinking’, and Sven said, ‘Ole, its not our boat.’
As the crowd laughed, he pointed to one individual in the crowd. “Want me to slow down?” he said jokingly, then returned to the main point: “But we’re all in this boat together.”
However, a joke about a drunken boating accident might not be the best analogy for Rehberg to be making — as he was himself injured in a serious boating accident in August 2009. The driver of the boat, then-state Sen. Greg Barkus, was found to have had a blood-alcohol content of .16, in a test conducted two hours after the crash. A top Rehberg aide suffered a serious head injury, but later made a remarkably strong recovery and has since gone on to start his own political consulting firm.
In December 2010, Barkus pleaded no contest to a charge of felony criminal endangerment, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in order to receive a deferred sentence.
When asked by TPM for comment about the tracker video, Rehberg spokesman Chris Bond e-mailed back:
“Liberal, hapless Senator Tester and his liberal, hapless New York City friends at TPM are so out of touch they can’t even get an Ole and Sven joke right. No wonder they supported ObamaCare, taxpayer-funded bailout bonuses to AIG executives, and anti-gun Supreme Court judges. This type of silliness is one of many reasons why five straight polls show Denny in the lead.”