03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Baby Talk Comes to Congress

I would just like to mention that I am writing this with an adorable baby on my shoulder. It might not be readily apparent, and I think it's important for you to know.

When I saw Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) on the House floor over the weekend, making his heart-wrenching case against allowing people to have health care, and noted that he had a cute, little baby (is here any other kind?!) on his own shoulder, I realized it was a tremendous communications device. Imagine how great Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech would have been if he'd had a baby on his shoulder.


I will admit that at first, I didn't realize that it was a real baby at all. I just figured initially it was a ventriloquist act. "What a clever idea for a dummy," I thought. Edgar Bergen had his Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and John Shadegg has his "Maddie." A talking-baby dummy! Now, that's vaudeville.

(Actually, for the first half-minute, I thought this was a promo for Jeff Dunham's new show on Comedy Central. )

One thing. I also have to acknowledge that I didn't think this was really a congressman on the House floor. Not because it was just too stupid -- I simply didn't believe his real name was "John Shadegg." Shad, after all, is a kind of herring. And roe are fish eggs. So, I just figured that "John Shadegg" was a goofy stage name for a comic riffing on "shad roe" and his being the Caviar of Ventriloquists.

Anyway, back to my original point, when I saw Rep. Shadegg (R-AZ) doing his shtick with the prop baby on his shoulder, telling us everything that the baby was thinking -- and admit it, that was one, freaking sophisticated baby! -- I realized that people just inherently like you more and won't dare criticize you if you are holding a baby on your shoulder. How crass does someone have to be to criticize a person holding a wee, adorable baby, whatever you're saying? And I felt that if it works for John Shadegg (R-AZ), it ought to work for me.

Now, mind you, I don't have a baby handy, so that was a problem. My friend Mark Evanier has a Jerry Mahoney dummy, from the great ventriloquist Paul Winchell, and I thought of borrowing that, and I'm sure it would have worked, but it's not the same thing. I needed a baby.


So, I went down the block and eventually found parents willing to let me have their baby for a couple hours. (You might think that strange, but consider: having someone willing to basically babysit their screaming toddler for an afternoon turned out to be easy. In fact, I not only had to turn down several begging offers, but I'm making $18 an hour in the deal.)

So, anyway, as I said, just imagine me having a huggable baby on my shoulder as I write this.

And keep in mind that I'm merely typing this. It's the baby, "Jo Jo," who's saying it. Jo Jo wants me to tell you how upset he is about the Republicans trying to block health care. He says that their actions are anathema to democracy (his words) and unpatriotic. Further, baby Jo Jo wants me to say that he thinks Birthers are "poopies," Deathers are "sad crustaceans" and Tea Partyers "don't have the sensibility of strained peas." All his words.

Jo Jo also wants to tell you that he's still upset at George Bush lying about Iraq trying to buy yellowcake which got the U.S. into an unprovoked war. And he says the $1.3 trillion debt that George Bush left is a number he can't even grasp because he hasn't gotten that far in logarithms. But he's sure it could buy a lot of blankees for people, and he knows he's the one who's going to be paying it off when he grows up.

And while this incredibly cute baby in my arms has a few more moments of your time, he asks to send his love out to the people of New Orleans wiped out by Katrina, and adds, "You are all my brothers and sisters." And finally, he asks the Republicans to quit saying, "NoNoNoNoNoNo" about everything because "You're beginning to sound like me when I'm tired, hungry and getting cranky, and even I think I sound like a big baby then."

By the way, Jo Jo says he spoke later with "Maddie" who wanted him to let you all know that she's for a public option and that Congressman Shadegg man totally misquoted her, which is so "bogus," and she didn't even know who he was. And she kept asking him to put her down.

So, that's it. Jo Jo and I send you our best. And I know he wants to say "Bye bye" to you all.