Twenty years ago, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis was the subject of a memorable sight gag in "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.''
Last weekend, on "Saturday Night Live,'' it happened again.
In 1991's "Naked Gun 2 1/2,'' when Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is drowning his sorrows along with other morose patrons at a bar called The Blue Note, the camera pans across pictures on the wall of some legendary disasters: the Hindenburg, the Titanic, and ... a smiling Mike Dukakis.
Three years earlier, Dukakis had been the Democratic presidential nominee, only to run what he himself later acknowledged was a poor campaign that resulted in a crushing defeat at the hands of George H.W. Bush.
On Saturday's "SNL,'' host Zach Galifianakis delivered a very funny opening monologue, then began to tear off one sheet of paper after another from a large, cue-card-like notepad on which he had jotted down random, cleverly absurdist musings and pronouncements. The last one was this surprising (and to younger audience members, probably mystifying) rallying cry: "Dukakis 2012.''
Now, having interviewed Mike Dukakis a number of times over the years, I can report that he has a much better sense of humor than his reputation as a dry, joyless technocrat would suggest. Still, I doubt he saw Galifianakis's routine. Something tells me the Duke is not a regular viewer of "Saturday Night Live.'' Nor do I think President Obama is exactly quaking in his boots at the prospect of a Draft Dukakis movement....