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The Beverly Hillbillies Red state/Blue state comedy

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One way of appreciating the genius of The Beverly Hillbillies is to consider it as a comedy of social contrast. Nearly 40 years before the Y2K elections brought the issues into a new focus, the Clampetts spent most of a decade representing the blue states of middle America against the quintessentially red state behaviors of the denizens of Beverly Hills.

Who would you really want making the decisions, wise and emotionally stable if undereducated Jed Clampett, or the emotional and neurotic Miss Jane? Would she in fact make better decisions with her nominal sophistication? This is more a question of personalities rather than of policies, something separate from being “liberal” or “conservative.” Poor white folk from the Ozarks such as the Clampetts could very well be Democrats.

Odd actually how well the sitcom folks foreshadow the actual politicians, or at least the public images of Bush and Gore. Jed Clampett was a calm, wise guy who had good sense and good judgement that were more important than his lack of high education. He’s a good stand-in for Dubya, as sitcom characters go.

Of course, Miss Jane Hathaway makes a frickin’ PERFECT doppleganger for Al Gore. Note that itchy, neurotic discomfort with their own bodies. Note the useless overeducation. Note the kind of distant city-fied dedication to environmental causes, such as the Biddle Birdwatchers- as opposed to Jed/Dubya who actually spent time in nature hunting and fishing.

This Blue State/Red State stuff played out interestingly in real life even before Bush/Gore. Nancy Kulp ran for congress in 1984 as a good liberal Democrat, espousing policies about like you’d expect from Miss Hathaway. She blamed Buddy Ebsen for her defeat, based on the radio ad he recorded for her Republican opponent.

Umm, President Clampett. I feel safer already.

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  • Are you fucking kidding me? If this is one of your cultural touchstones, please accept my resignation from said granfaloon.


    Weeeeeeeellllll, doggy, that Ellie Mae was some looker! Hot dang, how she enlivened my prebuscent days and nights.


    I meant “pre-pubescent”. Alas, it is quite difficult to type with one hand (and not even the dominant one at that).

  • Hmm, I’m guessing this j3rk guy to be one of those very “sophisticated” red state folk what think they’re a lot bigger deal than they really are.

  • mike

    Uh, Al: W has degrees from Yale and Harvard, dodged the draft and the National Guard, and has never worked a day in his life without knowing the family would bail him out. If he’s Jed Clampett, you’re Noam Chomsky.

  • Yeah, yeah, Mike. You hate W. Got it.

    Of course he’s better educated than Jed Clampett- though to listen to the commentators and comedians you wouldn’t think so. Thus my emphasis on the idea of public image rather than the actual reality.

    And I would not WANT to be Noam Chomsky. Crikey, that guy’s a caricature of an Ayn Rand villain.

  • mike

    Well, I sure as shootin’ done misunderestimated ya, Al. See, I took ya to be one a them city slickers, all haughty about his electricity, and his motor car an’ his fancy book learnin’. But no book learnin’ fixes ya up for life’s big lessons, eh, Al?

    Look at me here. I’m livin’ in this shack without running water or any sorta modern fancy smancy indoor toilet bowel. It’s just me and my pet chimp, Nim Chimsky. Actually, i gotta git Nim here a chimp girl friend cuz he lookin’ at me real funny. Hey, Al, you gotta get over here and save from this critter. He’s comin’ at me! O Lordy, look at his manhood! Get away, you furry linguist! Hey, Al! Help! Help!

  • That’s pretty funny Mike, especially the Chimsky part. However, you’re obviously putting up something that I did not say.

    I’m all in favor of education. Just reading a bunch of books doesn’t necessarily imply that you learned anything useful, though. Some of the biggest fools I ever met were college professors with large vocabularies. And some of the other biggest fools were uneducated white trash living in trailer parks.

    My experience is that degrees are only marginally related to good judgement.


    What about Ellie Mae vs. Daisy Duke (when they were both in their prime) in one of those Miller Lite girl type wet concrete wrasslin’ matches? That would be too sweet!

  • mike

    There actually was a chimp named Nim Chimsky, used by researchers to test Chomsky’s theory that language is innate and that animals, no matter how “advanced,” do not have it.

  • No, Dubya’s Jethro with a smidge of Mr. Drysdale thrown in for greed and money grubbing. Yes, it’s true that he has degrees from Harvard and Yale, but then Elvis had a black belt! Any New Yorker will tell you that everything’s for sale. Al Gore may not have been Jed, but he was surely closer than the lying idiot who stole the country in a farce known as Selection 2000.

  • No, Dubya is not Jethro. Jethro was just plain stupid- which Dubya clearly is not. [I believe it was Ted Kennedy caught in 1951 having someone else take his exam.]

    Moreover, Jethro’s stupidity was most clearly evidenced by his constant desire to be a supposed big city sophisticate like the denizens of Beverly Hills. This crucial Jethro trait in particular does not apply to Dubya.

    Finally, a few words in defense of Mr. Drysdale. He was certainly a greedy, money-grubbing freak. However, he was in fact basically honest. There was no sign of him actually ripping people off. He was a cheapskate extraordinare, but he never tried to screw the Clampetts or anybody else. He wasn’t any kind of generous, but he was pretty straight.

    And I bet he’d have more sense than to have HIS government running through money like it was frickin’ water. He’d surely have enough sense not to be starting a huge new drug entitlement program when we’re running a $400+ billion deficit.

  • Correct me please if I am mistaken, but I recall more than a few BH eps in which Drysdale tried to rip off the Clampetts (which, to me, includes using dirty tricks to keep their billions in his bank).

  • Drysdale certainly jumped through hoops to convince the Clampetts to keep their money with him, but come on. That’s business. He never, ever tried to TAKE any of their money.

    Think of all the ways he could have scammed them if he had been so inclined. Short of anything even illegal, think of all the kinds of crazy sweetheart deals he could have engineered if he were so inclined.

    He had the occasional trick, most often to mollify Granny’s totally non-monetary issues, but nothing that could reasonably be considered a “dirty” trick. Typical trick was when he contrived a snow storm for the Clampett mansion because Granny missed the Bugtussle winters. This was a “trick” perhaps, but in no way a rip-off.

    In fact, all indications were that Drysdale acquitted his fiduciary responsibilities perfectly honorably. Their money was there continuing to make more money for them right to the end.

    Indeed, Drysdale interceded many times to stop them from being ripped off or from just impulsively giving money away, or wasting it on obviously bad investments.

    In short, he was very anxious to keep their business, but in return he absolutely looked out for his most valuable clients.

  • I stand corrected. Thank you!

  • Eric Olsen

    Drysdale: apoplectic but honorable

  • Mike Damoff

    where could I get a Biddle Birdwatchers poster or picture?

  • Grrr

    Um, moron? Red states are the middle of the country, and blue states on the coast. You got it backwards, donkey.

  • Ya got me there, Grrr. It’s just that the blue state and red state labels seem assigned backwards, since it’s the blue states that are pinko Democrat states. Seems like they should be the officially designated “red” ones.