David Letterman does a late night talk show. Every night he does five or so minutes of a monologue and a top ten list. For these, his writers probably write thousands of jokes a year, probably tossing them off in a couple of hours using the news around them.
The above is called context. It's something that is important for understanding anything. And it is something that often is forgotten when it comes to any sort of overblown rhetoric like the kind Sarah Palin has been spewing in the week of David Letterman's jokes about her.
Some more context. Alex Rodriquez is a baseball player who has been linked to celebrities in the past, including Madonna and now Kate Hudson. His personal life has been tabloid fodder both in New York (where he plays for the team that Ms. Palin was watching, the Yankees) and beyond.
A little more context. Sarah Palin had a child who was pregnant out of wedlock. During Sarah Palin's campaign, the famous promoter of abstinence and anti-abortion candidate made sure that her pregnant daughter and her apparently unwilling boyfriend were placed front and center at many events. Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol had recently appeared on the cover of People Magazine talking about having a baby and abstinence.
And just a little more context. While the slutty stewardess comment is possibly a cheap sexist joke, it does instantly bring to mind the tightly buttoned up, but sexy look that Palin's aiming for. If you think Letterman's wrong, take a look at this disturbing site I found and tell me Palin's outfits don't have a certain resemblence.
Of course, the problem here is that two tossed off jokes were twisted into much more by a woman who thrives on attention. Sarah Palin took the joke and turned it into an attack on Letterman, essentially calling him a pedophile and condoning rape, something nobody but the emotionally disturbed could get out of the joke. Of course, we could argue that Palin is slow to outrage given the numerous instances that similar jokes were made and Palin said nothing. Perhaps she figured now the timing was right for her to exploit her children a little further to keep her name in the news.
The saddest thing here is that we seem to have set a higher standard for the discourse of our late night comedians than we have our politicians and political commentators. Maybe instead of asking for apologies from the people who spend every night trying to make us laugh, we should start demanding them from people like Sarah Palin, Michael Moore, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Carville, Sean Hannity, and the numerous talk shows, news programs, and other media outlets who have turned discussion of real issues and concerns into a series of shouting points aimed at the lowest common denominator.