Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., became the latest politician to join the “offensive monkey joke” club on Monday when he tweeted his thoughts on Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s willingness to be the first Iranian sent into space.
“So Ahmadinejad wants to be the first Iranian in space–wasn’t he just there last week?” said McCain in a tweet that also linked to a story about Iran’s claim to have launched a monkey into space last week.
The not-so-funny zinger drew criticism from McCain’s twitter followers, who called the joke “disgusting,” “despicable,” and “racist,” among other things. McCain fired back in a tweet, telling everyone to “lighten up” and learn how to “take a joke.” But even colleagues from McCain’s own party found the 76-year-old senator’s “get off my lawn” humor a little too over the top.
“Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes,” said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., on twitter.
McCain–no stranger himself to offensive jokes about Iran–is not the first politician to make the mistake of comparing someone to a monkey. Back in 2009, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., made headlines when he compared President Obama and Washington Democrats to a “monkey problem” at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC. And of course, there was Virginia Sen. George Allen’s huge gaffe in 2006, when he repeatedly referred to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent as “macaca,” a word that translates to “monkey” and is widely considered a racial slur against African immigrants.