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Virginia Republicans can't help themselves

Jon Chait joked yesterday, "The Virginia gubernatorial ticket has managed to offend blacks, gays, women, immigrants.... Somehow they have neglected the Jews.

Jon Chait joked yesterday, "The Virginia gubernatorial ticket has managed to offend blacksgayswomenimmigrants.... Somehow they have neglected the Jews."

That neglect promptly ended an event yesterday for Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli (R).

As the Washington Post reported, the far-right state attorney general was "forced to distance himself from a local Republican official who spoke ahead of the candidate and told an anti-Semitic joke."

People brought yellow lawn chairs with the motto "Don't tread on me," and at least one tricorner hat was visible in the crowd. John Whitbeck, 10th Congressional District Republican Committee chairman, raised eyebrows when he kicked off the festivities by telling a joke in which the head of the Jewish religion presented the pope with a long, elaborate document that the Jewish leader said was a bill for the last supper.The crowd laughed uproariously. But American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal political action committee, tweeted about Whitbeck's "anti-Semitic" opener and the state Democratic Party later circulated a video of the joke.

Chait added, "It's a great piece of humor because it combines the Jews-are-cheap angle with the Jews-killed-Jesus angle in one joke."

Oddly enough, the point of the event was for Cuccinelli to stand alongside far-right radio host Mark Levin. If anyone was going to say something outrageous and offensive, one would probably expect it to be Levin.

In any case, the Republican campaign distanced itself from Whitbeck's attempts at humor. "I don't even know who the guy is," Cuccinelli campaign strategist Chris La Civita told the Post. "It's wholly inappropriate and not connected to the campaign. And it's not reflective of Ken Cuccinelli."