Pop culture, according to Jon Huntsman

In one week, the former Utah governor has referenced Nirvana, Wayne's World and Led Zeppelin. What might be next?

Published September 21, 2011 3:22PM (EDT)

Jon Huntsman
Jon Huntsman

Since when did Jon Huntsman become Dennis Miller?

First the former Utah governor -- just in time for the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's "Nevermind" -- invoked Kurt Cobain in a Republican debate last week.

It was a strained reference -- Huntsman mocked the Social Security plan put forth by Mitt Romney in his memoir "No Apology" by wondering whether it was written by Cobain (who wrote "All Apologies"). But it did get the attention of Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who tweeted: "Kurt Cobain Lives in the GOP presidential debate! Kurt supported Jerry Brown for president in 1992."

Huntsman wasn't done with 1992, however. Later in New Hampshire, he praised the food at a local tavern with "a great line in 'Wayne's World,' the movie, something like, ‘Not worthy, not worthy. Hardly worthy of this kind of food." Then he reached back to the 1970s at a town hall in Sandown, N.H., poking fun of the superficial debate format by comparing it to the short version of "Stairway to Heaven." The governor prefers the original, long version.

It made us dig back for other, less-publicized pop-culture allusions Huntsman might have made since the beginning of his campaign.

June 22, 2011, 6:52 p.m.

Speech to Wasatch County GOP, Park City, Utah

"In closing, I am thrilled, honored and humbled to accept your endorsement. I hope to meet some of you afterward, and I hope you'll say, like Renee Zellweger said in 'Jerry Maguire,' 'You had me at single-tiered income taxation.'"

June 29, 2011, 8:35 a.m.

Speech to Farm Owners Alliance, Ojai, Calif.

"I don't need to tell you all how hard it is to make ends meet. As you well know, there's no shortcut to an honest day's work. There is no cutting corners when it comes to providing for your family. There is no turning on the Nintendo and hitting Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A-Select-Start when it comes to the American dream."

July 4, 2011, 2:41 p.m.

Speech at Grayson Machine Works, Nashville, Tenn.

"We're a proud nation, a strong and resilient nation. We look out for each other when times are hard, and we celebrate together when times are good. We sing together, we pray together and, when the time is right, we do a little dance on the catwalk together." [wild applause]

July 11, 2011, 9:55 a.m.

Speech to Women's Rotary Auxiliary, Baton Rouge, La.

"Would you elect me? I'd elect me. I'd elect me hard." [wild applause]

July 26, 2011, 8:46 a.m.

Speech at Financial Sector Conference, Whitefish Bay, Wis.

"It's no secret that things are hard right now. I've spoken to many people here tonight who feel like progress is elusive, much like when you try to watch all five Leprechaun movies in a single night, only to realize, too late, that only one, two and five are on streaming, and three and four aren't available for download in their entirety anywhere, even on torrent sites." [silence]

Aug. 4, 2011, 11:10 a.m.

Comments at Grover Cleveland Elementary School PTA meeting, East Rutherford, N.J.

"Our schools are in crisis. A young man -- let's call him Jermaine -- spoke in class today. He said some things that were difficult to hear. But try as we may to forget him, to erase him, from this blackboard of fiscal insolvency, we cannot."

Aug. 16, 2011, 9:20 p.m.

Comments to television reporters at Discount Dan's Mattress Town's Semi-Annual BBQ and Sale, Benton Harbor, Mich.

"It's really, you know, like Batman. [inaudible question from off-camera] Yeah, absolutely. Bachmann's Catwoman, easy. Perry's the Joker. But like the Jack Nicholson one, not that guy who died, Keith Ledger. Heath, sorry. [inaudible question] Santorum as the Riddler? I don't know ... I guess he does look a little like Jim Carrey. [inaudible question] Well, I'd be Batman, and whoever ended up being vice president would be Robin. Is that conceited? [pause] Tell you what: The American people are Batman, and I'm their Robin. Fair enough? [long pause, eats most of hot dog] But maybe not such a pansy."

Aug. 30, 2011, 12:25 p.m.

Speech to the Tri-State Sportfishing Association, Sarasota, Fla.

"There is a middle ground to nearly every issue, and this holds true in the current contentious debate between sportsmen and environmentalists. We can draw inspiration from some of the great mediations of history, such as Reagan and Gorbachev working together to tear down the Berlin Wall, or Freddie Mercury and David Bowie deciding, once and for all, who was really under the most pressure."

Sept. 5, 2011, 5:20 p.m.

Comments to newspaper reporters at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't think the government is lying to people. But I do think you have to learn to sort out the truths from the half-truths and the spin. It's like Sculder, and Myrtle, and the aliens and the guy who loves cigarettes: The truth is out there."

Sept. 18, 2011, 8:10 a.m.

Rehearsing New Hampshire primary concession speech, personal bus (unaware cameraman is filming)

"'Today, perhaps, things didn't get' -- hold on, I'll start again. 'Today, perhaps, things didn't go our way. But you know what they say: when we get knocked down, WE GET BACK UP AGAIN.' [aside, to aide] So yadda yadda, then wait for the applause, and we're done. [stares out window] What the hell is that from, anyway? [aide points at laptop] 'Thub-tumping?' What's that? Some Scottish thing? [aide Windexes laptop screen] Hmm. I'll be damned. [Aide points at screen repeatedly] Ah, TUB-thumping. Got it. [long pause] Really, what the hell is that? [aide shrugs] Do you have Wikipedia on this thing?"

By John Peck


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