Viral rewind: Joe Biden's "smartass" quip earned him some conservative heat

Biden's custard shop visit was about getting media coverage painting him as a down-to-earth guy -- no luck there

By Colin Gorenstein
Published June 27, 2015 3:00PM (EDT)
 Joe Biden  (WISN 12)
Joe Biden (WISN 12)

You held out for as long as you could, but one day — against your better judgment — you clicked on a viral video. A song about chocolate rain. A man going full-psycho over double rainbows. Rebecca. Effing. Black. You didn’t feel great about it, but you just couldn’t help it.

 We may never have a hard-and-fast gauge on what makes something go viral — something to do with wisdom tooth extraction meds? — but we can still, retroactively, attempt to make sense of some of it. That’s why every week we’ll be taking a look back at the things that went viral exactly five years prior.

Here’s what was buzzing around the Internet for the week of June 27, 2010:

Joe Biden loves ice cream, and this is a fact. His love affair with the frozen treat has been well documented on Tumblr, with blogs like Joe Biden Eats Ice Cream frequently updating on the latest veep parlor sightings. Often he requests waffle cones and whatever "is the closest to chocolate" and is donning some sick aviators.

Five years ago, while campaigning for Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, the vice president stopped at Kopp's Frozen Custard in Wisconsin -- under the sad misconception that he was about to eat ice cream --  and left with some self-serve custard and a viral story instead.

Here's how Biden's interaction with shop manager Scott Borkin played out:

Biden: "What do we owe you?"

Manager: "Don’t worry, it’s on us. Lower our taxes and we’ll call it [the custard] even."

[...a few minutes later]

Biden: "Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?"

Biden had already established himself as a serial verbal gaffer at this point in time. It also seemed mutually understood that his comment was made in jest. However, after camera footage of Biden's visit to Kopp's Frozen Custard leaked, programs like Fox & Friends couldn't resist spinning their own narrative out of the sound bite: "Democrat Man Visits Local Business And Disrespects Him By Being Rich and Mean."

Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade invited Borkin onto the show a few days later, trying with all their might to get him to admit that he had ill will toward the veep and actually meant what he said as a jab. Borkin, who did admit that he was "shocked" by Biden's comeback initially, ultimately shot down Kilmeade's speculation that he was "ticked off" when he delivered these words.

And that's the story of Biden Calling a Wisconsin Man A Very Slightly Bad Word.

Watch the clip below:

Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email

MORE FROM Colin Gorenstein

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Joe Biden Tbt Video Viral Rewind