Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner apologizes for jokes about Eastern Kentucky

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJune 22, 2011 

FRANKFORT — The Democratic nominee for the state's top agriculture job apologized Tuesday for jokes he made about people in Eastern Kentucky during a comedy routine.

Clips of the comedy performance by Bob Farmer, a Louisville marketing executive running for commissioner of agriculture, were included in an Internet video posted by his opponent, Republican state Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville.

In the video, Farmer makes jokes about Eastern Kentucky during a performance at the Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville, Ind.

Farmer joked that Eastern Kentucky is a place where "cars are on blocks and houses are on wheels." He says someone told him the FBI would not investigate a particular county "cause all the DNA is alike and there ain't no dental records."

Farmer goes on to say that people in Eastern Kentucky did not trust him because he had shoes on and had all of his teeth.

"I sincerely apologize if my comments offended any of my fellow Kentuckians," Farmer said in a written statement. "Over the years I have spoken across the country to groups and shared my love for our commonwealth and its people and hope that people see these comments as an attempt at humor not an insult."

Farmer, who has been a marketing executive and public speaker since 1982, said in an interview that he has done the comedy routine for nearly 25 years. No one has ever complained, he said.

"I apologize if it offends anyone," Farmer said in the interview. "I don't want to offend people."

Farmer issued the apology after the Republican Party sent out a news release on Tuesday demanding that Farmer apologize.

"If the Kentucky Democratic Party does not renounce this fool's ridiculous little routine, it will lose every bit of credibility with voters," said Steve Robertson, the Republican Party chairman. "To Bob Farmer I would say this: don't quit your day job ... whatever it is. You will not be Kentucky's next agriculture commissioner."

Farmer said Republicans wouldn't have made the comedy routine an issue if they weren't worried.

"When did they lose their sense of humor — when I got 15 points ahead?" Farmer said.

Farmer, who has never farmed, beat four Democratic opponents in the May primary. A CN|2 poll conducted earlier this month showed Farmer leading Comer 48 percent to 33 percent, despite never having run for political office. At the time of the poll, Comer dismissed Farmer's lead, telling CN|2 that people think either that Bob Farmer is current Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer or that he farms.

Comer defeated Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio in the Republican primary.

Farmer said the remarks were taken from a DVD of some of his speeches and comedy routines that was released in 2006. Farmer said he expected the Republicans to make those comments an issue in the campaign.

"If this is all they have to hang their hats on ... I mean, come on," Farmer said.

Dan Logsdon, the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Tuesday that Farmer's comments were not funny.

"Mr. Farmer has apologized for his offensive remarks, which he needed to do," Logsdon said. "His comments were neither funny nor appropriate."

Farmer is the spokesman for the Farmers' Almanac and frequently travels the country giving speeches and doing comedy routines. Comer is a cattle rancher who was first elected to the state House in 2001.

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