The Upshot

Austan Goolsbee: the economics wonk as class clown

The Upshot

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Barack Obama gestures to Austan Goolsbee at a campaign event in February 2008.


It's safe to say that in general, economic policy wonks are something less than a laugh riot. But that may not be the case for Austan Goolsbee, whom President Obama tapped Friday as the new head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Last year, Goolsbee took home top honors at the 16th annual "D.C.'s Funniest Celebrity" contest, and the wisecracking economist has since made numerous appearances on Comedy Central. Even on regular cable news and other staid appearances, this former History Channel host manages to drop one-liners that may have some supporters chuckling.

Below we take a look at some of the greatest hits from Goolsbee's gag reel:

  • During a 2008 CNN appearance to boost Obama's presidential campaign, Goolsbee delivered a one-liner that stuck well beyond the life of the campaign, saying of John McCain's economic plan, "There's more information on the back of a box of Froot Loops than on what they present."
  • (Video courtesy of Talking Points Memo.)

  • On "The Colbert Report" in June 2009, host Stephen Colbert joked that Goolsbee must have angered someone in order to be stuck with the tough job of fixing the economy. Goolsbee took the bait: "You have no idea how close to true that is," he responded. "Was it the NAFTA thing?" Colbert asked. "Don't believe anything the Canadians say," Goolsbee joked.
  • Goolsbee dropped his voice throughout his winning "D.C.'s Funniest" routine last October to offer cheeky running commentary on what was otherwise a boilerplate account of administration policy debates: "When we came to office, it was not that fun of a time to be here in the economy. ... We basically knew what to do: panic. ... Let's just sort it out and start from the fundamentals: how do we throw money at this problem? We kinda had to go back and look at the old textbooks: Karl Marx, Trotsky."
  • Goolsbee went on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on Budget Day, Feb. 1. He kicked things off  by joking about the need to stimulate the economy with deficit spending. "You've got to run a deficit to keep yourself away from Great Depression Land." To which Stewart responded, "Great Depression Land is the worst amusement park I've ever been to. I've been there. You end up standing on line for like two hours and you get to the thing and they're like, 'Here's your consomme.'"

(Photo: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

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