Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Refudiate, Propulgate, Malaprop, Portmanteau, Art, Life

I realize I make this connection very, very late in the game, but it occurred to me this afternoon just how uncanny it is that Aaron Sorkin*, in The West Wing, prefigured Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's portmanteau malaprop "refudiate".
In the episode titled "Disaster Relief", fictional Vice President "Bingo Bob" Russell uses the word "propulgate" at a conference at the White House in the Roosevelt Room.

Gary Cole as VP Bob Russell in The West Wing

From the West Wing script:

VP Russell (played by Gary Cole): Excuse me, Toby, if I may. You're right, Congressman. If we lower cap gains taxes, we reward the small business owners who took a risk for the economy and I'd be the first in line to pat 'em on the back, but the thing is, the Speaker is trying to "propulgate" a tax bill onto an appropriations package. We start allowing that, we're never going to get budgets passed.
[Leo, Toby, and Will look confused at the VP's word choice.
* * *
CUT TO: INT. - WHITE HOUSE - HALLWAY - DAY
Leo and Will are walking through the hallway.]
LEO [con.] (played by John Spencer): ... although I'm pretty sure there's no such word as "propulgate". Maybe he meant "propagate", or "promulgate".
--The West Wing, from the episode titled Disaster Relief

John Spencer, Gary Cole, and Richard Schiff
The fact that the two neologisms rhyme is icing on the cake.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
*Credit for the prophetic malaprop perhaps should go to Alexa Junge, author of the teleplay.

3 comments:

jerodast said...

It should be noted Sorkin actually had left the show entirely starting in season 5, so he really had nothing to do with the Bob Russell character or that scene.

Puzzled said...

Of course you're right. Thank you for pointing it out. Credit where credit is due, looks like prescient bit was women's work.

Written By
Alexa Junge

Story By
Alexa Junge &
Lauren Schmidt

Directed by
Lesli Linka Glatter

Puzzled said...

I see, though, that quite a long time ago I added the footnote crediting Alexa Junge.