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Papers pull 'Doonesbury' over potty put-down

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | 6:40 PM ET

Some newspapers in the United States have pulled the comic strip Doonesbury objecting to two instances of potty mouth.

The strips for Tuesday and Wednesday show a caricature of U.S. President George W. Bush referring to his top political advisor, Karl Rove, by the nickname "Turd Blossom."

About a dozen newspapers have complained to Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes the comic, and said they wouldn't run it or edited out the offending word.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau poses with one of his original comic strips in New York, Jan. 16, 1996 (AP Photo)
Cartoonist Garry Trudeau poses with one of his original comic strips in New York, Jan. 16, 1996 (AP Photo)

The Providence Journal in Rhode Island removed the word from the strip's final panel.

"I didn't think [that] hurt it," said Executive Editor Joel Rawson, who said "Turd Blossom" would also be taken out of Wednesday's strip.

Universal Press didn't offer alternative strips to use, something it's done in the past.

"Given the coverage of Karl Rove, we thought it was appropriate, especially given the history of the strip," said Lee Salem, editor at UPS, which sends the strip to about 1,400 newspapers.

Rove is alleged to have leaked the name of a CIA operative to Washington journalists last July. He is reported to have outed Valerie Plame, married to Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had questioned the administration's claims about Iraq's alleged nuclear program.

A grand jury is now investigating the leak, a federal felony. Rove has denied being its source and has yet to appear before the jury.

The 53-year-old masterminded Bush's $150-million re-election campaign and has been a confidante for decades, meeting the younger Bush in the '70s. The two caroused together in Texas as Rove made a name for himself in Republican circles as a political consultant.

Because of his ability to escape from controversy Bush gave him the name "Turd Blossom," a Texas term for a flower that blooms in cow dung. He also calls him "Boy Genius."

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is no stranger to controversy, either. Trudeau has carved himself a niche lampooning current events and politics through his imagined world. In March, the character of Duke – modelled after gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson – comes across a story about Thompson's death, at which moment his head explodes. Thompson committed suicide on Feb. 20 by shooting himself in the head.

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