Missouri rodeo clown says act featured Bush, Reagan masks in the past
August 26th, 2013
02:55 PM ET
1 year ago

Missouri rodeo clown says act featured Bush, Reagan masks in the past

Updated at 8:15 a.m. ET on 8/27

(CNN) - The rodeo clown whose controversial routine mocking President Barack Obama got him banned for life from the Missouri State Fair said in his first televised interview Monday he'd mocked other presidents in the past during his act.

"I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," Tuffy Gessling told CNN Kansas City affiliate KCTV.

Asked whether he was a Republican or Democrat, Gessling said simply, "I'm a rodeo clown."

The stunt that landed him in hot water happened earlier this month when he was performing at the Missouri State Fair. While another clown donned an Obama mask and held a broom descending from his backside, Gessling said, "Hey, I know I'm a clown. He's just running around acting like one. Doesn't know he is one."

The response was quick. Aside from the Missouri State Fair ban, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association resigned. Missouri lawmakers condemned the incident.

Gessling described a vitriolic reaction after the national outcry over his act.

"I've had one lady spit in my face, called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off," Gessling told KCTV. "I've had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn the house down."

But the routine, which some labeled racist, had nothing to do with skin color, Gessling claimed.

"I never did anything because of anybody's race. I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit," he said, adding later he'd be "honored" to shake Obama's hand.


Filed under: Missouri
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Richard Long

    Forget Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush! He dared to insult The Obama!!! We need to push the old French law where it is illegal to insult the President. The First Amendment is outdated and needs to be repealed. "... Swear to protect and uphold the Consitution..." What a joke'

    August 26, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    And if he invited violence against Bush or Reagan, he was wrong then too. The mask was not the problem. The incitement to violence was. But he will never get it. And the national media got it wrong too. The mask was not the problem, but that is what they focused on.

    August 26, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    The rodeo clown whose controversial routine wearing a Barack Obama mask got him banned for life from the Missouri State Fair said in his first televised interview Monday he'd mocked other presidents in the past during his act.
    -----------------------–
    And what sort of antics did he perform when he mocked the previous presidents? I'm curious. He's left that part.

    August 26, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    OK Mr Clown....what exactly did you say about St Ronnie, Duh Duh Duh-bya, and Clinton? Did they have broomsticks up there? Did your cohost in the booth make disparaging remarks? Let's hear your side and then we'll decide.

    August 26, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    Bush and Reagan with a broom up your behind
    Did the announcer say what he did about our present President also about the other two?
    Some guy wh was interciewed said that it felt like a KKK rally. He must have known what he was talking about. Most of us don't know what that is like.

    August 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Mikey

    If that's the case, then this is a non-story... other than that the President of the United States should be given a higher degree of respect, no matter who they are. If you can't respect the person, at least respect the Office... and bring you kids up right and teach them to do the same.

    August 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    Curious to know.... Did he have a broom rammed up his butt when he wore the St. Ronnie mask??? I'm willing to bet $10,000 he didn't. It's not the mask that's the problem, but you know that already Bozo.

    August 26, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    The point is, why has he felt it necessary to do that with any president? We suffer from a dearth of respect for our public figures that has only gotten worse as time has gone on.

    August 26, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    "It was just a joke"-the surest sign that it was hateful.

    August 26, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    Missouri is the "Show Me" state. This dipstick has to show that he mocked other presidents. What a crock of bagger crap he is.

    August 26, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. anotherGDlefty

    If he's actually done it before produce the photos to back it up.
    Let's see the ones of Bush, Reagan and Clinton with a stick up their ass...
    Free market at work, he can just go back to county fairs in Texas and keep his new schtick and be super popular...

    August 26, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Richard Long:

    It was wrong back then. It is wrong now. It will be wrong in 2016.

    August 26, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. ghostwriter

    Aside from the Missouri State Fair ban, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association resigned. Missouri lawmakers condemned the incident.

    Looks like his issue is with the state of Missouri.

    August 26, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Tony in Maine

    Did he wear a broom in his butt and allow other clowns to diddle with his lips – I doubt it.

    The "it's just a joke" and the "out of context" routine have been overplayed. It's time to get honest – a black in trhe White House is more than your tiny bigotted brains can handle.

    August 26, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. morrie

    Yes, lets see what he looked like with other masks on.

    August 26, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    When you wore the Reagan, Bush and Clinton masks, did another "clown" come over and play with the lips like he did with this black presidents mask?

    August 26, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Dar

    OMG Another racist story...............If Obama was white no one would have given a crap about it. They just would have laughed it off like they did in the past when this clown did it. BIG DEAL!!!

    There is a heck of a lot more going on in the world right now that we should all be more concerned about than a clown running around with a broom stick stuck up his butt.

    If it would have been a black clown, would anyone have made such a big deal out of this?? I think not.

    August 26, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -Richard Long

    Forget Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush! He dared to insult The Obama!!! We need to push the old French law where it is illegal to insult the President. The First Amendment is outdated and needs to be repealed. "... Swear to protect and uphold the Consitution..." What a joke'
    *******************
    The concern about protecting free speech is cheap: this is the same group that tried to ammend the Constitution to ban flag burning because they found that display of Free Speech offensive, yet suddenly it ok to do this? The Right has done more to degrade and cheapen the Constitution over the last 30 years than the Left has in over 237 years

    August 26, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. tom l.

    Democrats are just thin-skinned, that's all there is to it. Overly sensitive and jump to the race card whenever they can. It's depressing and it hurts race relations.
    They complain today about repubs "disrepecting" the president yet forget all of the things they said about Bush and the fact that they said he wasn't even really elected (as if that's not the ultimate in disrespect)
    I heard Chris Matthews complaining that repubs refer to President Obama as "Obama" and that's disrepectful yet he referred to President Bush as "Bush" all of the time.
    Bottom line is that democrats have done more to harm race relations and tear us apart rather than brings us closer together.

    August 26, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Boomer in Mo

    Tony in Maine, I'm afraid you are right, at least about many Missouri residents.

    August 26, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. Kathleen Farrell

    Did he ever think about the how families with children at the rodeo felt about his nastiness and disrespect for our presidents? When he played with the lips on his mask, did he wonder how President Obama's children felt? It's sad that our first non-white male president is treated with unprecented scorn. It,unfortunately, has come to define our nation.

    August 26, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. slalom5

    Obviously MOST OF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN TO RODEO. The DUMMIES get shot out of a cannon, propped up with a broom, rolled out in a barrel, hung ( NOT henchmen style) on the fence, thrown thru the air, dropped etc. There are also clowns at circuses ( also propped up and shot thru a cannon), and street corners, People dress up at Halloween in the same manner. Ever heard of a scarecrow, a masqued ball, or costumed ball? Don't know what'd you do at Marti gras or with an Elvis impersonator. Are we going to incarcerate little kids who dress up like cowboys and indians?

    August 26, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Kathleen Farrell

    Tom L., do you suppose birthers ware really just trying to pull us together?

    August 26, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    tom l.

    Democrats are just thin-skinned, that's all there is to it. Overly sensitive and jump to the race card whenever they can. It's depressing and it hurts race relations.
    ----------------------
    You do realize that it was also the home state Missouri Republicans that condemned the clown act? Don't you?

    August 26, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Dar wrote:

    If it would have been a black clown, would anyone have made such a big deal out of this?? I think not.
    ---------------------
    A black clown would never have done such a thing because he knew he'd risk being shot at before the sun came back up.

    August 26, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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