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Do you want fries with that?

Gene Weingarten on

What would be a great oxymoron bordering on Zen koan?

Ordering "a nothingburger with everything."

Is nothingburger a new expression?

No, Google reveals it has been around for at least a generation, but it has been used only sparingly until now.

But is it a new political concept?

Absolutely not! Prepare for a jolt. The concept of an empty hamburger as a political metaphor goes back at least to the 1984 Democratic presidential primary contest between Gary Hart and Walter Mondale. As the most colorless candidate in recent memory -- he was eventually eclipsed by Michael Dukakis, who lost to George H.W. Bush, a man as colorless as saliva -- Mondale was desperate for some sort of slogan. Thus arose "Where's the beef?," stolen from an ad for Wendy's and meant to imply that Hart's issues were all bun and no protein. "Where's the beef?" is not materially different from "nothingburger." I believe this is the first time this connection has been made.

Wow.

Yes. You are getting some major political dope here, free of charge.

OK, so is this Russian thing, in fact, a nothingburger?

Ty shutish'?

Nyet.

========

Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com. Follow him on Twitter, @geneweingarten. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon Eastern at www.washingtonpost.com.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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