KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- France's reservations about joining the United States in war against Iraq inspired a string of jokes Saturday from U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the third-ranking House Republican.
"Of course, we're faced with lots of policy challenges, responding to our opponents all around the world -- the French ...," Blunt, the House majority whip, said before being interrupted by laughter at a Missouri Republican convention.
That was just a warmup.
"Do you know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris? It's not known, it's never been tried," Blunt quipped, drawing guffaws and applause.
The congressman from Missouri's Ozarks kept rolling.
"Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day -- the description was, 'Never shot. Dropped once.'"
Blunt then attributed this line to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without your accordion."
He made the comments during a "town hall meeting" attended by state GOP leaders during the Missouri party's annual convention saluting Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
Led by France, most of the 15 nations of the United Nations Security Council have shied away from a showdown with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. France has called for intensifying weapons inspections in Iraq and bolstering them with surveillance flights.
Blunt predicted that France "will be at the president's side when we do what we need to do."