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Pat Paulsen for President

Getty Images / CBS Photo Archives

His presidential campaigns were purely tongue-in-cheek… or were they?

In this contentious election year, we could really use Pat Paulsen.

The brilliantly deadpan comedian, an Emmy-winning regular on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, ran for president in six elections, from 1968 through 1996 (that last election was less than a year before his death on April 24, 1997). His campaigns were purely tongue-in-cheek… or were they? He did end up on primary ballots several times, sometimes receiving a measurable percentage of votes. Never enough to win… but enough to prove that many voters were tired of politics as usual.

This year's election buildup has given political comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert plenty of fodder for jokes. Colbert has even followed in Paulsen's footsteps with an ongoing will-he-or-won't-he gag about running for the nation's highest office, adding some much-needed levity to the election cycle.

If Paulsen were still here today, we have a feeling he'd still be running for office. And responding to any criticism with his usual "Picky, picky, picky."