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“I don’t know about this one,” several Losers told me after seeing Style Invitational Week 1492, a contest seeking conservative-leaning humor. After all, since 2017 the Empress had received almost no entries that dared tease the current administration for actions (or inactions) that, had a Republican been in office, would have had the Loserly darts flying nonstop.

Some every-week Losers wrote to tell me they were going to skip the contest; others were thinking the same way, then decided to try anyway. And there were indeed far fewer entries than usual for Week 1492, about 750 from only 115 entrants (more typical numbers would be 1,200/175, though they vary greatly). But at least most of the regulars gave it a shot. (Oops, I mean “a go.”) “This is one of the most difficult of any of the contests I’ve tried,” said one Loser in a note at the bottom of the entry form. Another said: “I have been THE most Liberal person I know for decades. This was hard! But gosh, awful fun.”

I’d specifically noted in the contest instructions that I wasn’t looking for anything “bigoted or hateful,” and I thought I’d made it clear that I wasn’t looking for entries purportedly by a Trumpist election-denier type but obviously written to mock that person. The idea, for once, was to tease the libs.

My initial reply to the doubters was that I wasn’t worried — even if not enough results were usable, I could always fill the page with more song parodies from Week 1490. But this week’s results of Week 1492 turned out just fine — and if you’re outraged at these 33 jokes, you shouldn’t be reading humor pages.

Like the winning joke: “How do you spot a liberal wearing cowboy boots? He’s holding a trick-or-treat bag.” Not political, but funny and expertly worded. It’s the second Clowning Achievement for Leif (rhymes with “waif” but he’s perfectly hale) Picoult, and his 39th (plus his 40th) blot of ink since his debut with Week 1401. Leif couldn’t resist sharing to me this week that he’d had that Unusual-Named Loser Moment of Fame: A staff member at his local library had noticed his name and recognized it from his Invitational credits. “I was wondering what you looked like,” she told him. Maybe the librarian noted the name because of the mega-selling novelist Jodi Picoult (she’s Leif’s cousin, it turns out), but still! And Jodi doesn’t have even one Loser magnet.

Second-place winner Ira Allen, who came of age in the student protest days of the late 1960s, had no problem joking about the current “person first” practice to avoid labeling people with adjectival nouns; they’re “persons experiencing homelessness” — a description of their current situation — rather than “the homeless,” a permanent-sounding identity. Ira described a bunch of losers as “persons temporarily experiencing defeat.” His double reward: an electric pen in the shape of a young Donald Trump that might or might not talk, and an old paperback containing the speeches of Spiro Agnew.

Invite Hall of Famer Frank Osen scored yet another runner-up (he has dozens) with a joke that people on the far left side of the aisle might appreciate: Q. What’s the difference between Trump and Biden? A. Joe’s managing to bring us together — soon nobody will approve of how he’s doing. And Steve Honley grabs his 15th ink “above the fold” for another jab at divisions among Democrats: Q. What is the main problem with the Democrat Party? A. Its left hand doesn’t know what its far-left hand is doing. (“Much as I loathe the GOP’s refusal to say ‘Democratic Party,’” noted Steve, a retired State Department diplomat, “I decided to go for authenticity here.”)

While I had plenty of good entries to choose from, the ones I marked as possible examples of NO made a list half as long as my shortlist of RIGHT, in addition to ones like this that I got maybe a dozen times. Q: Why do Democrats make lousy bridge players? A: Because they only know how to bid No Trump. (Zzzz.)

The worst (I never check the writers’ names when I cite these) were the mean-spirited, and lame — let’s make that ‘weak’ — to boot: “If liberals want to get rid of cows, why don’t they start with Nancy Pelosi?” Or “How many liberals can you fit in a dipsy dumpster? It depends on if you put them in whole or in pieces.” Yecch. “What do you call two members of ‘the Squad’? Half a brain.” It’s one thing to call Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene brainless for ranting on about “Jewish space lasers” and the “gazpacho police” and growing things in a “peach tree dish,” and another to do the same to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner of a prize from the prestigious Intel Science and Engineering Fair for her microbiology research.

I’m going to charitably say that this entrant thought the idea was to try to imitate a horrible person in telling this thing: “You know how mean kids can be. Should we feel bad for Obama, since his initials are B.O? A. Nah, probably all the kids in Kenya smelled bad.”

Others were just weak: “What do Democrats want to rename Washington, DC? Steinem, District of Sanders.” Huh? “What’s the difference between a liberal activist and a firefighter? A liberal activist speaks of national ‘dumpster fire’ issues and then adds fuel to the fire(s), whereas a firefighter extinguishes dumpster fires.” “How can you tell if your neighbor leans severely to the Left? When driving, he/she only makes left turns, regardless of how many miles are added to the trip.” “Knock, knock Who’s there? Wayne. Wayne who? Wayne-ing popularity bodes ill for mid-terms.” (True, I get weak entries every week, but we might have had a larger percentage this time. Or maybe I just bothered to collect more of them.)

No particular point characterizing something liberals do, just lazy name-calling: “Q: What do you get when you cross a liberal with an idiot? A: A smarter liberal.” “What’s the new name conservatives have bestowed on the Democrats? The Damnocrats,”

Others didn’t understand the contest, and told jokes about conservatives: “How does a conservative tell time? He steps outside and checks his sundial.” “What’s the difference between Al Gore and Donald Trump? One wrote ‘An Inconvenient Truth’; the other finds truth inconvenient.”

Okay, enough of the chaff. Let’s salute more wheat.

What Pleased Ponch: The faves this week of Ace Copy Editor Ponch Garcia:

How can you tell a liberal customer at Starbucks? They ask for a cappuccinx. (Jonathan Jensen)

Why do liberals love toothy British smiles? Nobody expects them to be straight and white. (Kevin Dopart)

Why were the liberal’s shoes too tight? He was trying to reduce his carbon footprint. (Karen Lambert) “Bonus points for qualifying as a dad joke as well,” notes Dad Ponch.

How do you know the California Forty-Niners were liberals? They used the proper pronouns referring to “gold in them/their hills.” (Bill Cromwell)

What’s the difference between conservatives and liberals? Conservatives want to eliminate taxes; liberals want to eliminate Texas. (Karen Lambert) [Karen, an Invite rookie phenom, had four blots of ink this week!]

What did the liberal restaurant owner do when his dishwasher was busted? Hired an immigration lawyer. (Bird Waring)

What do you call a liberal at a gun range? A reporter. (Chris Doyle)

Just not right — an unprintable: I was actually going to run this joke as an “And Last” but was talked out of it by a wiser person who lives with me: Is The Style Invitational left-leaning? More like left-fluffing. (Tom Witte)

This headline “The LOL Opposition” atop this column was a non-inking (too long) entry by Kevin Dopart.

Laugh-long relationships: This week’s contest, Week 1496

Not much more to say about this sure-fire perennial contest; even when I hear some Losers griping that they can’t find much to work with in that year’s list of random items, there are always plenty of inkworthiness at the end — even by the the gripers.

If you’re not familiar with our many, many compare-and-contrast contests, you’ll get the best guidance ‘n’ inspiration by looking at some earlier results.

Here are links to a few recent ones, plus last year’s top winners:

Results of Week 1442, 2021

12 gallons of hand sanitizer: Purell. An evening with Mitch McConnell: Pure ‘ell. (The winning entry, credited to almost identical entries from Jesse Frankovich and Jeff Rackow)

A quarantine puppy and the world’s largest pants: Both come out of a dog giving birth. (Daniel Galef)

An Olympic pole vaulter: Man with a 17-foot pole. An evening with Mitch McConnell: Man! Not with a 17-foot pole! (Jon Gearhart)

The difference between Simone Biles and the Texas power grid: You can count on only one of them to light up an arena. (Kevin Dopart)

Week 1390, 2020 (pandemic edition!)

An extra-long nasal swab is like John Bolton’s ego: Each is definitely irritating, but we can tolerate it if it helps defeat a deadly menace. (Jonathan Jensen)

The difference between a Confederate statue and sourdough starter: Everyone will smile when you announce that the starter will rise again. (John Doherty)

How a Zoom wedding is like a seat at the Tulsa rally: In both cases, the best man is somewhere else. (Mark Raffman)

Trump’s tie rack: Red neckwear. A skull-motif face mask: Redneck wear. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

A dot matrix printer: You get to watch it make a lot of noise and print. Fifty-yard-line Redskins tickets: You get to watch them make a lot of noise and punt. (Warren Tanabe)

Clown Shoe Friday: Flopsy. Boris Johnson’s hair: Mopsy. Jockey shorts: Cotton tail. (Jesse Frankovich)

Charred mollusk on a stick and Sean Spicer doing the tango: Each could be described as a slug with a stick up its butt, but only the mollusk would be described as well done. (Mary McNamara)

A hard Brexit and Jockey shorts: Two things we hope we never see Boris Johnson pull off. (Jon Ketzner)

And we’ll go out on the Boris Johnson joke — as Boris Johnson the Joke goes out.

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