“Hee Haw” gave some viewers, including me, their first exposure to country, old-time and bluegrass music. The show was funny but never mean-spirited. Its sensibility was wholesomely conservative, but it rarely strayed into politics.
Yet some observers now see “Hee Haw” as having foretold political developments of the early 21st century. “Perhaps the 2016 presidential election was a rural surge and an urban purge,” wrote Indiana Wesleyan University’s Jerry Pattengale last year for the Christian Post. “Call rural voters hillbillies, country bumpkins, or blue-collar workers, but they’re definitely not deplorables,” Mr. Pattengale added. “Perhaps the Canadians got it right in the 1960’s.”
One time “Hee Haw” did get political was in 1974, when Junior Samples, a bumbling performer with no filter or social awareness, floated the idea of running for lieutenant governor of Georgia as a Republican. Journalists took him seriously until he revealed it was a joke.