Thursday's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered voters a stark contrast between two visions for the country on issues ranging from national security, the economy, and abortion. But the divertingly intense clash was also an LOL-fest of gif-able moments, and new Twitter personae like "Laughing Joe Biden" and searches containing the word "malarkey" quickly flooded the internet. Here, a guide to VP debate-inspired memes:
The debate showcased the policy differences between two men who seemed generations apart — pitting a rowdy, backslapping, old-school warrior against a more disciplined pol who came to prominence during a time when a single gaffe can ricochet across cable news channels all day. And nothing underscored the generation gap more than Biden whipping out the word "malarkey" to call out the young whippersnapper for making (allegedly) misleading statements. "Malarkey" was the third-highest search term on Google during the debate (after "Biden" and "conflating"), and trended heavily on Twitter.
The OED records evidence of ‘malarkey’, meaning ‘nonsense’ from 1924. It is originally an American slang word, origin unkown.
— The OED (@OEDonline) October 12, 2012
Kid: "Why did Mr. Biden say 'Malarkey'? Dad: "Because you can't say 'BullShit' on national TV." #VPDdebate
— Bad Hussein Taz (@cantdance2it) October 12, 2012
2. Laughing Joe Biden
It seemed that whenever Biden thought Ryan was being misleading or evasive, the vice president could hardly contain himself — throwing his hands in the air, casting incredulous glances at the camera, and punctuating his exasperation with bursts of laughter — even in the context of extremely serious issues. Biden's belittling antics delighted his liberal supporters, sparked an array of animated gifs, and inspired a LaughingJoeBiden persona on Twitter. But the mockery also infuriated conservatives, who used the hashtag #thingsthatmakejoebidenlaugh to express their displeasure at what they considered unseemly irreverence.
— Tamara Bates-Rhodes (@TamaraBatesRhod) October 12, 2012
— Ugly Honest (@uglyhonest) October 12, 2012
3. The death stare
An irresistibly melodramatic image of Biden and Ryan seemingly glowering at each other as they crossed paths was splashed across the internet and on the front pages of newspapers.
4. Paul Ryan drinking water
As observers with an eye for detail noted, Ryan drank copious amounts of water during the debate. The PaulRyanGosling persona on Twitter suggested that the sipping was Ryan's attempt to deflect Biden's constant laughter. But could it have been just a healthy habit? Ryan is a renowned fitness buff, a meme that flowered just hours before the debate, when TIME published some unflattering photographs of the hunky, grimacing congressman lifting dumbbells.
Hey girl, I'm not taking nervous sips of water, I'm drinking every time Biden laughs at me. #vpdebate
— Paul Ryan Gosling (@PaulRyanGosling) October 12, 2012
The good news is Bill and Ted may ride again. The bad news is i've been replaced. twitter.com/alxwinter/stat…
— Alex Winter (@alxwinter) October 11, 2012