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Did Scott Brown steal Santorum joke from Conan O’Brien?

US Senator Scott Brown spoke at the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Sunday.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

US Senator Scott Brown spoke at the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Sunday.

US Senator Scott Brown’s contraception joke aimed at Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was almost the same as one made a few weeks ago by comedian Conan O’Brien.

On Sunday during the annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast in Boston, which included a political roast, Brown drew laughter for this line: “I see that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have Secret Service with them on the campaign trail. And in Santorum’s case, I think it’s the first time he’s actually ever used protection.”

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The crack was a reference to Santorum’s personal opposition to birth control.

During the opening monologue of his Feb. 27 show on TBS, O’Brien, a Massachusetts native, used the same double entendre: “As of tomorrow, Rick Santorum will be assigned Secret Service agents. Did you know that? Yeah, this is historic: It’s the first time Santorum has agreed to use any kind of protection.”

A Brown spokesman told the Associated Press that the similarity of the jokes was coincidental.

The possible joke borrowing was not the first of the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. In the fall, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly accused President Obama of copying comedian Dennis Miller, a regular guest on O’Reilly’s cable show.

“Listen, Billy, it should be like ‘Survivor,’ ” Miller said of the crowded Republican presidential field during an Oct. 19 interview with O’Reilly. “Every week from here on in, those guys should vote one of those guys off.”

Less than a week later, Obama make a similar “Survivor” joke during an appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

“I’m going to wait until everybody is voted off the island,” he told host Jay Leno.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@gmail.com.
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