Gary Johnson credits radio audience for his hit debate joke

Gary Johnson admitted Friday that his now-famous joke — in which he quipped, "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration," was a team effort, submitted by listeners to a New Mexico radio show.

“I got emails yesterday from everybody I know giving me suggestions of what I should or shouldn’t say, and included in those emails was an email from the leading radio talk show host in New Mexico on AM Radio who said for two days he had conducted a call-in ... 'let’s give Gary some zingers that he might use in the debate,' so this was among the list of 14 zingers that were sent to me, apparently by call-ins to that show," the former governor of New Mexico said on Fox News. "I think it was kind of a collective New Mexico effort that gave me that line.”

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Some have noted that the line bore more than a passing resemblance to a similar joke by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Thursday.

"My dogs have created more shovel-ready work than Obama has just this week alone. The new puppy — honest to God — more shovel-ready work for me this week than Obama has created all two and a half years," Limbaugh said.

But the origins might be even cloudier than that. Talking Points Memo also noted that a variation of the joke had appeared in their slideshow of top protest signs of 2009.

Thursday was the first debate appearance for Johnson, who despite polling at levels similar to former Utah Gov. John Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has been excluded from the contests. Johnson said he was glad he got the opportunity to speak to a national audience.

“I have a 17-minute "Full Monty" speech about what I’m all about and last night I got to deliver about two minutes of that," Johnson said. "But I was really pleased with the two minutes I got, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to be onstage."