Getting Politicians to Swear off Cussing

When Joe Biden whispered something indiscreet in the president's ear, the president was deeply offended. The president, that is, of the "No Cussing Club."

"I was really, really disappointed that our vice president of the whole United States actually said this," McKay Hatch said.

McKay, 17, is on a mission to clean up America's language. The California teen has written and recorded songs, he's printed posters and published a book. Now he's sending the vice president a T-shirt and a Cuss Jar where Biden can pay up for every bad word - and not just a quarter.

"Maybe a hundred," McKay said.

McKay has some experience pressuring politicians, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. Earlier this month he delivered Cuss Jars to lawmakers in California, pushing for the adoption of a "No Cuss Week" in the state.

"I know we're all not perfect - I've actually already put $5 in my jar," said Anthony Portantino, a California assemblyman.

There wasn't a bad word said as the resolution sailed through the Assembly.

The measure has since stalled in the state Senate.

But in several other states, old laws still on the books do make cursing a crime. The fine for foul language in Mississippi is $100, in Virginia it's up to $250. And in South Carolina swearing in public could cost $5,000 under a bill now before the state Senate.

The vice president isn't facing a steep fine, but on behalf of America's youth McKay Hatch does want an apology.

"Words have a lot of power and that was one word that obviously offends people and people don't like," McKay said.

And before he next whispers in the president's ear, Biden may want to take some advice from California.

"I think 'fudge' is a good word," Portantino said.

After all the vice president may be just a heartbeat away - from another slip of the tongue.

©2010 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved
  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.

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