For years it was one of the most lighty-amusing running jokes in memedom: The Onion's ongoing series of stories about then-VP Joe Biden, portraying him as Diamond Joe, everyone's favorite lewd but obviously harmless shirtless uncle. The editor behind the series regrets it and feels responsible for helping one of the most conspicuously moronic Democrat candidates seem electable despite repeated runs at high office that ended in disgrace and failure.
The handsome guy who's got it good but doesn't take himself too seriously is a profoundly American aesthetic, and Biden seemed to embody it. The Onion even produced a Biden book, The President of Vice, in 2013. He may not have been in on the joke, but he certainly knew about it and embraced it, calling it "hilarious" in a 2011 interview and jumping in to a Reddit AMA with the faux Biden to express his preference for Corvettes.
I can't speak for my colleagues, but at the time, I didn't take him seriously enough to think we were doing anything wrong. I thought of him as little more than a political necessity: the older, more conservative white guy who softened Barack Obama's image in regions where the prospect of a black president was too radical. A deeper dive on Biden never felt necessary.
He's likely to be the candidate, unfortunately, guiding just less than half the electorate toward an inexorable sinking feeling as November 2020 approaches. The Onion's book about fake Joe, President of Vice, is now free of charge on Kindle.