A sheriff in Massachusetts is refusing to apologize for joking that President Barack Obama could best serve the country by being assassinated.

Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald, Jr. made the joke during a local St. Patrick's Day breakfast for Republicans on Sunday. He said that the ghost of Lincoln appeared to Obama in a dream and advised him to go to the theater, where the former president was shot in the head.

"It was absolutely in jest," he told The Patriot Ledger. "It was a joke. It wasn’t a new joke by any means."

McDonald claimed it was "absurd" to be offended by the joke because it had existed since the late 19th century.

"The basic concept of it has been around since the Andrew Johnson administration," he explained to Patch. "The radical Republicans wanted him to take a much harder line on Reconstruction of the South, and the joke was that Johnson should have gone to the theater instead of Lincoln."

McDonald also accused liberals of hypocrisy, saying he heard similar jokes told about former President George W. Bush.

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