The use of "the_-word" in place of the unspeakable or unprintable crashed through a threshold during the 1988 presidential race. Candidate Bush - not W, but G.H.W. - famously leveled and fired both barrels at opponent Mike Dukakis, accusing him of a willingness to raise the T-word (taxes), as well as labeling him with the graded L-word (liberal). The press corps gushed oceans of ink documenting the usage, decoding the former CIA chief's meanings and speculating on how these jibed with his political V-word, vision.
"Unspeakably Absurd (A is for, well, apple...),"
Word Ways: Vol. 37
, Article 20.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol37/iss1/20