Did you hear? Vice President Mike Pence didn't wear a face mask.

In normal times, the bare-faced Pence's arrival at Mayo Clinic probably would have generated hushed whispers and disapproving glances. But these are not normal times and it set off a worldwide ruckus. It didn't just blow up on social media, it just blew up.

From late-night comedians Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah to Washington Post and Los Angeles Times columnists to nightly political talk shows to horror novelist Stephen King, the speculation about why Pence refused to wear a mask and the condemnation and ridicule that flowed from it seemed unending.

The top theory for the vice president's shrugging of Mayo's "everyone wears a mask" policy: Pence works for President Trump and Trump would have seen it and thought him a sissy.

The headline from a Los Angeles Times column chided Mayo for not enforcing its house rules: "Who's in charge at the Mayo Clinic -- the doctors or Mike Pence?" The Washington Post went Big Lebowski on Pence. "Dude .... what are you doing? Wear a mask?"

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Noah of "The Daily Show" cited Pence's refusal to wear a mask while visiting doctors and patients Tuesday as another instance of the administration's willful ignorance toward science.

"It turned out they told him to and he didn't want to" wear one, the comedian riffed. "I guess he was just like, 'it's OK everybody, I don't believe in science.'"

RELATED: Photos: Vice President Pence visits Rochester

Pence said he wanted to look doctors and nurses in the eye when he thanked them for their work. MSNBC news host Brian Williams noted that, "if your mask obstructs your vision, you're wearing it wrong."

King, the novelist, said Pence underscored an unspoken problem men have with wearing masks in these mask-wearing times. Real men don't wear a mask.

"Going barefaced isn't macho; it's stupid," King said.

For others, the violation was more fundamental, something as basic as following the rules of the house you enter.

When you enter a construction site, you wear a hard hat. When you enter a synagogue, you wear a yarmulke. And when you enter the famed Mayo Clinic and are surrounded by masked patients and doctors, you do as the Romans do.

"If you're a guest at somebody else's facility, even if you might be the vice president and they have a policy ... it's sort of like, if you went to Thailand and refused to take off your shoes before you went into a temple," said Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden.

You also have to consider the context. There have been more than 58,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. More people have reportedly died of the illness than died in the Vietnam War.

Kiscaden said people expect leaders to model the behavior they are urging others to adopt. It was an egregious example of "do as I say, not as I do."

"If this is what we're saying will help curb the transmission of the disease, which is in everybody's interest, then you expect your leaders to model the behavior that they're advocating to us," Kiscaden said. "He's head of the (White House) coronavirus task force."

The faux pas was a shame, others noted, because it distracted from the purpose of the visit, which was to shine a light on the amazing contributions Mayo has made in fighting the global pandemic. From testing to therapies to leading clinic trials, Mayo's contributions in the fight will be a chapter in the history books.

But that was overlooked by the mask brouhaha.

"It took away from at least what the message was supposed to be, which is the federal government showing its support for the wonderful work that our Mayo Clinic is doing," Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said. "That got completely lost in the day, which is sad."