Campaign Comedy: Monday's Late-Night TV Wrap-Up

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By actual count, it's five weeks until Election Day.

How many laughs will TV wisecrackers log at the expense of the presidential candidates between now and then? That's not so easy to project. But Monday, as usual, the late-night wags were upping the total. Along the way, they also had a woebegone baseball team and a market meltdown in their sights.

CBS' Craig Ferguson noted that Monday "was a terrible day on Wall Street." The "Late Late Show" host reported that "the stock market fell one jazillion points and Congress botched the bailout deal. Experts on Wall Street say it's the biggest disaster to hit New York City since the Mets," who were knocked out of playoff contention in the final game at Shea Stadium.

On NBC, "Late Show" host Conan O'Brien reminded viewers that "earlier today the House of Representatives failed to get enough votes to pass the Wall Street bailout plan. Since that didn't work, they're going to attack an even bigger problem — bailing out the New York Mets."

And on CBS' "Late Show," David Letterman listed the Top Ten Features of the Rejected $700 Billion Bailout, including "No. 6: A billion dollars to rebuild the Mets bullpen."

But it really was a rough day on Wall Street, Letterman confirmed: "If you went down there, you could see all the brokers taking a smoking break out on the ledge."

Last Friday's presidential debate was also on the comics' minds.

On Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert cited the charge by Republican presidential hopeful John McCain that Democratic challenger Barack Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy.

"A tactic," explained Colbert, "is when Bush used political operatives to slander McCain in 2000. A strategy is when McCain hired those same operatives to run his campaign in 2008. Totally different."

On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart made sport of McCain's claims of long experience as a public servant: "I told Hannibal to use elephants over the Khyber Pass," joked Stewart-as-McCain. "Barack Obama: The night you were conceived, I was there!"

Both Stewart and Colbert derided Obama for repeatedly agreeing with his debate opponent: "Obama added, 'McCain '08!'" Stewart cracked.

The vice presidential candidates didn't escape comic scrutiny.

According to O'Brien, "Critics are still analyzing Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric, and they're saying she was halting, repetitive and stumped on basic questions. In other words, Palin appeared very presidential."

The upcoming debate Thursday between Palin and Democrat Joe Biden will be a big deal, Ferguson said. It's an important race, he said, pointing to Vice President Dick Cheney: "For the last eight years, George Bush has been just a heartbeat away from the presidency."