Last night, both presidential candidates surprised us — they proved that Tina Fey isn’t the only person in America capable of being funny in this campaign. After a heated debate on Wednesday night, McCain let off some steam by going on the Late Show with David Letterman and undergoing the host’s criticism with good humor and some jokes of his own. After sitting down and before apologizing, McCain started out by saying, “I have a son in the Marine Corps and I asked him to FedEx me a flak jacket.” When Letterman asked McCain if he went “through the phonebook” to find Sarah Palin as a running mate, McCain shot back, “Well, we have this dartboard…”
Later in the evening, McCain and Obama appeared side-by-side (with Archbishop Egan giddily squashed between them) at the Alfred E. Smith dinner at the Waldorf. Click through to watch video of McCain’s Letterman appearance and to read both candidates’ best one-liners from the dinner.
Some of the best zingers from the Alfred E. Smith dinner:
• John McCain, who apologized to Joe the Plumber on Letterman for dragging him into the limelight, said that the Ohio native shouldn’t have to worry about paying his taxes. He “recently signed a lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all work on all seven of their houses,” he whispered into the mike
• “It’s gonna be a long night at MSNBC if I manage to pull this thing off,” McCain added. “For starters, I understand Keith Olbermann has ordered up his own ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign.” After laughter, he continued: “I’ve asked him to call me so I can tell him right where to put it.”
• Obama also made fun of himself. “It’s often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith,” the Democratic candidate said, referencing the four-term New York governor for whom the dinner was named. “And the ears of Alfred E. Newman.”
• And, deflating his own oft-lampooned messianic image, Obama referenced Superman. “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the earth.” Nerd alert!
• “I was originally told we’d be able to move this outdoors to Yankee Stadium,” Obama added. “Could somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns I requested?”
• The candidates didn’t save all their barbs for themselves. They also went after the Clintons. “Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can’t shake the feeling that some people here are pulling for me,” McCain said. “I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.”
• Barack Obama referenced Mayor Bloomberg’s intention to run for a third term, which, he cracked, “caused Bill Clinton to say, ‘You can do that?’”
Also, Matt Drudge thinks Katie Couric has started ripping off Sarah Palin’s hairdo. Wow, literally everybody was funny last night!