Among one subset of likely voters, John McCain is outpolling Barack Obama by a more than 4-to-3 margin: TV jokesters. The curmudgeonly Republican has received 549 jokes at his expense from January 1st to July 31st, compared with the crypto-Islamic Democrat's 382 punchlines.
Those are the latest findings in the D.C.-based Center for Media and Public Affairs ongoing joke analysis (and that's no joke). The nonpartisan center reviews the laughs from the monologues of Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to, as they put it, "provide a lighter look at major news makers." Politicians led the pack, although Roger Clemens snuck in at No. 9 with 74 mentions.
During the period studied, neither major party's presumptive presidential candidate made the top spot or even No. 2, which were reserved for President Bush (602 jokes) and Hillary Clinton (562). John Edwards, whose dalliance at the time was still the exclusive province of the National Enquirer and Mickey Kaus, did not make the top 10.
In parsing the results, McCain got twice as many jokes pitched his way by the late-night folks (Jimmy Kimmel, we hardly knew ye) as did Obama. Leno, whose contract is not being renewed at NBC, cracked wise the most about Bush and Hillary Clinton, with 208 and 204 jokes, respectively.
Meanwhile, Comedy Central's hipster scene-setters Stewart and Colbert actually made more fun of Obama than McCain or Bush (207 jokes for Obama, 201 for McCain, 179 for Clinton and 177 for Bush). "Obama's heavy coverage by the news media," opined the center's authors, "may have spurred greater attention from these 'fake news' shows, which stick close to the daily headlines."
And the punchlines? Mostly low-hanging fruit.
For McCain it was his age: "It's time the media started trumpeting McCain's exciting story: He's old and no one likes him." — Steven Colbert
Obama? His elitism and the lap-dog press corps: "The tour (or Europe and the Mideast) may strike some as presumptuous. In fact I joked that Obama would be stopping in Bethlehem to visit the manger where he was born." — John Stewart
Although Colbert's "Obama rejects public financing — so he's not only a secret Muslim, he's a secret hypocrite" is pretty tasty, too.
And Senator Clinton? Her Energizer Bunny campaign: "Brett Favre says he has reconsidered his decision to retire and he wants to get back in the game. Today Hillary Clinton said, 'You can do that?'" — David Letterman.