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It was possible. Air space was crowded yesterday afternoon. McCain's plane wouldn't land in time for the taping.
Not wanting the final three weeks of the campaign to be an even heightened McCain feeding frenzy on the popular late night show, the Arizona Senator helicoptered up to New York in time for the taping.
All McCain, all the time
McCain's appearance was a perfect opportunity for Letterman to target the Republican nominee. Actually, his non-appearance provided many opportunities as well. Regardless, it was as the audience expected. A McCain-fest.
"Boy, you folks are here on a great night and I’ll tell you why – the entire balcony is filled with state troopers fired by Sarah Palin….there they are," he began.
Introducing himself, as he always does, Letterman offered, "And by the way, I’m your host for the program. I’m Dave the Plumber."
"How many of you saw the debate last night from Hofstra out there on Long Island," he continued. "I wanna tell you, it was a different John McCain, wasn’t it? He was electric. He electrified the crowd. And afterwards, Cloris Leachman tossed him her hotel key."
It didn't stop there, of course. Plenty more jokes were had the expense of McCain before Letterman unveiled the top ten list for the evening.
The target? Not McCain. Close enough though. It was his new super-hero friend: Joe the quasi-plumber. We've included the entire top ten list at the bottom of this post.
As for their conversation, the first few minutes were all about McCain's infamous cancellation. From Letterman asking of McCain, "Can you stay?" Yes, said McCain.
To the simple question that brought down the house: "What exactly happened?" Letterman asked.
McCain appeared as guilty as a student in the principal's office.
"I screwed up," he grimaced.
Not good enough
"You called me an hour and a half [before the show] and said 'We gotta get back to Washington.' But you didn't go right back to Washington," Letterman said.
"What can I say," McCain said. "It's been reviewed pretty thoroughly."
After Letterman said – to a much-relieved McCain – that he was "willing to put this behind us," the two eventually moved off the topic of the cancellation and on to the campaign.
When McCain asked if the comic was going to be saddened at the conclusion of the presidential contest because of the comic fodder it provides, Letterman deadpanned, "We're going off the air, John."
"Joe the Plumber" – the new fixture of the McCain campaign – surfaced many times during the evening.
As to the current controversy over whether Joe's taxes would actually increase under Obama's tax plan, McCain received audience laughter and applause for his answer.