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Who's funnier? McCain, Obama trade jokes over dinner

By Jimmy Orr / October 17, 2008

Jake Turcotte

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Barack Obama and John McCain appeared together yet again last night, and unlike prior meetings they both came away likable.

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Astounding? Yes. In light of three panned debates (although the last one was much better) and with the public's hatred of the Congress (approval rating 13 percent), the two Senators appeared together at the fancy-schmancy Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York.

Really funny

Only the hardest of partisans could harbor ill feelings toward either of the candidates during the event. McCain and Obama were funny. Really funny. And they even appeared to like each other.

In a sign of the approaching apocalypse, Bill Maher even conceded that McCain was funny.

McCain monologue

Up to bat first for the uber-wealthy, white-tuxedoed crowd was John McCain. And the first part of his opening line must have thrilled New York Times columnist Bill Kristol, who has been advocating for the wholesale firing of McCain's campaign staff.

"Events are moving fast in my campaign and yes, it's true that this morning I've dismissed my entire team of senior advisers. All of their positions will be now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber," McCain deadpanned.

The reference, of course, to the previously unknown sorta-plumber John McCain mentioned over 20 times in the third debate as a future victim of Barack Obama's tax plan.

In the flurry following Joe the Plumber's debut on the national stage, there has been much buzz that the quasi-plumber wouldn't make enough to see a tax increase under Obama's plan.

No matter.

"What they don't know," McCain explained, "...is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses."

The reference to McCain's August "housing-gaffe" drew much laughter, applause, and smiles across the room -- including a relaxed Barack Obama who seemed to be genuinely enjoying McCain's self-immolation.

Underdog

Acknowledging that he was the underdog, McCain said that even in a setting of "proud Manhattan Democrats" he had a feeling that there was support in the room for him.

"I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary," he said pointing to Obama's former rival.

Bill Clinton

McCain then asked where husband Bill was -- acknowleding that the former president had a "subtle approach" to campaigning for Obama's presidency.

"When a reporter asked him if Obama was qualified to be President, Bill Clinton pointed out, 'Sure, he's over 35 and a U.S. citizen.' He was pandering to the strict constructionist crowd," McCain said.

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