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

Jake Turcotte

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

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.


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.


In a monologue interupted numerous times by laughter and applause, the joke that appeared to receive the most cheers was when McCain took a jab at MSNBC.

"It's going to be a long, long night at MSNBC if I manage to pull this off, " he said. "I understand that Keith Olbermann offered up his own 'Mission Accomplished" banner ... If they need any decorating advice on that banner, ask Keith to call me so I can tell him right where to put it."


Barack Obama was not upstaged by the Arizona Senator despite his faux displeasure at holding the event at the Waldorf-Astoria.

"I was originally told we'd be able to move this outdoors to Yankee stadium, and -- can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?" he asked, lampooning the venue and stagecrafting set up for him at the Democratic National Convention.

Taking an immediate jab at Sarah Palin, he offered, "I do love the Waldorf-Astoria. You know, I hear that from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tearoom."

Oh, Joe...

His own running mate was fair game as well.

"At one of these campaign rallies, someone in the crowd started yelling, 'no-bama,' announcing to everyone in the room that I shouldn't be the Democratic nominee because there were far more qualified candidates. I really wish Joe Biden hadn't done that," he said.

Riffing right from recent news events, Obama announced the topic of his remarks.

"Recently, one of John's top advisers told the Daily News that if we keep talking about the economy, McCain's going to lose. So, tonight I'd like to talk about the economy," he deadpanned, perfectly.


In regards to the nation's economy and housing crisis, Obama upped the ante on McCain's earlier remark stating, "And while the collapse of the housing market's been tough on every single home owner, I think we all need to recognize that this crisis has been eight times harder on John McCain."

Who is?

Mocking some of McCain's recent campaign commercials which ask the question, "Who is Barack Obama?" the Democratic nominee offered a full explanation.

"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 planet Earth," he said.

As for his middle name "Hussein" which sadly has become an issue to fringe elements on the right, Obama sought to clear up an urban myth, "First of all, my middle name is not what you think. It's actually Steve. That's right. Barack Steve Obama."

Watch John McCain's monologue here.

Watch Barack Obama's monogue here.

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