Letterman skewers McCain for canceling ‘Late Show’ visit

September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON – John McCain should have seen this one coming.
The Republican presidential candidate suspended his campaign and dramatically announced he was going to Washington to help hammer out a $700 billion bailout to save the U.S. economy.
Then he called to cancel with David Letterman. At the last minute. Leaving the wickedly funny late night comic with blank airtime to fill. Probably not the smartest move.
“Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, was supposed to be on the program tonight,” Letterman said in an opening volley. “But had to cancel the show because he’s suspending his campaign because the economy is exploding.”
“You know who John McCain is,” he added to laughter from his live audience. “He’s the running mate of Sarah Palin, you’re aware of that?”
And that was just the start. Letterman wasn’t about to let it go. After heaping praise on McCain as an American hero, it was right back to the cancellation.
“When you call up and you call up at the last minute and you cancel a show, ladies and gentlemen, that’s starting to smell,” Letterman said. “This, this is not the John McCain I know, by God. It makes me believe something’s gone haywire with the campaign.”
“This just doesn’t smell right because this is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil,” he said.

A presidential candidate doesn’t just suspend the campaign, Letterman insisted.

“You go back to Washington. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. Let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee, that’s what you do. You don’t quit,” Letterman said, pausing to let his audience mull over the idea of McCain letting the little-experienced Alaska governor take over the campaign.
“Or is that really a good thing to do?” Letterman asked.
The jibes kept coming. McCain’s age — at 72 he’ll be the oldest president to start a first term in office — and Palin’s inexperience.
He reacted with mock astonishment when he discovered McCain had not raced back to Washington but was instead being interviewed for the CBS evening newscast with Katie Couric. Letterman watched a live TV feed from the studio as McCain’s face was patted with makeup.
“Doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?”
“Hey John, I got a question. You need a ride to the airport?”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (McCain at U.S. Capitol on Thursday after returning to Washington for talks on U.S. financial crisis)


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Dave is right, someone is puttig something in McCain’s Meramucil, he is not the hero of years past anymore.

The heck of it is, the lie was a needless lie. He could of just said:

“Hey Dave, I gotta go save the country, but first I have to go on CBS Evening News to tell the nation, and then help Rachael Ray, so I can’t make your show tonight, sorry bro”

Or something like that.

But nooooooooo! McCain has to make a big fat lie!!!

BTW, anyone that did not think Dave’s reaction was hysterical should probably also be taking Meramucil.

Posted by plaza04433 | Report as abusive

I live in Australia, and Dave is usually part of my late night T.V. Many Aussies follow US politics closely – what happens to you guys will eventually flow onto us to a degree.

Up until a year ago we had a Prime Minister (Howard)- in power for 10 years – who was a great friend and supporter of G.W. now we have a P.M Rudd)more aligned to your democrate philosophies. He addressed UN General Assembly yesterday.

I found Dave’s show hilarious. We have comedians satirists and commentators who take the same approach here, I can’t wait to see how many of his view filter into our media.

Well done Dave, you made some good points amongst the humour.


Posted by david Mckinnon | Report as abusive

First McCain did lie to the Letterman people about his immediate plans for the night. He could have said that his, Letterman’s, show was not a good forum to discuss the economic crisis; he would be glad to come again another time when the world was closer to being normal. Second, Letterman did have to fill empty air time. This requires a lot of scrambling and gnashing of teeth. He is responsible to the advertisers to provide an audience. Third, I can not believe that so many people are surprised Letterman was so mean to McCain. He is a Obama supporter. Wake up! The Democrats are on the verge of having control of all three branches of the federal government, something that hasn’t happened for a very long time. They believe they are the majority party and deserve to be in power. Letterman and any other “celebrity” will use their respective forum to influence voters to vote for their candidate or to vote against the opponent. Letterman is funny, continues to be funny, and this time next year a majority of the people who tuned him out for this incident will be back watching him. Take his and all other comments through a filter.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

This is all political posturing. WOOOSH! No, that was not McCain’s hurried pace to save DC, that was the sound of his poll’s plummet while he does news in NYC. Letterman does show bias and was pinched by the apparent no-show, but if McCain is ill-prepared for a 30 minute talk show that is a one hour flight from DC, while not uncommon to do 3-city rallies per day in the preceding week, then: first, how important are these senators–Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin–that they can just disappear campaining for years at a time; second, why is McCain now attempting to appear hard at work, while in actuality none of those senators are doing any work within this past year let alone what a normal 40/hr a week+ person would do; third, if they are not dilligent at their own jobs how can we expect them to know anything about how “economics” work for normal people; lastly, if there is a chance the republican nominees are avoiding debates or VP news coverage then either they are not assurred enough in their views or understand preparedness for pressure situations. In those executive roles, a person cannot just “wing it”,where is the execution? Palin seems too much like a fellow student in a political science course who upon being grilled on the reading material by a professor tries to get by with a smile or a vague unknowing response. Does not work these days–reporters are vipers. If the oval office is deferred to Palin due to McCains lack of vitality–god forbid–we will know that although Vietnam could not take down the fortitude of McCain, America’s relentlessness definitely can. It is not a soft job for bright smiles, weak minds, or the ill-prepared. As for myself, I cannot commit to a candidate yet, but this weeks events have further diminished my confidence in the major parties if not completely deflated my belief in the Republican nominees.

Posted by Joer978 | Report as abusive

Question: Why did McCain go to Katie and not David?
Answer: Because he cannot handle the truth. David is way too smart for him.

McCain is lying already, imagine if he became the next president! What a crook!

Posted by hercules | Report as abusive

To all of you knee-jerk naysayers who think Letterman’s just another Democratic shill, you might want to remember that he’s STILL jabbing Bill Clinton about his libido. He’s very much an equal opportunity offender, like all good comedians.

The fact remains that, had McCain been honest and said, “Dave, this isn’t the time for me to be on a comedy show, and Couric’s invited me to do her show. It’s more important for me to do the news,” he wouldn’t be in this spot. Instead, he tells a stupid “little white lie” and it’s blowing up in his face.

Posted by Shazzbot | Report as abusive

For several months, David Letterman has joined the other offensive Hollywood crowd, in telling insulting jokes, at Senator John McCain’s expense. Now, when one of the most important, challenging, and controversial decisions in our nation’s history must be decided, Letterman is still crying because McCain chose to do his job, fighting for the best deal he could get for Americans and America. I’d rather have McCain in Wasington watching out for America’s interests, than to have him on Letterman’s show, or to have our Nation’s future decided by Pelosi and Reid, who have a 15% approval rating for a good reason. If David Letterman cared about Americans, who made him rich, instead of being so self absorbed and petty, he would be supporting McCain and our country right now.

Posted by Howard | Report as abusive

According to Republican and Democrat congresional leaders, McCain came to Washington and holed himself up in his office with his team. He didn’t even attend the meetings, he just sent his comments from his office.

Wake up America, this “hero” is pulling out all the stops and becoming the sleeziest of politicians.

Just like Bush, he’s playing the politics of fear and capitalizing on the downturn in the economy by “Suspending the campaign” in order to look like he’s saving the day. He hasn’t been in Washington to vote on behalf of his AZ constiuants since April, but NOW he’s got to rush back to Washinton? Give me a break.

Posted by jamie | Report as abusive

David Letterman just isn’t funny anymore…. his anger with the Republican party and anyone associated with it oozes from his pores and makes his humor seem desperate.

I think David needs to remember that he is just a highly paid comic who once knew how to creatively express his views in witty dialogue.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Dave is a clown. America needs more than just clowns right now.

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive


Posted by TINA | Report as abusive

It will take a few terrorist nukes in this country to shut up all the idiots like Letterman. I really hope it happens, just to see the likes of him get humbled.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

I’ve yet to hear Dave the liberal make fun of Obama’s inexperience.

Posted by Kelly | Report as abusive

Dave has been on the air a long time now. He reminds me lately of other TV icons that stayed too long in the lime light.
Brinkley slipped into senility right before our eyes. Johnny Carson lost touch w/ his audience using badly timed jokes and out of date references.
Are we watching Dave melt down on personal tirades like Kelly her child labor issue in tantrums day after day?
David Letterman appears to be loosing his perspective with an over inflated since of his own importance.
CHANGE IS COMMING. Dave will have to step down sooner or latter, perhaps sooner.

The Friday night “interview” with Brian Williams was the last straw for my Letterman viewing enjoyment. When did Letterman stop being a comedian and become a political commentator? If McCain’s running mate was a man…would Letterman be giving the nominee so much grief about inexperience. How long has Obama been in the Senate…Less than 4 years! Not what I would call a seasoned veteran AND we’ve only had 1 non-Governor in the White House in the last 30 years! This is not the Letterman I’ve grown to know…he has always been neurotic and obsessive in a fun way but he has gone off the deep end and has lost his way. Shame, shame…I now have got more important things to do with my time than watch the Letterman show…my sock drawer always needs rearranging.

Posted by PG Merit | Report as abusive