"It is an honor to be here with Al Smith," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaking at the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner to benefit Catholic charities. "I obviously never knew your great-grandfather, but from everything that Sen. McCain has told me, the two of them had a great time together before prohibition. So, wonderful stories."
So began Obama’s comedy monologue, which included a few good yuks, as did McCain’s.
McCain, the schtickier (and arguably, funnier) of the two candidates, spoke first at the dinner packed with V.I.P.s that is traditionally the last side-by-side appearance of the two presidential candidates, as well as an opportunity for them to poke fun at each other and themselves.
The roast, which raised $3.9 million to help underprivileged children, is dedicated to the memory of former Democratic New York Gov. Al Smith, the first Catholic to win the presidential nomination of a major political party, who lost to Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928, 444 electoral votes to 87.
"I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me," McCain said, turning to the far side of the stage. "I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary."
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and all others in the crowd, guffawed.
McCain added that Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, "has been hammering away with me with epithets like ‘hero.’”
McCain said that his rival was not fazed by being called "That one," during the second presidential debate. "He doesn’t mind at all,” McCain said. “In fact, he even has a pet name for me: George Bush.”
In a sign of just how much the media-McCain relationship has turned, the Arizonan stated that “the press is really an independent-minded, civic-minded, non-partisan group, like ACORN."
"It’s going to be a long, long night at MSNBC if I manage to pull this thing off,” McCain said. “I understand that Keith Olbermann has ordered up his very own ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner. They can hang it up in his padded room."
McCain introduced Obama, who, at one point joked that he was confused.
"I was originally told the venue would be Yankee Stadium,” he said. “Can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?"
Obama said the venue was fine, though.
"I do love the Waldorf Astoria," Obama said. “I hear from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tea Room." It prompted much laughter from McCain.
Then Obama turned to the question McCain had been asking as of late: Who is the real Barack Obama?
“Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger,” Obama said. “I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the planet Earth.”
Regarding his name, Obama said that “Barack is actually Swahili for ‘that one.’ And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president.”
Said the Democrat, “If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it’s possible that I’m a little too awesome.”
Obama took on another McCain criticism: the attack, earlier this election season, that he’s nothing more than a celebrity.
“I have to admit that that really hurt,” Obama said. “I got so angry about it I punched the paparazzi in the face on my way out of Spago’s. I’m serious. I even spilled my soy chai latte all over my shih tzu. It was really embarrassing.”
“One other thing,” Obama added, “I have never, not once, put lipstick on a pig or a pit bull or myself. Rudy Giuliani, that’s one for you. I mean — who would have thought that a cross-dressing mayor from New York City would have a tough time winning the Republican nomination? It’s shocking. That was a tough primary you had there, John.”
He added that “some of the rumors out there are getting a bit crazy. I mean, Rupert the other day, Fox News actually accused me of fathering two African-American children in wedlock.”
He added that “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.”