The final Saturday before Election Day was a huge one for Saturday Night Live.
First, NBC went to the unprecedented step of repeating the previous week’s late-night show in prime time, giving even more viewers a chance to see Jon Hamm of Mad Men as guest host.
Then, on Saturday’s new late-night episode with guest host Ben Affleck, SNL opened with a double-barreled political salvo: a cold-open sketch with Sarah Palin played by Tina Fey, and John McCain played by… John McCain.
Instead of lampooning an actual campaign event, the writers invented one. They countered Barack Obama’s big-ticket purchase of national TV for a prime-time special by imagining McCain’s low-budget alternative: selling campaign-themed items on QVC.
Fey’s Palin was his co-salesman, offering such merchandise as “Ayers Freshener” before “going rogue” and surreptitiously offering, with a wink, her own sale item: a “Palin in 2012” tee shirt, for sale after Tuesday.
McCain, meanwhile, was cashing in on the legacy of his McCain-Feingold Act by offering some glittery necklaces called “McCain Fine Gold” – a funny bit made even funnier by the jewelry’s silent but showy presenter, Cindy McCain.
Then, during “Weekend Update” (anchored, for the second straight week, by a solo Seth Meyers), John McCain appeared again, to describe and reject some desperate ploys for 11th-hour vote-getting techniques. The best of them: “The Sad Grandpa,” which McCain described very animatedly.
“That’s where I get on TV,” he explained, ‘and go, ‘C’mon, Obama’s going to have plenty of chances to be President. It’s my turn. Vote for me!”
Meyers, as part of the joke, told McCain he agreed that approach probably wasn’t a good idea. But at least McCain got to say it once, on a series that, this political season, has gotten more attention than any other TV show. On the last weekend of the 2008 presidential campaign, it was a good way for him, and SNL, to go out.