This Week's Best 'SNL' Surprise Was a Guest Spot, Not a Political Shot

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The sixth post-strike installment of NBC’s Saturday Night Live opened with a lengthy lampoon of C-SPAN’s coverage of the Senate Foreign Relations hearing on Gen. David Petraeus’ report on Iraq. It was a skit that managed to include all three presidential candidate impersonations, yet they were upstaged during the skit, and upstaged shortly thereafter by an unannounced celebrity appearance.

The opening skit had Petraeus (Will Forte) grilled, in turn, by Sens. John McCain (Darrell Hammond), Hillary Clinton (Amy Poehler) and Barack Obama (Fred Armisen). Obama isn’t even a member of the committee, but was allowed to participate because, as the chairman explained to McCain and a scowling Clinton, “The guy’s gonna be the next president – no offense.”

Poehler has a great time as Hillary Clinton, and drew big laughs whether she was insisting she had “been against this war my entire life,” questioning Petraeus on whether sniper fire “can often be very quiet and hard to detect,” or just staring angrily into the camera.

But even Poehler was upstaged by Bill Hader’s contorted-face impersonation of veteran Sen. Robert Byrd. He stole the skit – and would have stolen the entire show, except for “The Cougars Show” sketch that had Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Casey Wilson as women on the prowl for younger men. Guest host Ashton Kutcher played the young quarry of one such cougar, and got to toss of lots of lines that alluded to both girlfriend Demi Moore and her ex-husband, Bruce Willis.

But the woman who had caught the cougar, a Latin spitfire, was played by unbilled guest Cameron Diaz, who, no less so than in her own hosting appearances on SNL, was an absolute hoot. Why did she show up unannounced? Probably because she and Kutcher are co-starring in What Happens in Vegas, a romantic comedy opening next month.

There was a reason, too, this week’s “Digital Short” was so lame. It was explained, in a long superimposed crawl over a low-rent “Daiquiri Girl” music video, that the last-minute short was a replacement for one that wasn’t filmed, because the celebrity guest backed out at the last minute. The first time there was no identification, but the second mention of the last-second bail-out pointed to the week’s musical guest, saying the celebrity bailed “even though you had a verbal agreement, Gnarls Barkley.” Bet he won’t be booked again too soon.

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