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John McCain tries his hand at satire on "Saturday Night Live"

Starring in two short skits on the season finale of "Saturday Night Live," John McCain reeled off a series of one-liners that generally earned little more than mild chuckles.

But it's a good bet he and his staff could not be more pleased with the exposure he got -- especially the chance to use humor to try to defuse one of the big questions shadowing his presidential candidacy. And the audience's wild reaction.

That issue would be his age -- if he wins in November, at 72 he would be the oldest person ever to begin a first term in the White House. And McCain, well known for his vigor, played off that inescapable fact at the very start of a mock address to the nation he delivered about 30 minutes into the show.

What voters should be looking for in a president, he intoned, is someone who is "very, very, very old."

Later in the bit, the presumptive Republican nominee referred to his "great, great, great grandchildren," the youngest of whom, he added, are "nearing retirement." And, in his best deadpan, he asserted he has the "oldness" necessary to be an effective chief executive.

Polls have shown a larger percentage of voters say age -- rather than race or gender -- could cause them to turn against a candidate. So confronting the matter head on, and poking fun at it, may well be in McCain's best interests.

In the same skit, he caricatured ....

... his staunch opposition to Capitol Hill's penchant for pork barrel spending. Among the multimillion-dollar projects he had fought against, he said with a straight face, was a device "to jam gaydar."

Insisting he did not know whether such a machine was anti-gay or pro-gay, he called it a project "best left to state and local government."

He got his chance to tweak Democrats -- and their prolonged presidential fight -- a few minutes later during SNL's "Weekend Update" faux news segment. Again talking directly to the camera rather than interacting with cast members, he urged the opposing party to take "every possible second" before settling on a nominee.

In fact, he opined, it would be "crazy exciting" for Democrats to complete their late-August convention in Denver still undecided on a standard-bearer.

McCain stayed on the NBC set to join the en masse onstage gathering at the show's end. There, he exchanged a prolonged handshake with the evening's musical guest -- Usher, one of the recently named co-chairs of Barack Obama's national voter registration drive.

Unknown if the two exchanged any political gossip.

-- Don Frederick

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I saw that. Being an Arizonan I loved the "earmark" part -- no more roads, almost no postal service, barely any drinking water -- except for cactus juice. The "gaydar" part was hilarious. Heck, McCain showed he has a sense of humor. I'm still voting for Hillary but I am proud of my senior senator as well, at least at SNL.

even in his lame effort to formally imitate - and detract from, RON PAUL's firm stance on keeping federal government out of all matters they have no constitutional right of meddling with, mccain shows his 'true' (i.e. false) colors: while he 'jokingly' or grudgingly concedes that the federal government would have no right to interfere with anyone's sexual preference, he obviously has no problem having state and local government massively interfere with individual liberty, even where this does not cause harm to life or property of others. this goes to show he does not understand the constitution, and does not value liberty. it is unconstitutional to try to impose personal beliefs on others. what would be next after his 'gaydar jamming machine' - a 'brainwashing machine' for you and me? hands off, mccain.

He was great! I laughed so hard I about peed my pants!

I watched Saturday night live and thought it was great that Senator McCain was on.... It is great when a politician does not have such a huge e-go that he would go on Saturday night live and make fun of the political process.
I would love to see Obama on the show, and of course how about President Bush??? He would be hilarious... he is anyway....

McCain's role was minimal. McCain declined to participate in the Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) townhall in Irvine on Saturday because he couldn't tear himself from SNL. Not even for 10 minutes. He cited a lack of technology. Funny, given that he was in the NBC studio. Both Clinton and Obama participated via satelite/phone. I guess McCain really does hate all gooks, and always will.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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