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John McCain is returning for that chat with David Letterman

October 12, 2008 |  3:45 pm

April 2008: John McCain in one of his dozen appearances with CBS late-night host David Letterman.

Presidential candidates have long used the late-night comedy shows to show off the more amusing or interesting aspects of their personalities. (Remember Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in 1992?)

This year's Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, has made 13 appearances on NBC's "Tonight Show," most recently on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, and a dozen on CBS's "Late Show."

In fact, the Arizona senator is so comfortable with "Late Show" host David Letterman that he chose to announce his candidacy for the White House on the program in early 2007. After his effort sagged badly and appeared dead, he re-announced his bid on Leno's show.

The late-night hosts have returned the favor by largely laying off his Democratic opponent and making McCain by far the butt of far more jokes, according to a study.

McCain was scheduled to appear on the "Late Show" Sept. 24 -- the same day that he announced, with great fanfare, that he was suspending his campaign and returning immediately to Washington to deal with the burgeoning financial crisis. Letterman was understanding -- until he discovered, via an internal CBS feed brought to his attention while he was taping a segment with replacement guest Keith Olbermann, that McCain was not on a plane winging its way to the nation's capital.

Instead, he was five blocks away in New York, getting his makeup touched up before an interview with Katie Couric, anchor of the CBS "Evening News."

To put it politely, the late-night comic was not amused about being stood up. “He doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?” Letterman said. He then shouted at the television monitor: “Hey John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?”

Last week, as the one-way feud simmered, the New York Post reported that the two sides were discussing the possibility of the GOP candidate returning to the program. But on Thursday, as The Ticket reported here, Letterman lit into McCain yet again, wondering whether any pledge to show up "could be trusted."

Well, it looks as if Letterman is not only trusting McCain's promise to return, but has verified it as well: According to Letterman's website, he'll be on the show Thursday, the day after his final debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama at nearby Hofstra University.

-- Leslie Hoffecker

Photo credit: Associated Press / J.P. Filo