“Well, Jim,” the fellow playing Al Gore (Darrell Hammond) famously said on “Saturday Night Live” 12 years ago, “Governor Bush and I have two ve-ry diff-er-ent plans to of-fer tax re-lief to American families. In his plan, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans would receive nearly fif-ty per-cent of the ben-e-fits. My plan, Jim, is diff-er-ent. Rather than squand-er the su-plus on a risky tax cut for the wealth-y, I would put it in what I call a… `lock-box.’”
Moderator Jim Lehrer (Chris Parnell) asked: “Governor Bush, your response?”
“I don’t know what that was all about,” replied Bush (Will Ferrell), “but I’ll tell you this: “Don’t Mess With Texas!”
And with that single piece of late-night comedy, the writers and actors of the long-running NBC comedy show displayed a power of parody over politics that year which has spawned an entire television genre of Comedy Central programs since then.
The real Al Gore who showed up in the second of the 2000 presidential debates with the real George W. Bush was playing a different hand — his advisers had shown him, between debates, the tape of the spoof that Hammond made of his first performance. Bush? He was playing the same Bush.
The President Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah), making his debut in the fall 2012 season of SNL over the weekend opened with: “Before we start, `Sasha and Malia, go to bed’ — I do that to remind you that I have two adorable young daughters and not five creepy adult sons.”
“The economy’s in the tank, the job market is horrible, and now even my foreign policy is under attack,” Obama (Pharoah) says. “I am not worried in the least… and I’ll tell you why — our campaign has a secret weapon.”
“Hello, I’m Mitt Romney, and I understand the hardships facing ordinary Americans,” says Romney (Jason Sudeikis). “For example, this summer at the Olympics, one of my horses failed to win a medal.”
“He makes me laugh,” Obama (Pharoah) says.
“So America, I know you’re not in love with me anymore,” Obama (Pharoah) adds. “`But I want to prove that my heart still beats for you,” and he breaks into a riff of the Al Green song that the president tried once at a podium.
If this is the late-night warm-up for the first of the 2012 presidential debates scheduled Oct. 3 in Denver, the campaigns once again may be watching the Sunday morning-after tapes.