When the latest installment of Saturday Night Live parodied Friday’s presidential debate, the NBC comedy program gave attention to Barack Obama’s connections to convicted criminal Tony Rezko, corrupt Chicago politics, and Obama’s recent attempts at "playing the race card," which notably are all matters that the mainstream news media have given little attention to. While the show also took a number of shots at John McCain, several times having him propose a bizarre gimmick like challenging Obama to a pie-eating contest for example, the Illinois Senator also received several noteworthy jabs. One line involved McCain’s character, played by Darrell Hammond, referring to Obama, played by Fred Armisen, as making an earmark request titled "Tony Rezko Hush Money." Obama’s character also bragged that his tax cut plan would benefit Chicago politicians and city employees "because my plan would not tax income from bribes, kickbacks, shakedowns, embezzlement of government funds, or extortion."
The Obama character later promised that he would "play the race card" against dictators like North Korean President Kim Jong Il if necessary to guilt-trip them into dismantling their nuclear programs, as he would accuse Kim of refusing to cooperate with him because "I’m not like the other guys on the $5 and $10 bills."
The MRC’s March 3 Media Reality Check documented the media’s scant interest in the trial of corrupt Chicago businessman Tony Rezko, an Obama supporter whose wife assisted in a deal by which the Obama’s purchased a $1.6 million home. And the joke about Obama "playing the race card," which is primarily based on a line Obama used to employ regularly as a laugh line during appearances until he was called out by Senator McCain for the joke’s suggestion that McCain's campaign was using racism. But the line could also be considered apropos to Obama’s recent effort to "play the race card" as his campaign distorted statements by Rush Limbaugh to accuse the conservative talk radio host of racism and to try to link the comments to Senator McCain. The media’s lack of interest in this story was documented in the September 23 Worst of the Week.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the September 27 Saturday Night Live:
JOHN MCCAIN, PLAYED BY DARRELL HAMMOND: Jim, what the American people need to understand, and what Senator Obama does not understand, is that the real problem here is excessive government spending, especially congressional earmarks and pork barrel projects. ... And how about this? $8.2 million for something called "Tony Rezko Hush Money."
BARACK OBAMA, PLAYED BY FRED ARMISEN: John, I withdrew that earmark right after [UNCLEAR WHETHER ARMISEN SAYS "I" OR "he"] began cooperating with prosecutors, and I think you know that.
MCCAIN: Senator, the fact is, to fund all the other programs, your planning will require a massive tax increase.
OBAMA: John, once again, you’re not being truthful about my proposals. Under my tax plan, not only would every American making less than $250,000 per year get a tax cut, so would most members of the Chicago City Council, as well as city building inspectors. That’s because my plan would not tax income from bribes, kickbacks, shakedowns, embezzlement of government funds, or extortion.
JIM LEHRER, PLAYED BY WILL FORTE: Now, let’s turn to the topic of nuclear proliferation. Senator Obama, you have frequently been critical of this administration’s efforts to stop Iran and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
OBAMA: I have.
LEHRER: What would you do differently.
OBAMA: First of all, Jim, I would use traditional diplomacy, something this administration has consistently refused to do. Should that fail, then and only then, would I try what I call "playing the race card."
LEHRER: And how would that work?
OBAMA: Take North Korea. I would ask Kim Jong Il to shut down his country’s nuclear weapons program. If he declined, I would say to him, "All right, I get it. I know why you’re really refusing to stop the program." And he would say, "No, what are you talking about?" And I would say, "It’s because I don’t look like all the other Presidents you’ve dealt with." And then he would say, "Wait, that’s not fair. That has nothing to do with it." And I would add, "That’s cool. I understand. I’m different. I’m not like the other guys on the $5 and $10 bills." It’s a long, delicate process. But eventually, he’ll have to give in.