Flashback: Steve Carrell Nails McCain On Pork-Barrelling

Back when the media was allowed to question him, a certain sharp-eyed journalist caught McCain on not always being so maverickly anti-earmark.

As I sit here in LaGuardia with the McCain-Palin ticket bleating away in the background, I'm hit with a bit of deja vu — mostly because I heard their speeches yesterday in Lebanon, Ohio so I am pretty sure that, just like Sarah Palin's speech is pretty much word for word, I'd bet that McCain's going to reiterate the same points that he made yesterday — including his attack on his "opponent" that he's never stood up to his party (which isn't quite true when you consider that lil' ol' Iraq war vote, but also, McCain's party was the party of the Bush administration so therere *may* have been a bit more to stand up for, which I'm sure he can be proud of having done approximately 5% of the time. Sheesh.

But also, and more to the point, no doubt he will go on about how he will veto pork-barrel spending and rein in earmarks and how he's always been so maverickly anti-earmark and pork-barrelling. As a matter of fact, he has not — and back when the media was allowed to question him without passing a strict prior deference-and-respect test, a certain sharp-eyed journalist caught him out on that. The year was 1999, and it was Steve Carrell with the Daily Show. Charlie Gibson, take note:

Here's some backstory to this clip, from the New Yorker's "Annals of Entertainment: Is It Funny Yet?" by Tad Friend, from February 11, 2002:

"In late 1999, one of the show's correspondents, Steve Carell, boarded Senator McCain's campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, and asked the candidate to name his favorite movie and his favorite book. Then, with no change in his expression, he asked McCain how he could reconcile his criticism of pork-barrel politics with the fact that "while you were chairman of the Commerce Committee, that committee set a record for unauthorized appropriations." For a long moment, McCain was speechless. Carell started laughing. "I'm just kidding!" he said. "I don't even know what that means!"

"That's a true fact, that question," [then-head writer Ben] Karlin said. "And McCain was caught in the headlights. But we punctured it with a joke, so all you're left with is funny and awkward. It's bittersweet."

For months after the interview, McCain played a tape of the exchange with Carell on the Straight Talk Express's video screen — a decision that does him credit.

Guess he lost the videotape or something.

Go To Homepage

Popular in the Community