Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Somebody's putting something in his Metamucil": Dave vs. McCain, the transcript

Since some people can't access the YouTube clip at work, I got, courtesy of CBS, a partial transcript of last night's "Late Show with David Letterman" -- including the monologue, his comments after sitting down at the desk, the Top 10 list, and Dave's interview with fill-in guest Keith Olbermann -- coming up after the jump.

Maybe you’ve heard the big news. John McCain, Senator John McCain, Republican candidate for President, was supposed to be on the program tonight. Were you aware of that? But he had to cancel the show because he’s suspending his campaign because the economy is exploding. You know who John McCain is... he’s the running mate of Sarah Palin.

So John McCain calls up and says I’m not going to be there kids, because everything is going to hell. But the funny thing is that no one told his vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, and honest to God, right now she’s still circling the theater in a white minivan. She’s gonna pick him up later...

And then after McCain canceled being on the show, he rushed right back to Washington to deal with the economic crisis and I thought, well, he sure nipped that in the bud, didn’t he? And I was thinking about this, well maybe if he hadn’t taken two years off to run for President, he wouldn’t have to rush back to Washington now to deal with the crisis.

A lot of you folks are saying that the big tragedy is that he won’t be here tonight. But he’s also canceling the debate on Friday. He will not be participating. So that means Barack Obama will have to debate Regis. What are you going to do?

John McCain said to me the economy is about to crater. To crater. You folks worried about the economy? Not me. I’ve got all my money in second-hand FEMA trailers. I’m not worried about the economy, I’ve got all my money in an alpaca ranch. I’ve got all my money in Rosie O’Donnell aftershave.

But Sarah Palin was at the U.N. yesterday. A big hit. She’s over there meeting all the world leaders. And she’s still learning who all the world leaders are. She thinks that Warren Buffet is the head of Margaritaville. And why wouldn’t he be? She was at the General Assembly and someone said to her, “Oh, look over there. That’s the President of Georgia.” And she said, “Wow, Jimmy Carter.” And then she said, “Boy, I hope I get to meet Queen Latifah.”


We’re all running around here a little ragged at the last minute because Republican presidential campaign nominee John McCain was going to be our guest. We always like having the Senator on the program. Here’s a guy, by the way – I have nothing but the highest regard for this man. He’s a true American hero, and as Bill Clinton said the other night, gave everything but his life for America during the Vietnam War. And we’re in sorry need and short supply of actual heroes like John McCain.

I love and respect and admire the man for that. Who among us doesn’t wish he had that kind of steel, that kind of commitment. In a North Vietnamese prison camp for four years, and the North Vietnamese come to him and say, “Guess what? Your time’s up.” And he said, “Well, does everyone get to go home? And they, “No.” And he said, “Well, I’m not going home until everyone gets to go home.” Who can do that? This is why we love that man.

But when you call up, and you call up at the last minute and you cancel the show, Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s starting to smell. This is not the John McCain I know, by God. It makes me believe that something is going haywire with the campaign. I don’t know. Somebody’s gotten to him and somebody said, “You know what, blow Letterman off. He’s a lightweight.”

But here’s what you do. Sure there’s an economic crisis, and here’s what you do if you’re running for campaign in the middle of an economic crisis and it’s about to crater. That’s a quote from him. I love that expression. The economy is about to crater. Well, I’d like to see that! Here’s what happens, the economy is about to crater. You’re a senator. You’re a fourth-term senator from Arizona. You go back to Washington. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. You let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee, that’s what you do. You don’t quit...or is that really a good thing to do?

This guy doesn’t have an ounce of quit in him. So all of a sudden, we’re suspending the campaign? Look, if I drop dead right now, my hand to God, Paul’s taking over the show. You say, “I’ve got to get back to Washington to save this country.” Good for you. “And while I’m gone, campaigning in my stead will be my great running mate from the state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.” And she comes out and campaigns. What happened there? What’s the problem? Where is she? Why isn’t she doing that?

So I don’t know. But you heard it here first. This doesn’t smell right. This just doesn’t smell right. This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil.

And let’s say there’s a time of crisis... and the poor guy, because he’s a little older – he’s about my age and Sarah Palin takes over as president... She ought to be ready because she’s handled crises like these in the past. Oh, wait a minute, she really hasn’t handled a crisis like this in the past.

Let me just go through this one more time to make my point absolutely clear: He can’t run the campaign because the economy is about to crater. Fine. You put in your second string quarterback. Well, where is his second string quarterback?

The republican presidential campaign candidate is suspending his campaign. Suspending his campaign! You don’t suspend your campaign. Do you suspend your campaign? Because that makes me think that well, you know, maybe there’ll be other things down the road if he’s in the White House, he might just suspend being President. I mean, we got a guy like that now!

You don’t suspend your campaign. If you believe in your vice presidential candidate, you say, “Sarah, I have to go back to Washington to save the economy. You take over.” And she says, “Gotcha!”

So now I wonder if he’ll ever come back. Do you think he’ll come back? A hero. An honest-to-God hero. An American hero. Maybe the only actual hero I know. I’ve met the man. I know the guy. So I’m more than a little disappointed by this behavior. “We’re suspending the campaign.” Are we suspending it because there’s an economic crisis or because the poll numbers are sliding?

I mean there’s really no need to suspend anything. You could say, come and do the show and go to the debates and then spend more time at your desk in the Senate. And then let your vice presidential candidate carry on the campaign. Carry on the campaign! She could be on this show talking about how you field clean a moose. Talking about how you smoke enough salmon for the winter...

The Top Ten Questions People are Asking The John McCain Campaign

#10 “I just contributed to your campaign – how do I get a refund?

#9 “It’s Sarah Palin – does this mean I’m pars’dent?”

#8 “Can’t you solve this by selling some of your houses?”

#7 “This is Clay Aiken. Is McCain single?”

#6 “Do you still think the fundamentals of our economy are strong, Genius?”

#5 “Are you doing all of this just to get out of going on Letterman?”

#4 “What would Matlock do?”

#3 “Hillary here – my schedule is free Friday night.”

It’ll be interesting here to see if Barack Obama feels the need to suspend his campaign to go down there and work on the economy. He’s also a senator. And his running mate, Joe Biden, he’s also a senator. So there, those two guys have to get back to work. So of course, they’ll suspend their campaign. Don’t you think?

The Democrats are now at a real disadvantage because Barack Obama has got to race back and fix the economy. So does Joe Biden. He has to race back and fix the economy. But the republicans have Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska. The Alaska economy is fine. It don’t need fixing. It’s fine. So she’ll continue the campaign. So the democrats are really in a hole now.

#2 “Is this just an excuse to catch up on napping?”

#1 “This is President Bush – what’s all this trouble with the economy?”


DAVID LETTERMAN: Well, first of all...

KEITH OLBERMANN: I can’t stay, I’m sorry... (laughter) Are you saying I wasn’t originally scheduled to be here?

DL: No. This man, on many occasions, has done us the favor of coming in when we’ve had trouble. And no greater and more short-notice trouble than tonight. So once again, thanks again for running in here. I certainly appreciate that.

KO: I was... the right place, right time thing applies. I was around the corner.

DL: Thank you. And what do you think of all this – the racing back, suspending the campaign...

KO: I think you hit the nail on the head there. I think he’s afraid to stand up to you. He can’t take you on.

DL: He wouldn’t be the first man.

KO: No. I thought twice about coming over here. And having seen so much of the show so far...I’m thinking Dave’s on fire tonight...

DL: But what does it mean? We know what it means now but what does it do to the campaign generally?

KO: It does throw it into a bit of havoc – particularly with the debates. Because you’ve got all four debates – the three presidentials and the vice presidential debate – were supposed in the span of 19 days. So that’s only 15 days that don’t have a debate in there. And you’ve got to reschedule a lot of things and of course you have religious holidays, football games, everything else. We may see one of the debates canceled, not postponed. Now if there were to be a debate canceled, what do you think would be to the McCain campaign’s advantage?

DL: Probably canceling the vice presidential debate.

KO: See? This is what I was thinking.

DL: But they’re talking about canceling Friday night presidential debate.

KO: Well, yeah, but then you’re saying there will only be two presidential debates. How can we do that? It could be a tie. Someone has to win two out of three...and then they advance to play the Montreal Canadiennes in the semi-finals...

DL: The Canadiennes are involved? Boy, I just don’t know anything about the Constitution.

KO: Or Senator Clinton, as you pointed out. It might be that. I’m does throw it into a bit of havoc. That’s the idea.

DL: I just have to say this...and it’s hard to say because you have to regard him more highly anybody you know. But this just stinks. I mean, I’m not wrong about that, am I?

KO: No. I was sitting in the back listening to the whole show so far and going, “I don’t think that I should tell Dave this other part that he doesn’t know about.”

DL: Tell me. Tell me.

KO: (to Paul Schaeffer) You’re prepared to take over when he runs off screaming about this? (to Dave) Apparently this morning, the Obama campaign called the McCain campaign and said, Look, with this bill not passed, this bailout – an interesting term by the way considering his not being here and the debate – with this bailout not having passed, we’ve gotta ...let’s make some show of solidarity. Let’s make some sort of joint statement on behalf of both the campaigns. The next thing you know, the statement comes out of the McCain campaign saying: We’re shutting down and we don’t want to be at the debate Friday night...It sounds like an episode of the West Wing. It’s an Obama idea that the McCains then ran against Obama to some degree.

DL: I just wonder because the idea of a bipartisan agreement here, a show of support, that’s all they’re ever talking about to get things through Congress. So to be part of that now seems like it would have been a pretty good idea. That’s a win-win for everyone.

KO: Also, the other part of this that is a little strange is that Senator McCain was claiming, I think it was two days ago, that all the economic problems were Senator Obama’s fault – which just seems a little strange to say that now is a time for non-partisanship – now that I got my shot in.

DL: They also said about a week ago that the fundamentals of the economy were in place and sound, essentially.

KO: Well they were, a week ago. Time moves, as you know.

DL: Giving Senator McCain the benefit of the doubt, maybe – and certainly, I’d be the last to know – maybe we’re in greater trouble than we thought we were earlier this morning.

KO: How long do you think he was going to be in the building here hours or something?

DL: I don’t know.

KO: A briefing and then a sit-down with you and then a lunch and then a nap and then the show? Look, if the economy could not wait – if the vote of this could not wait the length of the appearance here on the your money right now. What’s the point? We’re that far gone? And the debate...Now watch, someone’s going to eat their money...

DL: I would hate to be the reason there were breadlines in this country.

KO: A great point about the debate Friday and canceling it – what they should have said was – alright it was supposed to be about international politics and international affairs. Make the debate Friday about the economy. Let’s hear what your two plans are. Suddenly everybody turns into an economic policy wonk...

DL: You’re absolutely right about that.

(Commercial break)

DL: I don’t mean to cut into your time during your generous visit, but when John McCain – and he was nice enough to call me on the phone and said that he was racing back to Washington – our people here were told, so serious, he’s getting on a plane immediately and racing back to Washington. And now we’ve just been, take a look -- do we have it on the thing? This is going live...there he is right there. (monitor shows live feed of McCain having makeup touches for a CBS News interview with Katie Couric) Doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he? This just gets uglier and uglier. I’m feeling bad for the man to have participated in this...First of all, the road to the White House runs right through me. Well, let’s just punch up Katie Couric’s interview and Keith, you can go back to wherever you came from...Let’s just see what he has to say here. This will be interesting....let’s see if he’ll mention me. Hey, John, I got a question – do you need a ride to the airport? Now, this stinks. You tell me. You know how things work. Is it his fault? Or is it something that CBS News got a hold of him and said, “You gotta come in here and do that.”

KO: Oh boy, how much trouble can I get into and how fast? I would be speculating. There’s very little done in that campaign without his knowledge. I think he dissed you.

DL: Yeah, absolutely.

KO: Unless, her first question is, “Now, Senator, why did you cancel on Dave?” Or the other possibility is that she has all the money that’s required to fix the economy.

DL: She’s bailing him out.

KO: If that’s it, I’m voting for her. So there you go.

DL: I don’t want to keep beating this thing but it really is starting to smell now because he says to me on the phone...I took a phone call from him – a lot of senators don’t call me. And so I felt like, Ok, as part of the national good, I understand and I said good luck. Thank you for being attentive to the cause...and he said maybe next time I’ll come in, I’ll bring Sarah Palin. I said, fine, whatever you need to do that’s just fine. And he said yeah, we’re going to go save the country. And then it’s like we caught him getting a manicure or something.

Now listen, I read a thing in the paper where after some election coverage – oh, convention coverage – they said that you and your buddy Chris Matthews over there at MSNBC were being yanked off the debate coverage. Did that happen?

KO: Well, we got a call from John McCain that he wouldn’t show up if we were going to be there. No, I’m kidding. We’re not the anchors anymore. We’re just going to be commentators.

DL: Are you alright with that?

KO: I’m actually going to be on more than I was previously and can actually say what I think rather than going, “Now here’s more from such and such over there... You?” You know that stuff. So I don’t have to do... basically, I can just sit there and eat -- between appearances – eat ice cream for 20 minutes at a time and then come back and go “That’s the crappiest answer I’ve ever heard in a debate.” It makes no difference.

DL: So things are better this way.

KO: Yeah. They actually are. They’re certainly easier. And I can enjoy election night.

DL: OK. I’m going to ask you this one more time. What will this do to the Republican campaign. Honestly? If I were a huge Republican campaign donor, I’d say, “What do you mean you’re suspending the campaign?”

KO: It’ll quiet it down for a little while. There won’t be that much coverage of it – which is a probably a good thing, given the coverage there’s been recently. And I think the poll know, if your campaign puts your candidate out there...if John McCain goes on Meet the Press, Face the Nation or whatever, for 45 minutes and says nothing but the host just throws eggs at him for 45 minutes...that’s worth half to one electoral college vote. Just the exposure. Just your puss on TV for 45 minutes. So if you just disappear for a couple of days so that it seems like you look presidential....first off, if the other guy has to too, it doesn’t matter. It’s your fault because you went out with it first without negotiating. I don’t think it really works out too well. Plus, as I think you pointed out once or twice – where is the vice presidential candidate in this? She couldn’t come out here and do the interview with you?

DL: But if I were Barack Obama and Joe Biden...remember when you were a kid, and you found out there was so much snow you weren’t going to school? That’s how I’d be feeling now. “Hey, did you hear the good news? They’ve suspended their campaign!”

KO: Friday night’s debate...the debate Friday night could be Obama vs. Biden. Look... “Senator, what do you think?” “I think Senator Obama is 100% correct.” “Senator Obama?” “I like Senator Biden’s answer on this.” Hour and a half for free on television...

DL: Thank you for dropping in again. Always a pleasure. You’re a true gentleman and we appreciate your attention.


Prior to announcing the next guest, actress Chandra Wilson:

DL: We’re told now that the Senator has concluded his interview with Katie Couric and he’s now on the Rachael Ray Show making veal piccata.