"I own a timber company?"

By Rebecca Traister
Published November 2, 2004 10:35AM (UTC)
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Those who watched Saturday Night Live's special Presidential Bash on Monday night may have been amused -- or horrified -- by the fact that in spoofing this year's debates, the writers didn't feel the need to goose many of George W. Bush's actual lines in order to get laughs. The special included memorable past sketches of debates between Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford and Dan Ackroyd's Jimmy Carter, Dana Carvey's George H. W. Bush and Jon Lovitz's Michael Dukakis ("I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!"), and Darrell Hammond's Al Gore and Will Farrell's George W. ("Strategery").

But when it came time to satirize this year's debates, writers relied almost entirely on a verbatim transcript of the second dabate. Will Forte did a pitch-perfect imitation of the president's reaction to those pesky draft rumors on "the Internets," a dead-on recap of his "I own a timber company? That's news to me...Need some wood?" incredulity, and his refusal to name three mistakes he'd made. All they needed to tack on was some ribbing of John Kerry's loquaciousness. Seth Myers as John Kerry concluded by saying, "I should just say three simple things he did wrong. He didn't pursue Osama Bin Laden; he gave tax breaks to the very rich, and he mistakenly went to war in Iraq. Then I should just sit down, confident in the fact that I just cleaned the president's clock and not say anything else. But I'm not going to do that. No, I'm going to keep on talking. Why? Because I just can't help myself."

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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