A look back at the funniest political moments, comedy bits, and controversies of 2009.
Quitter Sarah Palin provided comedians everywhere with fresh comic material when she went all mavericky and announced her abrupt resignation as Alaska governor in July. David Letterman: "Palin will no longer be the Governor of Alaska. First thing, she woke up and went out on her porch and waved goodbye to Russia." Conan O'Brien: "Alaskans are saying they can't wait to start reading Palin's memoirs and then quit halfway through." Palin's resignation also inspired the year's best political bumper sticker: "Palin 2012 - 2014 1/2."
After he went missing for several days, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford became a national laughingstock when it turned out he was not "hiking the Appalachian Trail," as his staff claimed, but was in fact off in Argentina chasing tail. "It turned out he was down there because he was sleeping with a woman from Argentina. Once again, foreigners taking jobs that Americans won't do," David Letterman joked. "Just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis," quipped Jon Stewart.
The anti-tax "Teabagging" protests held across the country were met with widespread mockery from all comers -- from cable news talking heads to the late-night comics to Internet jokesters. The fact that the right-wing protesters who staged the rallies were oblivious to the true meaning of "teabagging" just made taunting them all the funnier. MSNBC's David Shuster, for his part, described the parties as "full-throated" and "toothless," adding that they wanted to give Obama a "strong tongue-lashing and lick government spending." He also joked that the GOP was "going nuts" for teabagging but would "need a Dick Armey."
Two aspiring reality-TV stars, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, made a mockery of White House security when they crashed a State Dinner for the prime minister of India. David Letterman: "Since 1980, there have been 91 breaches of security at the White House. Well, 92 if you count George Bush."
David Letterman drew the ire of Sarah Palin with two jokes he cracked. The first was a line in a top ten list that mocked Palin's "slutty flight attendant" look, and the second was this line about her visit to Yankee Stadium: "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game: During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." Palin accused David Letterman of making what she said "sexually-perverted comments" about her 14-year-old daughter, even thought it was clearly targeted at Palin's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, who was famously knocked up by her boyfriend. Letterman ultimately apologized, while poking fun at the "Fire David Letterman" protest staged by Palin supporters outside the show.
It's hard to imagine imagery more cringe-worthy (or likely to cause psychological scarring and/or burning of the eyes) as that of Tom DeLay shaking his ass on national TV. When the former House Majority Leader and indicted criminal appeared on the 2009 season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," he cut loose to "Wild Thing," doing the cha cha in his orthopedic shoes, sliding across the stage, playing air guitar, and shaking his booty at the camera. As Newsweek's Holly Bailey wrote, "Somewhere in Idaho, Larry Craig is leaning in very close to his television."
President Obama pokes fun at himself and the Washington establishment in his debut as comedian in chief at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. Obama on Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Mother's Day: "This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He's not used to saying the word 'day' after 'mother.'" On House Minority Leader John Boehner and his fake tan: "We have a lot in common: He is a person of color. Although not a color that appears in the natural world."
The healthcare town hall protests brought a parade of wingnuts out of the woodwork to share their conspiracy theories and unhinged insanity with the world. Their shortcomings in logic were matched only by their inability to spell. They decried the "pubic option," the "youth in asia" trying to kill grandma, Obama's crisis of "competnce," and thanked FOX News for keeping them "infromed."
The over-sized bow hat worn by Aretha Franklin at President Obama's inauguration become a viral sensation, with photoshoppers creating a series of funny images featuring Aretha's hat taking over the world.
After being mocked by William Shatner over her rambling farewell speech and her nutty Tweets, Sarah Palin finally got her revenge during a surprise appearance on "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien." She answered Shatner's reading of her book "Going Rogue" with a reading from Shatner's autobiography. "My whole being resonated with incredible feeling that I was going to go visit with an elephant, on a starless, moonlit night in Africa," Palin said, holding Shatner's book in her lap. "And I was going to visit that elephant in my underwear."