The late-night comedians may have made an early exit from the scene, but fortunately there was no shortage of political punch lines in 2007. From tapping toes and UFOs to prostitution scandals and $400 haircuts, it was a year in which politicians did their best to satirize themselves.
As a salute to our nation's fine public servants, here's a look back at the year's most memorable feats and foibles. The envelopes, please.
Winner of the George Orwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historical Revisionism: Karl Rove, for claiming that Senate Democrats prematurely forced President Bush to go to war in Iraq when Congress passed the war resolution in 2002. It was the White House's position, Rove insisted, that the issue should not have been politicized right before an election. On hearing that claim, Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff, laughed and said sometimes Rove's "mouth gets ahead of his brain."
Runner-up: Bill Clinton, for claiming he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, although fortunately in Clinton's case, at least it was only his mouth that got ahead of his brain.
Best Debate Sound Bite from a Republican: "In case you missed it, a few days ago Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time." —John McCain, referring to the years he spent as a P.O.W. (Watch video clip)
Best Debate Sound Bite from a Democrat: "I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there's only three things he mentions in a sentence—a noun and a verb and 9/11, and I mean, there's nothing else." —Joe Biden (Watch video clip)
Best Exhibition of 9/11 Tourette's Syndrome: Asked why he interrupted a speech to the NRA to take a cell phone call from his wife (a stunt he's pulled many times during campaign events), Rudy Giuliani explained it was because of 9/11. "Quite honestly, since Sept. 11," he said, "most of the time when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other."
Least Surprising Revelation: Dennis Kucinich's admission that he once communed with a UFO, confirming an account in Shirley MacLaine's book that said he "felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind" as an otherworldly, triangular craft hovered above him. As David Letterman joked, "Dennis Kucinich doesn't seem like the type of guy who would see a UFO; he seems like the kind of guy you'd see coming out of a UFO."
Best Fodder for the Late-Night Comedians: Senator Larry Craig (R-estroom) gave "new meaning to the word caucusing" (David Letterman) when he was caught playing footsie in the men's room with his infamous "wide stance." Craig announced his resignation, then later reversed his decision after "talking it over with guy in stall number 3" (Conan O'Brien), angering his Republican colleagues, some of whom "stopped having sex with him" (Jimmy Kimmel). The staunchly anti-gay lawmaker denied being a hypocrite, saying, "Hey, I wasn't trying to marry the cop in the bathroom" (O'Brien). Later, he was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame — not the entire hall, "just the men's room" (Jay Leno).
Best Sex on the City: While Rudy Giuliani was carrying on his extramarital affair as New York mayor, he reportedly billed taxpayers for security expenses incurred during his love romps in the Hamptons; attempted to hide those expenses by billing obscure city agencies; and enlisted the N.Y.P.D. to serve as a personal taxi service to chauffeur around his mistress on long trips and walk her dog.
Best Example of Why the Joke-Telling Should Be Left to the Professionals: Responding to a questioner who asked whether she was capable of handling evil-doers like Osama bin Laden, Hillary Clinton grinned as she answered, "What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?" It was unclear what she may have been implying about dealing with her husband, but as Conan O'Brien speculated, it may explain "why Hillary wants to look for bin Laden at the nearest Hooters."
Information We Most Assuredly Could Have Done Without: A toss-up between Michelle Obama's disclosure that her husband has such bad morning breath that their children won't crawl into bed with him because "he's too snore-y and stinky"; and John Edwards' intimation that his wife's rib cracked during some good lovin'.
Most Likely to Flunk a High School Civics Test: Dick Cheney, who in an attempt to shield his records from the National Archives, claimed that the office of the vice president is not a part of the executive branch, but rather a part of the legislative branch. It was also revealed that Cheney has invented his own secret document designation ("treated as" secret) to shield his everyday papers from the scrutiny of posterity, and keeps several man-sized safes where he can hide the rest of his secrets, or, if need be, his waterboard.
Runner up: White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who admitted she had never heard of the Cuban missile crisis. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure," she said.
Most Expensive Poverty Tour: After John Edwards billed his campaign for two $400 haircuts, the anti-poverty crusader was roundly ridiculed by the late-night comics and various Internet hecklers, as well as by GOP rivals like Mike Huckabee, who scored a twofer when he quipped, "We've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."
Most Invertebrate: Congressional Democrats, who in their steadfast determination to end the Iraq war, valiantly passed a series of non-binding resolutions and hosted a pajama party before ultimately rubber-stamping bills to continue funding the war at a cost of some $2 billion per week. Their approval rating bottomed out at 11 percent, which, it should be noted, is substantially lower than Michael Jackson's (25) or O.J. Simpson’s (29). "Democrats were so stunned at this number," Bill Maher joked, "that it sent a chill up and down where their spine used to be."
Next: Worst Theme Song, Best Bushism, Least Likely to be Seen on "Dancing with the Stars"