New York, Oct.17 : A study shows that the Kings of Late Night are not equal-opportunity destroyers this year when it comes to telling jokes about the candidates for president and vice president.
They are hammering Republicans a stunning seven times more often than they skewer Democrats, reports Fox News.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a media analysis group, kept a tally of jokes told about the presidential contenders on the "Late Show" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in the five weeks after McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate and vaulted the little-known Alaska governor into the national spotlight.
The total: Republicans, 286. Democrats, 42.
"Generally the Republicans get targeted much more often than Democrats, but this election is driving it off the charts," Fox News quoted CMPA Executive Director Donald Rieck, as saying.
Letterman and Leno told 106 jokes about McCain and 180 about Palin in the 25 shows that aired between August 29, when McCain chose her, and October 2, the date of the vice presidential debate.
Barack Obama, who may be Leno's guest next week, was targeted only 26 times -- barely once a night. His gaffe-prone running mate, Joe Biden, who is scheduled to appear on Leno Thursday night, was hit only 16 times, not even one-tenth the number of jokes told about Palin over the five-week period.
McCain's date with Letterman Thursday came after he canceled a scheduled appearance in September, leaving the late-night comedian hopping mad.
"I screwed up," McCain told Letterman on the set when asked about the cancellation. He jokingly said he asked his son in the Marine Corps to FedEx his flak jacket in preparation for the visit Thursday.
Although Letterman said he was "willing to put this behind us," he came after McCain hard with questions. He asked whether Sarah Palin was his first choice as vice president.
"Absolutely," McCain answered.
Letterman repeatedly pressed McCain on her qualifications, asking if he was confident she could lead the country in a time of crisis.
"In all due respect, one of the people I admired most was an obscure governor of a southern state called Arkansas and he turned out to be a fairly successful president," McCain said, complimenting Bill Clinton.
"Ronald Reagan was a cowboy, no experience in international affairs. I think she has shown leadership."
The Republican candidate canceled his previous appearance so he could go to Washington to deal with the economic crisis.
While recording his show, Letterman learned that McCain was still in New York, doing an interview on the CBS Evening News, and he spent much of his show skewering the Republican who stood him up.
Palin also has taken a big hit from the late-night comedians -- and from Saturday Night Live, where Tina Fey's parody of the vice presidential candidate has skyrocketed the show's ratings. It is rumored that Palin will make an appearance on SNL on October 25.