Now, he thinks that us "real" news types aren't such wussies after all.
"My respect has gone up drastically for the actual people who have to stay there all night," he said, arriving at Comedy Central's Election Night party in Chelsea.
"Luckily, we ran out of material so we just called the show and walked away," he said, before posing for photographers with one of the fake news reporters on the show, Rob Corddry.
Corddry said that when he left the crummy little office after the show Tuesday night "I was feeling really good on the fourth floor" about John Kerry's chances.
The building has no elevators, and the stairs were not kind to Coddry. "By the time I got to the first floor," he said, "people were convincing me that I was stupid . It was like a hailstorm...of pessimism...'Corddry, you're a jerk.'"
He said he had an interview Wednesday before his usual noon wake-up time, so he'd resigned himself to drinking light beer all night while watching the returns.
Daily Show Senior Correspondent Steve Colbert got out of a bright yellow taxi and asked me, standing on the curb waiting for him, what was happening in Ohio.
"We're in a little bubble," he said of the cast. "We're so nervous about how the actual election will go" that it was hard "to think about how our show was going."
"I couldn't wait for the show to be over so I could find out what the real people were saying" on TV.
Earlier in the evening, if you'd wanted to watch The Daily Show on one of the party's 16 monitors, the election party thrown by the program itself probably wasn't your first choice.
It's not that people aren't paying attention. But they were laughing so loud at the jokes I kept having to turn to the guy standing next to me at one of the three bars and ask him to repeat the punch lines. This got a little tiresome for him, I sensed, and so I moved on to watch Ethan Hawke watching the show-intently-with Mena Suvari and others in a VIP booth.
November 2, 2004 10:12 PM CST: Do they all know each other?
Now Ethan Hawke has removed his John Deere cap and his scuzzy shearling jacket and is paying close attention to "The Daily Show," which is running on 16 monitors in the party rooms here at Comedy Central's election night party.
In his booth, sitting a mere two young women away, is Mena. (For more on her voting habits and last name, see below). You can see the outline of her ribs from the back in her cute little outfit.
Hawke, I mean Ethan, is drinking what appears to be a Grey Goose and tonic, though it could be club soda. Or gin and club soda? That sounds like something John Kerry would drink. George Bush doesn't drink any more. But, boy, back in the day, did he ever!
OH YEAH? I asked a young man holding a beer if he happened to know what the election returns were showing as he and I stood in front of a bank of screens showing the live Daily Show.
Patiently, Shaw Bowman, who works on the show's website, gestured toward the show on the screen and--as if he were talking to an utterly clueless woman who had just wandered in from under a boulder--said, "They're not really sticking to the facts.
Now I get it!
SO SAMANTHA BEE IS NOT A REAL REPORTER? On the Election Night special she asked a whole bunch of intrusive and personal questions to men and women on the street. Sample: "Have you had a homosexual thought?" Answer from the perfect stranger, "Probably."
This prompted Daily Show correspondent Bee to observe, "Wow! So many things to learn from people." The journalist's credo. Couldn't put it better myself. But I promise not to ask anybody at the party THAT question.
November 2, 2004 9:31 PM CST: Peering from the armpit area
Actress Mena Suvari says she can't stay up all night if it comes to that--to see if her candidate, John Kerry, wins the election.
"I have to be at work at 5:30"--that's a.m.--she said as she was escorted to a reserved VIP booth at The Daily Show's election night party. I asked her what she'd do if Bush wins. "Leave the country," she said, laughing.
Suvari, tiny in tight distressed (holes in the left thigh and right front pocket) blue jeans, vamped for the cameras showing off her almost bare back. A red wall of The Daily Show/Comedy Central logos was in the background. Hey, this party is about publicity, kids.
Mena (think I can call her by her first name?) said she was "nervous" and "kind of anxious" as she waits for the election results. At least I THINK that's what she said into a mic from the celeb-worshipping show Extra.
I was mostly peering at the actress from the armpit area of an Extra interrogator and thusly could see nothing but her shiny lip-glossed lips moving sweetly as the "reporter" seemed to be asking her life story. It went on forever.
In case you were wondering, Suvari is a fan--"huge"--of Jon Stewart whom she describes as "a great guy." As for The Daily Show, "It makes you want to learn" about politics.
Yes, she says she did vote, absentee out of California. She lives in L.A.
I could have asked her a bunch more questions--she seemed infinitely patient--but I found myself, uh, losing interest and kind of woozy and hypnotized by the disco balls in an adjacent room.
WE AINT IN KANSAS! From the ceiling, hovering over the salmon and steak buffet, twirled the mirrored disco balls--not round at all--but shaped like a donkey and an elephant.
THE CHICAGO ANGLE: Kwame Jackson, the guy who lost to Chicagoan Bill Rancic on The Apprentice, is here. Rancic is involved in the construction of the Trump tower that will replace the Chicago Sun-Times on the Chicago River.
I asked Jackson if he had any good secret skinny on Rancic but he wisely observed, "Bill--I don't think he has any more secrets. He's a public person. Hopefully he'll build that building straight. No leaning tower of Pisa." Hopefully.
Kwame (see first name basis with celebs above) was standing next to a stunning young woman, Darlene de la Rosa.
"We're on a hot political date," he said. "Not debate. Date."
They met--this is the truth--at a "dumpling rolling party." "You know, like spring rolls," Kwame amplified.
He was wearing a black no-wale corduroy sports jacket with the collar turned up in a most jaunty manner.
They are both Kerry supporters and both said they did vote.
WHOA,THEY'RE EVERYWHERE: I just spotted actor Ethan Hawke wearing a green John Deere gimme cap. And, nobody recognized him (but little MOI) as he stood at the bar and watched a live feed of The Daily Show.
November 2, 2004 8:06 PM CST: The hottest Election Night party
This has got to be the hottest AND the funniest Election Night party of all time: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart's special invitation-only event.
Watch this space for updates from the three, full, open (free!) bars for celebrating--or drowning your sorrows.
We're in Chelsea in a giant venue, The Park, which has been besieged with calls since word got out that Stewart and The Daily Show's four "correspondents" will be here after their hour-long live Comedy Central show.
HOW COOL IS DAT? This is an ultra hip place where J. Lo had a birthday party, Johnny Depp threw a film launch and cast and crew of the Law and Orders hang out after filming in the neighborhood.
"Fake News in Real Time," says one sign greeting the 600 invitees--mostly Comedy Central staff, media and VIPs.
"1 Anchor, 4 Correspondents, Zero Credibility" says another giant banner hanging amidst at least 16 television monitors where Fox and NBC are reporting on the election.
DOH! Don't care? The Simpsons are playing on another monitor, this one in "The Spin Room."
That's where two giant Wheel of Fortune type you-spin-it wheels feature Bush-isms and Kerry-isms with a big photo in the center of each candidate in a stars and stripes top hat.
FROM THE LIPS OF OUR NEXT PRESIDENT: A sampling--and, yes, the Bush-isms are a lot funnier than the Kerry lines.
"I think we agree, the past is over."
"You teach a child to read and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."
"The literacy level of our children are appalling."
"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
"Neither in French nor in English, nor in Mexican."
And, last but not least, "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating."
"I think Charlize Theron is extraordinary."
"I love baseball. I love football. I love sports. French skiers."
"Hypothetical questions are not real."
"There's a little Huck Finn in me; there's a little Tom Sawyer in me."
And, the classic, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
MUSIC BUT WHO'S LISTENING? I'm typing this in The Park's micro office away from the incredibly loud music system where DJ Colt Seavers (real name Eric Galuskin) is playing "vinyl only, baby!" He climbed a ladder to a perch 12 feet above the floor and, then, someone took the ladder away. Please don't let there be a fire drill.
Seavers tells me, "I spin a lot of soul classics. Forgotten 80s. Some new stuff. And rock."
That means Marvin Gaye, The Gap Band, Edie Brickell, Mary J. Blige, Black Crows, White Stripes. Not that many people in this crowd are paying attention to the tunes, though. Not when they can watch Tim Russert and Brit Hume.
FREEBIES: Party favors here include campaign style buttons that say, "The Most Trusted Name in Fake News."
And speaking of fake, there are "voting booths" with red white and blue curtains where someone will take your picture with a fake background of Stewart and the correspondents, Steve Colbert, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee and Rob Corddry.
THINK THEY'LL HANG OUT TOGETHER? A whole bunch of celebs are expected here tonight. The guys from the boy band Thursday just walked in. Others who said they'd drop in range from Regis Philbin to Mos Def.
Now that's what they call a generation gap!
October 29, 2004 6:40 AM CDT: Straight from Bush's lips
I heard this straight from George Bush's mouth: "People flip me off but I haven't had anything thrown at me, yet."
Has partisan politics gotten that bad? Short answer: Yes.
Though the little story above about Bush is not quite what it seems.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. At a downtown intersection, I found myself shouting into the huge mouth of a three-foot high Bush paper mache head, trying to talk to the (real) guy inside.
That would be puppeteer David Morley whose massive paper mache hands, stapled to his suit coat, held signs that said, "Send Me Back to Texas" and "Vote for Kerry Edwards."
If you looked down Big-Bush-Head's throat you could see Morley's eyes, which was a kind of freaky experience.
Anyhow, it was Morley with the anti-Bush signs who was getting the occasional finger and thumbs down from passersby.
THIS IN FROM THE OTHER SIDE. Although there was no Giant John Kerry Head involved, pro-Bush sign holder Don Bryfogle told me he too was getting the occasional one finger salute as he stood on a street corner here. But, said he, most people were in pretty good spirits and didn't try to run him down with their car or anything.
ABOUT THAT CAR. It was a silver Cadillac. That's what Barry Seltzer was driving when, police say, he tried to run down Republican U.S. Rep Katherine Harris on Wednesday in Sarasota. Harris, who was not hurt, is running for re-election to the House. She is best known for her constant and irritating presence on television during the 36 day vote recount that led to Bush's election four years ago here.
Driver Seltzer told police that trying to mow down the Congresswoman was an act of "political expression," which would be taking Free Speech to a whole new level.
MORE FLORIDA POLITICAL MAYHEM. We have already reported that presidential politics creates serious rifts between husbands and wives. Now this.
An 18-year-old who couldn't convince his girlfriend to support Bush, held a screwdriver to her throat and threatened to kill her.
"You won't live to see the next election," Steven Soper purportedly told Stacey Silveira, when she continued to support Kerry. This according to a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
THE 'H' FACTOR. It's not just Florida, but every state I've visited since last winter: In all my years as a political reporter (many), I have never seen so much base hate (usually not the Silver Cadillacscrewdriver kind) in a presidential race.
As one Bush supporter told me, "You don't know how strong I feel about John Kerry. I feel very, very, very, very strong. ... I'll be honest with you. I have no respect for him as a man."
While this voter holds the record for most "verys" I've encountered this year, I assure you that the Bush haters feel every bit as passionate.
Which brings us to the next point:
FLORIDA FIASCO II? Morley in that Bush Head (see above) was milling around Thursday evening hoping to get a photo of himself with "Fahrenheit 911" filmmaker Michael Moore.
Moore, whose hunger for TV attention rivals Paris Hilton, wanted to bark into a television camera to urge people to vote and to rant about another balloting mess here.
This time, tens of thousands--maybe as many as 60,000--Broward County absentee ballots were missing--allegedly mailed out by election officials but not received by those who requested them.
"We're going to do what we can to find out who's responsible!" Moore bellowed.
(If election officials put 'em in the mail, what did they expect?) Not surprisingly the U.S. Postal Service people says it's not their fault.
This finger pointing has an eerie déjà vu Florida 2000 feel doesn't it? There's plenty of time for more of same with four days to go until Election Day. And, who says it can't go on well past that day? It's entirely possible that we won't know who won by the close of the polls next Tuesday anyhow.
Incidentally, county officials decided to overnight mail new absentee ballots Thursday to people who didn't get them the first time.
Think that's the end of this set-to? I don't.
PRESS ONE. A reporter friend of mine got a phone number from a reporter friend for a jokey, highly anti-Bush spoof of a phone sex service. A breathy voice says, "If you want to be lied to about Iraq, press 1. If you want to be lied to about John Kerry, press 2. If you want to be lied to in a fake Texan accent, press 3 and so on.
The tape is more bizarre than naughty. You hear a sexy voice say things like "major combat operations have ended baby," or "Tony Blair loves our special relationship." And to have someone excitedly repeat "Four more years" to heavy breathing, faster and faster well, you get the idea. I don't know who thought up this thing or how much it costs.
In the interest of fairness, if someone out there in cyberspace knows of an anti-Kerry phony phone sex phone number, let me know.
Press 1 if you wish this election were over right now.
October 28, 2004 6:48 AM CDT: Center of the Universe
That enormous sucking sound? It's the noise you hear when thousands of political volunteers from across the country are slurped into this epicenter of Election 2004.
Meanwhile, everything you've read or heard about the race for the White House is happening right here, in a town that reminds me of DuPage County with palm trees.
Passion. Vitriol. An outcome too close to call. And Virgin Voterspeople who have never before voted for Presidentare lined up for hours to cast ballots in early voting here.
DUELING OUT-OF-TOWNERS. I dropped by the dueling South Florida campaign headquarters of George Bush and John Kerry and found impassioned volunteers in both places who traveled from Illinois to work the phones for their candidates.
With Illinois not in contention (Kerry has it sewn up), Carbondale's Eldrina Harris was staked out at Bush HQ to try and cinch it for her man. She left her little spot at a folding table just long enough to fetch a bag of Doritos, then resumed calling GOP voters to make sure they received their absentee ballots.
Meanwhile, over at the Kerry officesa low-slung, putrid yellow stucco building with green awningsEvanston's Ruby Robinson said she knew she had to come to up-for-grabs Florida to satisfy herself that she was doing all that she could to un-elect Bush.
The room was filled with volunteers from other faraway points too, including New York, San Francisco and even an American living in Ireland.
There are an astonishing number of people wandering the streets of this townin shorts, sandals and garish Hawaiian shirtswho moved here from Chicago. So I ran into a lot of jokes about "voting early and often." And conversations usually veer into lamentations about the Chicago Cubs.
But once that's out of the wayoh, and some snide comments about Chicago wintersthese Florida voters cannot wait to tell you how much they hate A. George Bush or B. John Kerry.
THE CHAD IS BACK.After the debacle of four years ago, when vote counting took 36 days and Bush won the state (and thus the presidency) by 537 votes, Florida officials decided to permit early voting this time around.
People have been lining up, sometimes for hours, to cast ballots at a limited number of polling places that have been open for more than a week now.
This is convenient for out-of-town reporters and television crews hankering for pictures of signs that say "Vote Here" or "Official Polling Place." This also gives us a chance to resurrect the phrase "hanging chad."
LAWYERS LINE UP. Just like four years ago, it's highly likely that the vote in Florida will decide who is president. And this time the Democrats are tripping over themselves to make sure that every one of their votes is countedat least once.
By the time the real Election Day arrives Tuesday, I'm hearing that several thousand volunteer Democratic lawyers will be on hand to parse the Florida election code.
Already on the job is Paul Dansker, a New York personal injury lawyer, who told me he felt compelled to take off work and come to Florida.
"This is the center of the universe," he said. And, for Election 2004 it probably is.
Dansker, proudly wearing a Brooklyn T-shirt, has already looked into a number of voter complaints and problems since polling places opened Oct. 18. "We're hoping that it's inefficiency but we're ready for malfeasance!" he said.
Brian Richardson, a spokesman for the Dems' Legal Voting Rights Team, says they've already handled scores of complaints including "small incidents of voter intimidation."
The line at the main library downtown here around 5 p.m. Wednesday seemed pretty intimidating to memore than 150 people waiting for a chance to vote on the ATM-like screens that have already caused quite a fuss since there is no paper backup in case the votes are challenged.
But I didn't hear anybody griping about the waitabout 35 minutes.
Outside, a couple protesters held up a white bed sheet (it looked Queen size, but it could have been a King) painted, "No Stolen Election" in black and electric pink.
'GROUND ZERO'Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards, who was in the state Wednesday (it must have been veep day; Dick Cheney was here too), has called Florida the "ground zero" for "the most important election of our lifetime." Everyone seems to be straining for Armageddon metaphors to describe the importance of the 27 electoral votes at stake (10 per cent of the total needed to win).
FIRST-TIME VOTERS.The single most striking phenom I ran into was the number of older first-time voters, from both sides. "This is the first election I've ever voted in," 59-year-old John Sykes told me. The retired yacht broker said, "I think this is a seminal election because we have two very, very different approaches to things" to chose from.
"I'm a Marine Corps Vietnam officer and a Christian," said Sykes. He voted for Bush because he supports the Iraq war and is disgusted by John Kerry's antiwar activities after he returned from Vietnam.
Christine Currlin, in her 50s, also was voting for the first time ever because "It's such a close race and I'm anti-Bush and really opposed to the war."
With so much at stake, watch for candidates, running mates, spouses and other family to be pouring into Florida in the five days remaining before Election Day.
How close is this race here anyhow? Sixty-two-year-old Michael Priory tells me that on the lawn of one house on his tidy block, "The wife has the Bush sign. The husband has a Kerry sign."
And if Priory were called in to break the tie?
It would be Bush in 2004.