Late Night: Even Rick Perry is laughing at Rick Perry


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It was the brain fart heard ‘round the world.

In Wednesday night’s Republican debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, his campaign in jeopardy after a string of lackluster debate performances, committed a gaffe of epic proportions.

Asked by debate moderator John Harwood which three federal agencies he’d eliminate if he were president, Perry said he’d do away with the Departments of Education and Commerce, but he drew a blank on the third. After unsuccessfully grasping for an answer for almost a full minute, he eventually admitted he couldn’t remember. ‘Oops!’ he said, in something of an understatement.


Given just how excruciating Perry’s blunder was, Thursday’s late-night pile-on was perhaps inevitable.

The field day began on ‘The Daily Show,’ where Jon Stewart devoted two segments to Perry’s cringe-worthy performance. His overarching conclusion: With the blunder, Perry had effectively sealed Mitt Romney’s fate as the Republican nominee. ‘You didn’t want Romney? Too bad. You are now stuck,’ he said.

Stewart spent some time poking fun of the other candidates. He criticized Herman Cain for derisively referring to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as ‘Princess Nancy,’ and he described Newt Gingrich as the ‘Pillsbury Doughboy’s angrier, know-it-all brother.’

Then Stewart launched into a gleeful, slightly meta riff on Perry’s giant flub. ‘Many Republican faithful thought Perry would be the answer to their prayer. Turns out, he was the answer to ours,’ he said. ‘A comedian can spend his whole life digging through the comedy mines for soundbites he can use to sustain his family. Sometimes a fella can lose hope. And then, Rick Perry gives you 53 seconds that can change a man’s life.’

Stewart struggled to isolate his favorite moment. Though he liked the part where ‘Perry looks like he’s going to take a stroke to get out of the whole thing,’ and also appreciated when Ron Paul tried to throw Perry a lifeline, but eventually decided that Perry’s nonchalant ‘Oops!’ was, for him, the real highlight.

‘That is not the four-letter word I would have gone with. Like it’s a juicebox,’ Stewart said. ‘Oh, my God, my chance to be president of the United States. Oops!’


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No doubt aware that he’d be the butt of many a joke on Thursday night, Perry attempted to beat everyone else to the punch(line). He stopped by ‘The Late Show’ to deliver the night’s top 10 list, ‘Top 10 Rick Perry Excuses.’ Perry managed to get a few laughs. For example: Reason No. 6 -- ‘You try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude.’ But the effort may not have been enough to salvage his image.

Other noteworthy Perry ridicule from Thursday night: ‘Conan’ broadcast a spoof campaign ad in which the absent-minded governor forgot his wife’s name, while Perry ‘fan’ Stephen Colbert insisted that the ‘Oops!’ moment made Perry look human. ‘That’s something Mitt Romney would die for. I’m sorry, power down and restart for.’

Hey, at least Perry had a little company.


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-- Meredith Blake