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Opinion: For Leno & Letterman, a fertile field awaits

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What factor is most likely to shake up the presidential race? How about the expected return on Jan. 2 of several late-night talk-show hosts, including Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman.

Fresh versions of their shows have been one of the victims of the strike by the Writers Guild of America. So for several weeks, presidential candidates who say something silly or are the subject of embarrassing revelations may have been hurt -- but they haven’t become a national punchline.

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With the various talk-show hosts pursuing ways to return to the air even as the strike continues, that should change.

Who has lucked out the most from the work stoppage?

Almost certainly Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has had some of its toughest moments since the new jokes stopped flowing. It’s safe to bet that Leno, Letterman, et al. would have reveled in her difficulties, as well as the aside from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, that he opposed the Iraq war ‘from the beginning.’

Rudy Giuliani no doubt was thanking his lucky stars that the writers were on a picket line when a new light was cast upon his tumultuous personal life during his stint as mayor of New York.

Mike Huckabee has probably also benefited. Both new comments made by the former Arkansas governor -- ‘Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’ -- and an old ad that included his name -- ‘A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband’ -- would seem tailor-made for late-night cracks.

-- Joe Mathews


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