This Sept. 15, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jason Sudeikis portraying Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during a skit from the late night comedy series "Saturday Night Live," in New York.National Journal

NO SNL FOR ROMNEY

Little noticed on the tape of Mitt Romney's controversial fundraiser remarks was his brief turn as a TV critic, when he talked about his decision to turn down Saturday Night Live while risking liberal ire on The View. And there was his failure to stay out of the cross fire between late-night rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno. "Letterman hates me because I've been on Leno more," Romney said. "They're very jealous of one another, as you know."

Romney also disclosed that he had turned down an invitation to appear on SNL, where John McCain and Sarah Palin showed up four years ago. He demurred, he said, because the show "has the potential of looking slapstick and not presidential." But Romney was quick to assure donors that he can be a risk taker. "I've been on The View twice," he boasted, calling the show "high risk because, of the five women on it, only one is conservative." Who knew all this would flow from Richard M. Nixon's groundbreaking utterance of "Sock it to me" on Laugh-In on Sept. 16, 1968?

George E. Condon Jr.

MEL BROOKS MEETS THE FISCAL CLIFF

The Wise Men are responding to their country's call. As America slides toward another fiscal crisis, a corps of distinguished elders is pressing Congress to reach a grand bargain that will raise revenue, reform the tax code, and come to grips with federal health and retirement costs. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin have joined retired Sens. Sam Nunn, Warren Rudman, Evan Bayh, and the leaders of two bipartisan commissions — Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, and Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin — as headliners.

"American politics has always been a shrill and ugly business, going back to the Founding Fathers," said Gates at a Sept. 17 gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But "as a result of several polarizing trends, we have now lost the ability to execute even the most basic functions." He likened the coming sequestration to the scene in Blazing Saddles, where the sheriff holds a gun to his own head and warns the crowd not to make him shoot. "This is no way to run a government," he said.

John Aloysius Farrell

MURMURS

Hold the Mayo The decision by McDonald's to start listing the calorie content of menu items might be coming at the right time. If obesity trends continue on their current path through 2030, more than 44 percent of Americans could be fat in all 50 states, according to the public-health group Trust for America's Health. Mississippi would be the nation's fattest state, with 66.7 percent of its population obese, while Colorado would maintain its ranking as the least obese state at 44.8 percent. The price tag for the extra weight Americans will gain over the next 18 years if habits don't change? Trust for America's Health estimates obesity-related health issues will cost an additional $70 billion.

Jay and Kay Episodes of bipartisan camaraderie can still break out on Capitol Hill, even in an election year. Just this week, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., gushed on for several minutes about the panel's ranking member, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who is retiring at the end of the year. "Kay Bailey Hutchison, let me just tell you, I'm very sad that you're leaving," Rockefeller said at the panel's last hearing of the year. He said that she's the only ranking member to receive flowers from him on Mother's Day. "I know we will miss you very, very much," he told her. A slightly embarrassed Hutchison returned the warm words, telling Rockefeller, "I can't think of a better partner to have than you."

NO SNL FOR ROMNEY

Little noticed on the tape of Mitt Romney's controversial fundraiser remarks was his brief turn as a TV critic, when he talked about his decision to turn down Saturday Night Live while risking liberal ire on The View. And there was his failure to stay out of the cross fire between late-night rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno. "Letterman hates me because I've been on Leno more," Romney said. "They're very jealous of one another, as you know."

Romney also disclosed that he had turned down an invitation to appear on SNL, where John McCain and Sarah Palin showed up four years ago. He demurred, he said, because the show "has the potential of looking slapstick and not presidential." But Romney was quick to assure donors that he can be a risk taker. "I've been on The View twice," he boasted, calling the show "high risk because, of the five women on it, only one is conservative." Who knew all this would flow from Richard M. Nixon's groundbreaking utterance of "Sock it to me" on Laugh-In on Sept. 16, 1968?

George E. Condon Jr.

MEL BROOKS MEETS THE FISCAL CLIFF

The Wise Men are responding to their country's call. As America slides toward another fiscal crisis, a corps of distinguished elders is pressing Congress to reach a grand bargain that will raise revenue, reform the tax code, and come to grips with federal health and retirement costs. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin have joined retired Sens. Sam Nunn, Warren Rudman, Evan Bayh, and the leaders of two bipartisan commissions — Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, and Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin — as headliners.

"American politics has always been a shrill and ugly business, going back to the Founding Fathers," said Gates at a Sept. 17 gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But "as a result of several polarizing trends, we have now lost the ability to execute even the most basic functions." He likened the coming sequestration to the scene in Blazing Saddles, where the sheriff holds a gun to his own head and warns the crowd not to make him shoot. "This is no way to run a government," he said.

John Aloysius Farrell

MURMURS

Hold the Mayo The decision by McDonald's to start listing the calorie content of menu items might be coming at the right time. If obesity trends continue on their current path through 2030, more than 44 percent of Americans could be fat in all 50 states, according to the public-health group Trust for America's Health. Mississippi would be the nation's fattest state, with 66.7 percent of its population obese, while Colorado would maintain its ranking as the least obese state at 44.8 percent. The price tag for the extra weight Americans will gain over the next 18 years if habits don't change? Trust for America's Health estimates obesity-related health issues will cost an additional $70 billion.

Jay and Kay Episodes of bipartisan camaraderie can still break out on Capitol Hill, even in an election year. Just this week, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., gushed on for several minutes about the panel's ranking member, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who is retiring at the end of the year. "Kay Bailey Hutchison, let me just tell you, I'm very sad that you're leaving," Rockefeller said at the panel's last hearing of the year. He said that she's the only ranking member to receive flowers from him on Mother's Day. "I know we will miss you very, very much," he told her. A slightly embarrassed Hutchison returned the warm words, telling Rockefeller, "I can't think of a better partner to have than you."

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