Tags: obama | oprah

Barack Obama's Oprah Card

Monday, 03 Dec 2007 09:55 AM

By James Hirsen

Just as the polls show that the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is getting tighter, over the primary hill comes a player in the Obama campaign who just may deliver the Democratic nomination to the Illinois senator.

For the first time in her career, daytime TV icon Oprah Winfrey is endorsing a candidate for the White House.

What’s even more astounding is that Winfrey is touring Iowa with Obama, and she’s luring even bigger crowds than the charismatic candidate and his wife have been drawing.

Hillary is fighting back with an in-house celebrity of her own, former president and first gent wannabe Bill Clinton.

In the Oprah vs. Bill battle, there’s really no contest.

Bill prevaricated in a recent comment about his supposed opposition to the Iraq war, a clear negative for his wife.

Meanwhile Oprah has a huge influence track record with her vast audience of 8.6 million fans.

Her message about Obama is simple and clear: “I know him well enough to believe in his moral authority,” Winfrey told the Hollywood Reporter.

Lady O’s endorsement certainly has the potential to work big-time for Obama. Obscure books turn into massive best sellers with a mere Oprah mention.

And when it comes to endorsements of individuals, let’s just say Oprah was able to take an unknown jury consultant from Texas, transport him to Beverly Hills and make a mega-TV star out of him.

She did just that with a guy named Dr. Phil.

In more presidential primary news, as the Writers Guild of America strike drones on, late-night talk shows are featuring monologues with rerun jokes on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s run for California governor, Scooter Libby’s pardon, and President Bush’s pretzel mishap.

As a result, the current presidential primary candidates have been spared being the target of late-night wisecracks.

One candidate in particular is benefiting from the humor vacuum: Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs keeps tabs on Jay Leno, David Letterman, and fellow jesters via a joke-tracking database called “Punchlines.”

From Jan. 1, 2007 to Oct. 10, 2007, the former first lady was the subject of 186 late-night jokes as reported by the Los Angeles Times. All of the other Democratic candidates combined chalked up a mere 197 quips.

Three non-candidates did better than Hillary with their joke counts: Vice President Dick Cheney (197), Paris Hilton (258) and late-night perennial punching bag George W. Bush (826).

Here’s a sampling of some late-night Hillary horseplay:

Jay Leno’s comment on the Clinton marriage: “Sen. Clinton said that as president she would bring the troops home. The troops? She can't even get Bill to come home.”

David Letterman’s fashion quip: “Hillary is dressing sexier and sexier. Yesterday she was seen shopping at Victoria's Pantsuit.”

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor, and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.

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