Gwen Ifill.....Queen Latifah
Gov. Sarah Palin.....Tina Fey
Sen. Joe Biden.....Jason Sudeikis
[ open on exterior, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri ]
[ dissolve to moderator Gwen Ifill ]
Gwen Ifill: Good evening, I'm Gwen Ifill... and welcome to Washington University in St. Louis Missouri for the first and only 2008 Vice Presidential Debate between the Republican nominee, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, and the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden of Delaware. Let's welcome the candidates.
[ applause as the two candidates emerge from the wings and greet one another at the center of the stage ]
Gov Sarah Palin: Hey, can I call you, "Joe"?
Sen. Joe Biden: Of course.
Gov. Sarah Palin: Okay, 'cause I practiced a couple of zingers where I call you "Joe"!
Sen. Joe Biden: Okay, great!
[ the two candidates take their respective podiums ]
Gwen Ifill: Now, tonight's discussion will cover a wide range of topics including domestic and foreign policy matters. Each candidate will have ninety seconds to respond to a direct question, and then an additional two minutes for rebuttal and follow-up. As moderator, I will not ask any follow-up questions beyond "Do you agree?" or "Your response?", so as not to appear biased for Barack Obama in light of my new book... [ she holds up her book ] "The Breakthrough: Politics of Race in the Age of Obama", coming out on Inauguration day and available for pre-order on Amazon.com. And, finally, we would like to remind our audience that, due to the historically low expectations for Governor Palin, were she simply to do an adequate job tonight, and at no point cry, faint, run out of the building or vomit... you should consider the debate a tie. [ Palin nods in agreement ] All right, let's begin. Senator Biden, how, as Vice President would you work to shrink the gap of polarization that has sprung up in Washington?
Sen. Joe Biden: Well, I would do what I have done my whole career, whether it's been dealing with violence against women or putting 100,000 police officers in the streets. I would reach across the aisle. Like I've done with so many members of the other party. Members like John McCain. Because, look, I LOVE John McCain. He is one of my dearest friends. But, at the same time, he's also dangerously unbalanced. I mean, let's be frank, John McCain -- and again, this is a man I would take a bullet for -- is bad at his job and is mentally unstable. As my mother would say, "God love him, but he's a raging maniac..." and a dear, dear friend.
Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin. How will your administration deal with the current financial crisis?
Gov. Sarah Palin: Well, first of all, let me say how nice it is to meet Joe Biden! And, may I say, up close your hair plugs don't look nearly as bad as everyone says! You know, John McCain and I, we're a couple of mavericks. And, gosh darnit, we're gonna take that maverick energy right to Washington and we're gonna use it to fix this financial crisis and everything else that's plaguin' this great country of ours!
Gwen Ifill: How will you solve the financial crisis by being a maverick?
Gov. Sarah Palin: You know, we're gonna take every aspect of the crisis and look at it and then we're gonna ask ourselves, "What would a maverick do in this situation?" And then, you know, we'll do that! [ she winks coyly ]
Gwen Ifill: Senator Biden, how would your administration address the current financial crisis?
Sen. Joe Biden: Barack Obama and I understand that we need to regulate Wall Street. John McCain voted against Wall Street regulation 41 times. Let me repeat that. 41 times! And, again, this is a man I love. If I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert island with only ONE other person it would be John McCain -- no doubt about it. I mean, you should see the way my face lights up when he walks into a room. But the fact is, John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time, let me say that again: time.
Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin, would you like to respond to Senator Biden's comments about Senator McCain?
Gov. Sarah Palin: No thank you, but I would like to talk about bein' an outsider. You see, while Senator Biden has been in Washington all these years, I've been with regular people. Hockey moms and Joe Six-packs, and I'd also like to give a shout out to the third graders of Gladys Woods Elementary who were so helpful to me in my debate prep. Also, too, you see, I think a bit differently from an insider. I don't think it's patriotic to pay more taxes. I don't think it's patriotic to criticize these wars we got goin' on. I do think it's patriotic to tell the government, "Hey, get outta my way! Stop tryin' to impose on my right to shoot wolves from a helicopter!" But a Washington insider like Joe Biden probably disagrees.
Sen. Joe Biden: You know I get a little tired of being told I'm an insider. I come from Scranton, Pennsylvania! And that's as hard-scrabble a place as you're gonna find. I'll show you around some time and you'll see. It's a hellhole! An absolute jerkwater of a town! You couldn't stand to spend a weekend there. It is just an awful, awful sad place filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition! Nobody, and I mean nobody, but me, has ever come out of that place! It's a genetic cesspool! So don't be telling me that I'm part of the Washington elite, because I come from the absolute WORST place on Earth: Scranton, Pennsylvania! And Wilmington, Delaware is not much better.
Gwen Ifill: Senator Palin, address your position on global warming and whether you think it's man-made or not.
Gov. Sarah Palin: Gwen, we don't know if this climate change hoozie-what's-it is man-made or if it's just a natural part of the "End of Days". But... I'm not gonna talk about that, I would like to talk about taxes, because, with Barack Obama, you're gonna be paying higher taxes. But not with me and my fellow maverick. We are not afraid to get maverick-y in there and ruffle feathers and not got to allow that. And ,also, too, the great Ronald Reagan. [ she nods proudly for the reference ]
Gwen Ifill: The next question is for you, Senator Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?
Sen. Joe Biden: I do. In an Obama-Biden administration, same-sex couples would be guaranteed the same property rights, rights to insurance, and rights of ownership as heterosexual couples. There will be NO distinction. I repeat, NO distinction.
Gwen Ifill: So, to clarify, do you support gay marriage, Senator Biden?
Sen. Joe Biden: Absolutely not! But I do think they should be allowed to visit one another in the hospital. And, in a lot of ways, that's just as good, if not better.
Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin, would you extend same-sex rights to the entire country?
Gov. Sarah Palin: You know, I would be afraid of where that would lead. I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers. But don't think I don't tolerate gay people. Because I do. I tolerate them with all my heart. And I know quite a few, too. Not personally. But I know of them. I've seen "Ellen". Oh! And there was this one girl on my college basketball team. She wasn't officially "a gay", but, you know, we were pretty sure.
Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin, what is your position on Healthcare regulation?
Gov. Sarah Palin: I'm gonna ignore that question and instead talk about Israel. I love Israel so much. Bless its heart. There's a special place for Israel in heaven. And I know some people are going to say that I'm only saying that to pander to Florida voters, but, from a very young age, my two greatest loves were always Jews and Cuban food.
Gwen Ifill: I would now like to give each of you a chance to make a closing statement.
Gov. Sarah Palin: [ holding a flute ] Are we not doing the talent portion? [ she plays the flute anyway, then winks coyly ]
[ Ifill stares at Palin for a moment, then turns to address Biden ]
Gwen Ifill: Senator Biden, your closing statement?
Sen. Joe Biden: My goal tonight was a simple one. To come up here and at no point seem like a condescending, egomaniacal bully. And I'm gonna be honest, I think I nailed it. Sure there were moments when I wanted to say, "Hey, this lady is a dummy!" But I didn't! Because Joe Biden is better than that. I repeat: Joe Biden... [ he acknowledges himself ] is better... than that. [ he points to Palin, who waves ] So to all of the pundits who said I would seem cocky or arrogant... you dopes got schooled, Biden-style!
Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin?
Gov. Sarah Palin: I liked being here tonight, answering these tough questions without the filter of the mainstream gotcha media with their "follow-up questions", "fact-checking", or "incessant need to figure out what your words mean and why ya put them in that order". I'm, uh -- I'm happy to be speaking directly to the American people to let them know if you want an outsider who doesn't like politics as usual or pronouncin' the "g" and the end of the words she's sayin' I think you know who to vote for. Oh, and for those Joe Six-packs out there playing a drinking game at home -- Maverick. [ she mimes popping a beer can pull tab, throws one back, and smiles ]
Gwen Ifill: Well, this concludes tonight's debate. The book drops November 4th, and, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"