Once upon a time David Letterman ruled the Emmy category for best variety series, conquering it year after year — 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 — like John McCain marching through the red states during primary season.
In 2003, an even more snarky TV host, Jon Stewart ("The Daily Show"), took over and hasn't lost yet, surpassing David Letterman's five-year winning streak by adding a sixth consecutive victory this year.
Obviously, voters appreciate snarkiness in this category, but apparently they want it to have a sharp political edge nowadays. That's what Jon Stewart wields — like a hatchet — and he ends up offing all challenges in that Emmy race, even from his former Comedy Central protege Stephen Colbert. Colbert just beat Stewart for the writing Emmy, but not series. That tells us something. Winning best variety series isn't about having the best wordage or the heightened comedy that "The Colbert Report" has over "The Daily Show."
Now that John McCain will come groveling back this Thursday night, David Letterman may have the perfect episode submission to give to Emmy judges next year — who could end up hailing him again as the category's commander-in-chief.
What should Letterman do with this opportunity? Answer: Whatever Stewart might do. Oh, no!
If Thursday's powwow turns out to be a softball snoozefest, Letterman could give Emmy judges the episode that launched his battle against McCain. It's got lots of sharp edges.
Photo credits: CBS