Tuesday, October 7, 2008


One of the funniest and most politically searing comedy sketches in years has vanished from the Web site of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Visitor comments asking about its disappearance are also being scrubbed from the Web site. The sketch -- a harsh indictment of the housing meltdown that led to last week's bailout bill -- was clearly too much truth for someone to handle.

The seven-minute sketch featured a mock news conference of Democratic Congressional leaders on the bailout bill, during which Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank inadvertently acknowledge that it was Congress that blocked reform and effective oversight of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Then SNL comic Kristen Wiig, playing Speaker Pelosi, introduces a parade of "victims" of the housing crisis. These "real Americans" include two jobless deadbeats who bought houses with no down-payment and a preppy couple who can't flip the dozen time-share condos they bought as a speculative investment.

They were followed by actors portraying the real-life couple of Herbert and Marion Sandler. They explained how they built a mortgage company that specialized in subprime mortgages, which they sold to Wachovia Bank for $24.2 billion in 2006 -- one of the worst acquisitions by any company ever. It helped precipitate the collapse of Wachovia last week.

The Sandlers were hustled off the stage by "Speaker Pelosi" after they said they couldn't understand why they were invited to a news conference of "victims" since they had done so well out of the housing crisis.

They were followed by financier George Soros, identified as "Owner, Democratic Party." The actor portraying Mr. Soros informs the group that the $700 billion bailout package "basically belongs to me" and that he has decided to short the U.S. dollar. That will trigger a devaluation "either Tuesday or Wednesday. I haven't decided which yet. It will depend on how I feel."

The brutally wicked sketch must have caused tremors in left-wing circles. The Sandlers and Mr. Soros have all been prime financial backers of independent political groups that have secured huge influence in the Democratic Party and helped fuel the rise of Barack Obama.

The Sandlers, for example, were major donors to the left-wing radio network Air America as well as the liberal housing lobby ACORN, a major player in pressuring banks into making more subprime mortgages. They also donated $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, the liberal group that insulted General David Petraeus as "General Betray Us" last year. Mr. Soros contributed a like amount. In turn, Eli Pariser, the head of MoveOn.org, was quite candid after the 2004 election about the influence this left-wing cabal hoped to exercise: "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we are going to take it back."

No doubt the Sandlers and Mr. Soros were displeased with the Saturday Night Live sketch. Herbert Sandler told the Associated Press that its portrayal of him as a predatory lender was "crap." "We are being unfairly tarred. People have been telling us to speak out for some time, but we didn't think it was appropriate. That was clearly a mistake."

I suspect that some of the people the Sandlers have spoken to -- or complained to -- are the corporate overseers of NBC. That may explain why the bailout sketch has been airbrushed from the network's Web site and will likely never be shown again.

That's a shame, because rarely has political satire been more timely, pointed and, in many respects, so truthful.




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