In an appearance on the CBS Late Show with David Letterman airing Wednesday night, Barack Obama joked about the phrase that has dominated the news all day amid charges of sexism, deceit, feigned outrage and Rovian campaign tactics. “It’s a common expression in at least Illinois,” Obama said in the interview taped Wednesday afternon. “I don’t know about New York City, I don’t know what you guys put lipstick on here.”
Letterman, according to a transcript posted on The Page, takes the pig, as it were, by the horns: “Let me ask you a question here, have you ever actually put lipstick on pig?”
Obama responds: “The answer would be no. But I think it might be fun to try. This is sorta silly season in politics. Not that there’s a non silly season but it gets sillier.”
The presidential candidate goes whole hog explaining the phrase:
“In Illinois, The expression connotes the idea that if you have a bad idea — in this case I was talking about McCain’s economic plans — calling them “change,” calling them something different doesn’t make them better. Hence lipstick on a pig is still a pig. Keep in mind, that technically had I meant it this way she would be the lipstick. The policies of John McCain would be the pig.”
Next, Letterman asks how Obama reacted when McCain named Palin as his running mate.
“We didn’t know much about her. Honestly, she’s a skilled politician. There’s no doubt that she has been a phenomenon. I mean, as somebody who used to be on the cover of Time and Newsweek, (laughter from audience) those were the days, I had a recent offer with Popular Mechanics, centerfold with a wrench. (More laughter) Look, she’s on wild ride and there’s no doubt that she has energized the base.”
The show airs on CBS stations at 10:35 p.m. in the Mountain time zone.