Study sees TV punchline gap

John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton continue to be the butts of choice for latenight TV jokes, according to a new study.

Barack Obama has drawn a mere 169 punchlines from Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien since the beginning of this year, compared to McCain’s 322 and Clinton’s 382, effectively creating a punchline gap, the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason U. has found.

Data shows that Obama’s the least popular among the broadcast comedians, but he leads on cable — mainly Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” — with 207 jokes vs. 201 for McCain and 179 for Clinton, according to the study.

The George Mason researchers speculate that Obama’s lead on cable is attributable to the fact that those two shows closely follow the day’s headlines.

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