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Image4527072gJohn McCain to David Letterman this evening: “I screwed up.”

After weeks of drubbing for cancelling out on the late-night host, only to be caught appearing on “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” McCain also deadpanned, “I haven’t had so much fun since my last interrogation.”

Invoking a central campaign theme, he told Letterman, “Now’s not the time to be raising anyone’s taxes, except yours.”

Letterman was dubious of Palin’s qualifications, as McCain defended her, although at one point during questioning he said, “Have we pretty well exhausted this topic?”

Letterman replied, “No, no.  I’m just getting started!”

Letterman also grilled McCain on Palin’s contention that Obama was “palling around with terrorists,” to which the Republican nominee said, “There’s millions of word said in the campaign.  Come on!”

McCain also disputed Letterman’s question that his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy was akin to Barack Obama’s association with William Ayers.

McCain confirmed that Palin would be making an appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” but he did not say when.

The transcript is below.

McCain was so concerned that he wouldn’t make the show that he hired a helicopter to get him to Manhattan due to flight delays between Philadelphia and New York, per the Politico.

McCain will actually see Obama this evening at the Al Smith dinner, a longtime tradition among presidential candidates.

But the campaigns’ real competition will come in late night, with McCain’s Letterman appearance and vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden slated to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

There’s been speculation that Obama would make an appearance via satellite on Leno, in between the Smith dinner and plans to attend a fund-raiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Bruce Springsteen and Bill Joel.

Biden, meanwhile, tapes Leno this evening and was to make an appearance on “The Ellen Show.” He’s scheduled to attend a fund-raiser and dinner at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood with Maroon 5 the entertainment.