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Each cycle, this tradition dedicated to the former New York governor and 1928 Democratic nominee is always a bit jarring — and perhaps more so this year — because they are suddenly yukking it up with each other. As hard as the candidates are attacking, they each got the opportunity to joke about it, sometimes at their rival’s expense, sometimes at their own. It begs the question of how seriously you can take their campaign attacks when they are chummy at a roast If Obama were really unpatriotic, palling around with terrorists, would McCain offer him the kind of praise that he does below? And as much as Obama characterizes McCain as out of touch, he practically gives him his endorsement at the end of his remarks.

It is all a bit surreal, and you almost expect Don Rickles to show. One of Obama’s best lines: “I got my middle name obviously from somebody who didn’t think I would run for President.” One of McCain’s: He fired his campaign staff and “all of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe The Plumber.”