Dana Edelason  /  AP file
Al Sharpton, left, honed his joke-telling skill by guest-hosting "Saturday Night Live." Here, he joins Tracy Morgan in a skit on the show.
By MSNBC contributor
updated 12/22/2003 4:22:37 PM ET 2003-12-22T21:22:37

The Rev. Al Sharpton topped off the political year in the only appropriate way — by hosting "Saturday Night Live." Jokes, gags, and funny skits — the perfect ending to a very funny year on the presidential campaign trail. And the funniest jokes were told by the candidates themselves.

Of course, no presidential candidate can match Sharpton’s comedic presence. The poor rivals: Their timing was off, their delivery was wooden, and most were in desperate need of a rim shot. But on paper, at least, they were laugh riots. A tribute to nimble minds or good joke writers. Here are the Top 10:

10 — Dick Gephardt: "You've got to get the help of our friends. He keeps saying we've got 30 countries helping us. Yes, Togo sent one soldier."

9 — Carol Moseley Braun: "I am the clearest alternative to George Bush. I don't look like him. I don't talk like him. I don't think like him. And I don't act like him."

8 — Wesley Clark: "The last election I was in was for home-room student council representative. We put our heads down on our desks, the teacher asked us to raise our hand. And I voted for my best friend. And after it was over, I said, ‘Well, you voted for me, right?’ He said, ‘No, I didn't.’ He won by one vote."

7 — John Edwards: "You all know that drug companies say to us, they're spending all their money on research and development. Aha, turn your television on. And of course, you've all seen the ads, you know. You buy their medicine and you take their medicine, that night you and your spouse will be skipping through the fields holding hands."

6 — Joe Lieberman: "I know that we, and I particularly, can beat George W. Bush next year. You know why? Because Al Gore and I already did it, didn't we?"

5 — Carol Moseley Braun: "I'm reminded of the true story of my parent's worst argument. The toilet broke and there was water going everywhere. My mother sent my father to the hardware store. He came back with a new lawnmower. That's really what's happened to us in this country. We were chasing bin Laden and they gave it up."

4 — Howard Dean (courtesy James Carville): "If the percent of minorities that's in your state has anything to do with how you can connect with African-American voters, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King."

3 — John Kerry: "There are two ways for you to have lower prescription drug costs. One is you could hire Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper. Or you can elect me president of the United States."

2 — President Bush: "It's great to be in the Inland Empire. With the 38th governor of the great state of California. We did have a good visit, and during that visit I was able to reflect upon how much we have in common. We both married well. Some accuse us both of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps. Well, two out of three isn't bad."

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1 — And the best joke of all? It’s a tie — both told, naturally, by Al Sharpton:

"If I were president, I would go in and say, ‘We were wrong.’ Tony Blair and George Bush had a meeting, acted as though it was a world summit. Two guys in a phone booth acted like the whole world had met."

... and ...

"Mr. Bush will not be, in a Sharpton administration, the head of missing persons. He can't find bin Laden. We don't know if Hussein is living or dead, and we can't find the weapons of mass destruction."

Howard Mortman is a producer for "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

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