Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, the longtime latenight talk show host kneecapped GOP Presidential Candidate John McCain over his relationship to Watergate planner G. Gordon Liddy.
"You will also admit that we cannot really control who we interact with in our lives, a hundred percent," said Letterman, referencing McCain's ubiquitous attack against Barack Obama that ties him to a 60's political radical. "I mean, you have ... You have ..."
McCain interrupted. "Depends on how long we interact with them and how we interact with them."
Letterman tried to cut in several times, but he was cut off by the candidate.
"The point is ... The point, the point of this whole campaign, the economy, the economy ..." trailed McCain, counting with his left hand, but ceeding to Letterman on his third 'economy.'
"Did you not have a relationship with Gordon Liddy?" asked the host.
"Um, I've met him, uh, you know, I mean, um ..." began McCain.
"Didn't you attend a fundraiser at his house?" asked Letterman.
"That's," sputtered McCain, looking trapped. "That's, what ... Is ..."
"I object, your honor!" shouted Paul Shaffer, Letterman's band leader, only after several seconds of McCain looking like a deer in a car's headlights.
The host laughed as he stared straight into the CBS cameras, broadcasting live. Smiling, Letterman concluded: "We'll be right back."
Watch Letterman confront McCain on his relationship with Gordon Liddy, from CBS' Late Show with David Letterman broadcast Thursday, Oct. 16, 208:
McCain apologizes to Letterman: 'I screwed up!'
NEW YORK (AFP) - John McCain confronted his chief tormentor on comedy television Thursday, demonstrating he can still take a joke, despite the rigors of the White House race.
McCain's appearance on the Late Show in New York ended a feud with host David Letterman dating back to the Republican candidate's failure to appear in the CBS television studio last month.
Asked by Letterman why he hadn't come, McCain dead-panned: "Can I give you an answer? I screwed up."
The sight of McCain grovelling before the comedian tickled the audience at the taping of the show, due to be shown later Thursday.
"I have a son in the Marine Corps and I asked him to Fedex his helmet," McCain quipped as he came on stage.
There was also laughter when McCain, a former Vietnam War POW, complained about Letterman's grilling. "I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation," he said.
The light-hearted session was in contrast to a tense final debate against Democrat rival Barack Obama late Wednesday, where many analysts said McCain appeared angry and irritated.
On a more serious note, McCain told Letterman that he did not approve of increasingly negative, sometimes violent anti-Obama remarks shouted out by "fringe" elements at his rallies.
"I admire and respect Senator Obama. He's inspired America," McCain said.
However, he defended and repeated a claim by his running mate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, that Obama had "palled around with terrorists."
"He did," McCain said.
The allegation refers to a modest professional association in recent times between Obama and Bill Ayers, a professor who was a bomb-throwing extreme leftist in the 1960s, when Obama was still a child.
McCain brushed off Letterman's question as to why Palin refers to terrorists in the plural, simply laughing: "There's millions of words said in a campaign."
The Republican also stood firm on his support for Palin.
Her image as a moose-hunting Alaskan right winger and her evidently limited knowledge of foreign affairs has been mercilessly lampooned by comedians.
But McCain said "she's a reformer, she's the most popular governor in the United States."
He indicated she would make a long awaited appearance on the television show most famous for making fun of her -- Saturday Night Live. "I think she is" to appear, he said.
Watch McCain apologize to David Letterman, broadcast by MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008:
Watch Letterman react to McCain skipping his show, broadcast by CBS on Sept. 24, 2008: