By: JAKE COYLE
Days before the January 2001 inauguration of President Bush, the Onion ran a story headlined: “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over.'”
Writers at the satirical paper still speak reverentially of the story, in which Bush promises to take the country into a deep recession, worsen the environment and “end the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton.”
“Wow, was that prescient,” marvels Joe Garden, the Onion’s features editor.
Whether or not you share that political viewpoint, the Bush era will end soon and the political comedy epicenter will shift to Barack Obama or John McCain.
At the Onion ? “America’s finest news source,” as it calls itself ? this change in the Oval Office is a welcome opportunity for new material after eight years of Bush and an interminable presidential campaign.
“Everyone started being like, ‘Nothing is funny in politics. We’re done talking about it,'” says Assistant Editor Megan Ganz.
Regardless of who’s elected Tuesday, it’s clear satire has won in 2008. “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” have all been at the top of their game, with record ratings to show for it.
But the Onion is a slower moving, more broadly social animal of satire. It is, as Editor Joe Randazzo calls it, “the satirical newspaper of record.”