US election diary

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The Independent US

*Sarah Palin might be able to see Russia from her house, but her grasp of international affairs doesn't extend to spotting the difference between a Canadian comedian and the President of France.

Palin was telephoned on Saturday by a comedy duo known as The Masked Avengers, who in pidgin English managed to convince her that she was speaking to Nicolas Sarkozy. The hoax caller asked if it might be possible to further the cause of Franco-American relations by organising a joint hunting trip.

"Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we're getting work done," replied Palin. "We can kill two birds with one stone that way." The comedian then joked that they should avoid asking Dick Cheney, who shot and injured a friend while hunting quail, to join in. "I'll be a careful shot!" came Palin's response.

*John McCain proved he can at least deliver a competent punch-line during a guest appearance on the satirical comedy show Saturday Night Live. In a joint skit with Sarah Palin lookalike Tina Fey, McCain presented a fake segment on the shopping channel QVC, selling pork knives (referencing his oft-repeated election promises to cut out "pork") and a set of 12 commemorative plates to mark his town hall debates with Barack Obama (they're blank, since the debates never happened).

McCain claimed it was all he could afford in response to Barack Obama's multimillion-dollar, 30-minute prime-time TV infomercial. "I'm a true maverick," he announced, "a Republican with no money."

* Oprah Winfrey has added to fears about Florida-style ballot chaos marring election day, after telling viewers of her difficulties voting in Chicago. "When I voted yesterday electronically, the first vote that you vote for on the ballot is the presidential candidate. It was my first time doing electronic, so I didn't mark the X strong enough, or I held down too long. Because then when I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote." Winfrey complained she had to queue 72 minutes to vote for Barack Obama.

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