Saturday Night Live relentlessly chides Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), but this weekend, the show allowed Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), her principal competition for the Democratic presidential nomination, to join in the mockery.
The NBC comedy institution portrayed Mrs. Clinton as a bride at a Halloween party with Bill Clinton and the other Democratic candidates. All the candidates were lampooned except Barack Obama, much to the dismay of his rivals' campaigns.
It was reported earlier in the week that the show was scrambling to find someone to play Barack Obama - only to settle for a cameo by Barack Obama himself.
The Obama campaign said it was allowed to tweak the script, but the extent to which that happened was not clear. A spokesman for the show said Obama "had as much input as any guest or host would have, but it was written by us, not them."
The spokesman said that Barack Obama also declined to do a prepared sketch about the fact that he and Vice President Dick Cheney are cousins.
The show's host was Brian Williams, anchor of the NBC Nightly News, and there was discussion prior to the show about whether that would compromise his integrity.
But the post-show coverage has centered on Barack Obama, whose SNL appearance was a total surprise and drew enormous applause from the studio audience.
In the opening skit, Bill and Hillary Clinton, played by Darrell Hammond and Amy Poehler, were holding a Halloween party (and bickering constantly).
As Mr. Clinton, Hammond was dressed up as Mystery, from the VH1 reality TV show "The Pickup Artist." As Mrs. Clinton, Amy Poehler wore a white bridal gown, but other characters called it a witch's outfit.
"Nice to see you, Barack," Sen. Clinton said. "So, you dressed as yourself?"
"You know, Hillary, I have nothing to hide," Obama replied. "I enjoy being myself. I'm not going to change who I am just because it's Halloween."
She replied through clenched teeth, "That's, that's great."
With a smile, Obama told her, "And may I say, you make a lovely bride."
Whereupon Hammond, as Bill Clinton, quipped, "She's a witch."
Barack Obama then introduced the show, with the trademark "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" He did not appear again.