The pundits are talking about how Senator Kerry seemed "presidential" and how President Bush only had thirty minutes of material, as the respective presidential aides are trying to spin that their candidate won the debate. Our thoughts: John Kerry was solid, strong and articulate, even if he's kind of a bore, while President Bush, though very approachable, unraveled towards the end - he was Pausey McPausepants. Not that everyone can be a smooth talker, but it'd be nice to have confidence in the person speaking. President Bush will need to find at least his B-game if he wants to be competitive in the debates. Newscoverage from the NY Times and Washington Post (WP TV critic Tom Shales quotes a politico saying "It was Andy Griffith meets Barney Fife.") ; the NY Post headline is "Toe to Toe," though in the article, they do note Kerry was more prepared and the President was repetitive and seemed unsure. And check this out: The NY Times' Katherine Seelye basically blogs the debate; no mention of any drinking games played. [Per a reader's comment yesterday, we'll work on a drinking game for the next debate, but some early thoughts: 1 drink if Bush smirks; 1 drink if they mention Osama; 1 drink if Kerry's face looks more melty than usual; 1 drink if Bush breaks a rule; 1 drink if Kerry can't really smile because he's using some of Theresa's Botox; 2 drinks if the candidate compliments the opponent; 2 drinks if they invoke September 11; chug if there's substantial domestic policy debate; chug if Bush has a coherent response...and if Bush starts speaking in Spanish, go to your local bar and drink and drink and drink...yeah, you might not chug, but you'll still get ass-drink.]

The other interesting debate of the day: The debate between puppet versions of Bush and Kerry, put on by the folks from Avenue Q. Newsday reports repartee like:

"Military service in Vietnam was every young man's civic duty!" exclaimed Kerry.

"Who gives a doody?" replied Bush.


More political comedy to come on late night television and Saturday Night Live, which has its season premiere tomorrow, with Ben Affleck and Nelly. And what did you think?

Photos of Kerry and Bush (top 2) by Jim Young for Reuters. Photo of Jennifer Barnhart with puppets (bottom) by Bebeto Matthew for the AP.