‘Saturday Night Live’ Cold Open Skewers Republicans’ Midterm Candidates Herschel Walker, Dr. Oz And Kari Lake In ‘PBS NewsHour’ Spoof

Saturday Night Live took on the Republicans’ lineup of high-profile midterm candidates Herschel Walker, Dr. Oz and Kari Lake, skewering them for their lack of experience and extremist ideas even as they have a good shot at winning their races, driven by their celebrity status.

The cold open was a satire on PBS NewsHour, with Heidi Gardner as Judy Woodruff interviewing all three candidates. Throughout, Walker, the GOP candidate for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat, keeps calling her “Judas,” while she calmly poses questions about the campaign.

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At one point, Woodruff asks, “A second woman has now claimed you paid for an abortion, and your ex-wife has once said you once held a gun to her head. Why are millions of Georgia residents still voting for you?”

“Gas,” Walker, played by Kenan Thompson, responds.

“Yeah, Ok. Gas prices are high, but is there more to it than that?”

“Well, of course there is,” Walker answers. “Look, I’m fine. If you want to get on the Jumbotron at the game. You don’t throw on a cardigan and start making sense. You take your shirt off and you shake your belly around. That’s why I’m doing.”

The opener also marked the return of Cecily Strong, who played Lake, the GOP candidate who is leading in the race for Arizona governor. Strong had been off working on another project.

Woodruff notes that Lake, a Trump-supported 2020 election denier, has pulled ahead of her opponent Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state.

“Now you were a local news anchor and a Democrat for many years. And yet you’re gaining voters. Why?” Woodruff asks the image-obsessed Lake.

“Because I’m normal Judy. I’m just a hometown gal, constantly in soft focus and lit like a 90s Cinemax softcore. Frankly, I’ve just clicked with many of the wonderful terrified elderly people here in Arizona, theFlorida of the west. So i”m a fighter. In my life, I’ve sent back over 2,000 salads, and I’m not afraid to do the same thing with democracy.”

Woodruff then reminds her that one of her main issues is her denial of the 2020 election.

An irritated Lake responds, “Can you media types just get over the one thing I have made the center of my campaign for months and months. Arizonans want to talk about the issues that affect them — like crime in New York, or crime in Detroit, and the most pressing issue, drag queen storytime — men dressing as loud sassy women introducing children to the joys of reading. Not on my watch.”

For the uninitiated, the latter actually was a talking point for Lake’s campaign — and she’s been irked at being called a hypocrite, as past photos have surfaced of her friendship with a well known Phoenix drag queen.

Oz, meanwhile, is now even in the polls with John Fetterman, the Democratic lieutenant governor, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered in May. Woodruff tells Oz that the fact that is now in such a close race is “surprising many in the media.”

“I sure have,” says Oz, played by Mikey Day. “Let’s remember. I was a longshot, Judy. But I always told myself, you could win this election if you are honest, if you are fair, and if your opponent has a debilitating medical emergency. So we’re very lucky.”

The skit was a pretty standard format for an SNL opener, which often spoof news shows. It also featured some genuinely funny lines, although given the craziness of the respective campaigns, probably could have gone even further. Some of Walker’s actual quotes are so absurd that they seem to have scripted by a satirist.

In other parts of the opener, Oz pitches miracle cures and Walker gins up another inflated, cable news-driven controversy about schools and gender teaching. “We got babies at school identifying as Pokemon, okay. My son is a boy, last time I checked by text.”

The skit also touches on what’s at stake during the midterms, as voters may be poised to elect candidates who have Trump’s endorsement and who haven’t fully distanced themselves from his false election claims — or in Lake’s case actually embrace them. It’s generated a lot of worry and warning among Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans that the upcoming vote will be a prelude to attacks on the democratic process in 2024.

“Miss Lake, you have proposed some big changes to local voting laws,” Woodruff says. “If you become governor, do you promise to make sure everyone’s vote counts?”

Lake answers, “Judy, if the people of Arizona elect me, I will make sure they will never have to vote ever again.”

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