Messrs. Stewart and Colbert are on vacation all week - nice timing! - but Letterman is back, and, last night, he didn't shy away from the sticky issue that is media martyr Sarah Palin. Strangely, he didn't slam her either.

I dunno: Maybe, after milking a series of stupid, ill-advised, sexist jokes into a five-alarm, national fucking freakout complete with accusations of Letterman's perversion and acceptance of "rape", and then following that up with a resignation/public statement portraying her as a victim of the media, I expected Sarah Palin to be the recipient of something more... damning.

Is it too soon? I get that Palin's family should be left alone. Jokes that are sexist - or can be claimed as such by the suddenly-woman friendly GOP - are also a no-no. But are all of Palin's outrageous peccadilloes, inconsistencies and complaints off-limits when it comes to jokes from this country's best comedic social critics? (She's not a private citizen...yet.) Due to Stewart and Colbert's absences - SNL is on hiatus all summer - Letterman and his writers were in the unique position to not only go for the comedic jugular... but set a tone outside of the Beltway pundits and bloggers currently circling Palin's wagon. (Note: Keith Olbermann's show doesn't count as a "comedic," because it simply isn't funny.) As it is, the talk show host's series of swipes - a compilation, above left - was comprised of obvious digs like "Obama is currently in Russia, which means Sarah can see him from her house" (a joke also made by Letterman's milquetoast late-night rival, Conan O'Brien, which tells you something) and snipes at her pageant-contestant past and support for the hunting of Alaskan wolves/blowhard CNN anchors.

Oh well. If I want Palin-inspired comedy, I guess I can just go back to the aforementioned pundits and bloggers, namely, this, this, this, this, all of this, and the responses to this.