Comedic campaign stop: Presidential candidates hit The Daily Show

As the 2008 U.S. presidential election race gets into gear, Republican and Democratic candidates are queuing up for guest appearances on hit satirical news program The Daily Show.

As the 2008 U.S. presidential election race gets into gear, Republican and Democratic candidatesare queuing up for guest appearances on hit satirical news program The Daily Show.

Democratic contenders Barack Obama andJoseph Biden and Republicans John McCain and Tommy Thompson are set to appear for an interview opposite host Jon Stewart in the next three weeks.

Candidates Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and John Edwards have also been recent guests on the show.

"It's sort of an open invitation for candidates," said Michele Ganeless, executive vice-president and general manager of Comedy Central, the U.S. cable network that produces The Daily Show.

Despite the program's penchant for skewering politicians and deflating pompous pundits, a visit to the popular, award-winning cable show has become increasingly common for political contenders over the years.

For instance, McCain's next appearance will be his 10th, while Edwards announced his presidential candidacy during the previous election campaign on The Daily Show in 2003.

"Jon makes these guys feel comfortable," Ganeless said.

"He provides them with an opportunity to reach an audience they don't always reach, which is young men."

The Daily Show is stepping up its campaign coverage, dubbed Indecision 2008, and will repeat several of the elements that proved successful four years ago, including episodes filmed at both the Republican and Democratic conventions.

The show's equally popular spinoff The Colbert Report, hosted by former Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert, will also take on U.S. election coverage with plans to film segments from the South Carolina primary.

Aside from winning praise from fans for its irreverent jabs at candidates, as well as the political process, theshow's election coverage has proved lucrative for Comedy Central, which ended up producinga DVD set of the 2003-04 presidential election material.

The three-disc set,The Daily Show: Indecision 2004, comprises 10 episodes and a selection of special features, including highlights from both conventions, analysis of the George W. Bush and John Kerry debate and coverage of election night itself.

Filmed in New York, The Daily Show has been honoured with multiple Emmy and Peabody awards.

With files from the Associated Press