Time once again for another installment of our (unfortunately) long-running series, "Is it 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' or local TV news?"
We turn our attention to this morning's broadcast of Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento," where former President Jimmy Carter, who was doing a series of satellite interviews on local morning shows to promote the audio version of a new book, squared off with the wacky "GDS" crew.
It wasn't pretty.
Then again, it never is when "GDS" tries to get serious and important. Let's just say that the trio at the anchor desk - Marianne McClary, Cody Stark and Mark S. Allen - won't make anyone forget Christiane Amanpour, Walter Cronkite and Jim Lehrer.
The questions, such as they were, defined trite. The gushing and fawning defined minor-league broadcast. For once, we longed for Nick Toma to add a little gravitas - and you know you're in trouble when you wish that.
Check out the interview here.
But for those who just can't stomach it, here are the lowlights:
* In introducing Carter, McClary set the tone: "You have now surpassed our other most famous guest, the Duchess of York. You are at the top of the list!"
Geez, are you sure, Marianne? Fergie is a Weight Watchers spokesperson, after all; what's Carter done other than broker peace in the Middle East and win a Nobel Peace Prize?
* Then, McClary's first question was not even a question. She just mentioned that he has something out on audio. (Still, that seemed good enough for Carter, who was in full book-hawking mode.)
* Stark, who usually plays the wacky weatherman, then asked this rambling question: "I've been to Plains, Ga. And when they have small towns in the dictionary, they should have Plains pictured. Do you ever look back on your life and think, 'How did a kid from this tiny little town become, you know, a leader of the free world and all the things you've managed to do?'" (Carter ignored the question completely and talked about religion in Plains.)
* Allen has a reputation for making interviews all about Mark. He didn't change that just because he had a chance to talk to a president. Allen's question: "I ask this only because I have a similar brother. What's it like to grow up in a small town like this with a brother like Billy?" (For the uninitiated, Allen has a tres-lame regular bit on "GDS" in which he dresses up like a hick with false buckteeth and pretends to be Mark's "brother" from Texas.)
Carter was gracious in answering Allen about his late eccentric brother, Billy.
* Later, McClary, grasping for something to say, asked (we kid you not): "I just learned you were the first president born in a hospital. Is that true?"
Geez again. You've got one of the most influential Americans on your show and you ask that? Journalism 101 students could do better.
Coda on Cody: Two hours after interviewing Carter, Stark was out in Roseville dressed as a banana slug for a live remote. Ah, must have felt good for him to be back on terra firma.