The 'Saturday Night Live' Bailout Skit Mystery

Why did the comedy sketch vanish shortly after it was aired?

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Not long after the Saturday Night Live cast skewered Democratic lawmakers and "victims" of the housing crisis in a sketch last week, the Web video of the performance vanished from its site.

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Needless to say, a lot of conspiracy theories were spun, real or imagined, especially by Republicans who wondered if the Democratic Congress, or perhaps Soros himself, were pulling NBC's puppet strings. "If you suspect a few high-placed phone calls to NBC led to the bailout skit slipping down the memory hole, you're not alone," wrote right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin.

But anyone who actually saw that video could see this might be a lawsuit waiting to happen: SNL labeled Herb Sandler and his wife, Marion, the real-life former owners of Oakland's Golden West Financial (aka World Savings), as "people who should be shot" and accused them of predatory lending that brought down Wachovia Bank even though no charges have been filed. NBC told me just now they never received any legal threat from the Sandlers. [Though the couple did give an angry interview to the Associated Press about the SNL sketch.]

Instead, the network claimed: "Upon review, we caught certain elements in the sketch that didn't meet our standards. We took it down and made some minor changes and it will be back online soon." Specifically, NBC said it has edited out the on-screen text, "People who should be shot" that appeared beneath the Sandler lookalikes, as well as the "allegations of corruption" made against the couple.

Here's the new, edited version: