By Michael Slezak
Updated November 05, 2008 at 12:19 PM EST
Sen. Barack Obama: Jae C. Hong/AP; Sen. John McCain: Carolyn Kaster/AP

We voted. We tuned in. And then we took notes on the best and funniest soundbites from election-night coverage on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, MSBNC, CNN, Comedy Central, and BBC America. Here are the highlights:

Interestingly (amusingly?), the pictures of candidates that ABC used as backdrops for the electoral-vote tallies showed Obama smiling and McCain scowling (even before it was obvious Obama was winning). Plus, plenty of awkward moments from Times Square. Another fun thing on ABC: The team of political analysts (Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, George Will, etc.) were sitting behind laptops that had big labels that read “POLITICAL ANALYSIS.”

7:25 p.m.

Video cuts to Times Square, outside the ABC News studio: Someone holding a banner saying “Cassoulet Forever.” Someone who looks just like Sylar from NBC’s Heroes holding a sign saying “Investigate 9/11.”

7:31 p.m.

Charlie Gibson has a flashback to those vocabulary drills you do before taking the SATs: He says to Obama campaign manager David Plouffe (who’s in Chicago): “You are always the modicum of caution. Modicum is actually not the right word.”

George Stephanopoulos (chiming in): “The espitome [sic] of caution.”

Diane Sawyer (chiming in): “Riddled with caution.”

Charlie: “The epitome of caution. That’s the word I’m looking for. You are cautious when other people are exuberant. I wonder how you feel tonight.”

Plouffe: “Well, Charlie, it’s too early to be exuberant, so I’m cautious.”

9:26 p.m.

Sam Donaldson starts to ramble, music goes up, gradually gets louder, video cuts away to the ABC logo. (Reminiscent of when you get played off at the Oscars.)

10:10 p.m.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile: “Someone’s gonna wake up tomorrow and say, ‘Honey, I shrunk the party.’ And try to figure out what happened to the Republican Party.”

Diane Sawyer: “And [Republican] Governor [Tim] Pawlenty [of Minnesota] said it’s a Dr. Phil moment.”

Brazile: “They need Oprah.”

10:33 p.m.

Oprah (!) being interviewed at the Obama rally in Chicago: “It’s my town. My town’s been vibrating all day…[Gail tells her to tell a story about how she voted.] I was voting across from a drug rehab center. And there were some ladies in there that I was like, ‘Well, how long have you all been detoxed?’ And they said, ‘Just last week,’ and I said, ‘Okay, that’s good. That’s sober enough.’…And I thought, ‘We will even take the drug addicts’ vote.'”

11:00 p.m.

Charlie Gibson: “ABC News is now ready to project that Barack Obama will carry the state of California, carry other states in the West. Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. Barack Obama has been elected president.”

NBC may not have had the most scintillating coverage, but it had some of the coolest visuals, turning Rockefeller Plaza into its chart, with the ice rink as a giant electoral map showing red and blue states, and the wall of the tower at 30 Rock used as a bar graph comparing the red and blue electoral vote totals. Lots of references to the late Tim Russert; everyone at NBC News seemed choked up that the late Washington bureau chief wasn’t there to sketch the election’s progress on his familiar white dry-erase board.

NBC (continued)

8:21 p.m.

Rev. R.L. Patterson, veteran civil rights activist and current minister at the Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.: “I’m excited. Great. The Lord has blessed us. We’ve waited a long time for this. I was there in Selma. I marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. If it had not been for the dogs, the fire hose, everything that was put on us for the cause and all, this day would not have come. I’m satisfied. I’m just satisfied. It has been a blessing to me in my life. This day is victory. Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream, but the dream has come alive.”

8:38 p.m.

Anchor Brian Williams to colleague Chuck Todd, taking over for Russert on the dry-erase board: “Your penmanship has really come along the past couple days.”

9:15 p.m.

Former New York City Mayor and McCain Republican primary opponent Rudy Giuliani, asked if he thinks Obama is up to the challenges of the presidency: “You know what happens tomorrow morning when this is all over, or tomorrow afternoon or tonight? We all become Americans. We support Barack Obama or John McCain 100 percent because if they fail, we fail.”

9:39 p.m.

Ann Curry, on her virtual studio, a Greek rotunda that turned out to be a bare, all-green room that resembled the holodeck on the Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation: “It’s like being in a video game.”

9:46 p.m.

Williams, looking at footage of 30 Rock: “While I won’t divulge the location, I just realized I left the lights on in my office.”

10:06 p.m.

Williams, on what late Arizona Senator and 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater might say about McCain staying in a villa named for Barry Goldwater on the grounds of the Biltmore Hotel outside Phoenix: “Luxury in the pursuit of comfort is no vice.”

11:00 p.m.

Williams, calling the election: “There will be young children in the White House for the first time since the Kennedy generation.”

Katie Couric was full of clichés, but not much else was a-happenin’ on CBS tonight. Here are the highlights:

7:35 p.m.

Katie says that George W. Bush has basically pulled a “Where’s Waldo?” this year. “He’s nowhere to be seen” in Republican Senate campaigns, she says, referencing his low approval rating being more harmful than helpful to Senate-seekers.

8:49 p.m.

Bob Schieffer credits Katie with taking the bloom off the Palin rose with her hard-hitting interview.

9:17 p.m.

Katie evokes Ray Charles by giving McCain the win in Georgia with “If John McCain has Georgia on his mind, apparently Georgians have John McCain on their mind.”

9:40 p.m.

Cut to McCain headquarters in Arizona where Hank Williams Jr. is performing, but Katie says she doesn’t know who’s playing. When told it’s Hank Williams Jr., she says she should have recognized him. Clearly, “Are You Ready for Some Football?” has never been asked of Katie.

10:30 p.m.

Katie (forecasting a win for Obama) announces that the fat lady isn’t singing but “we can hear her clearing her throat.”

10:56 p.m.

Local CBS affiliate cuts to an Obama gathering in Harlem and an interview with attendee Jeremy Piven (the midtown Obama party would’ve been closer to the theater district where he’s appearing in Speed the Plow).

A lot of amusing banter about the “cool” on-air technology.

7:57 p.m.

Anchor Brit Hume comments on one of the commentators and the “smart board” that he’s using to show statistics: “Man, I love to see you operate that thing. It is so cool. So cool.”

8:07 p.m.

Exit-poll chick Megyn Kelly talks about her technological board thingy and how it’s just as cool as the other guy’s — because it has videos: “Look what I can do!” [Banters with Hume until he says hers is cool too.] “Now I feel validated.”

8:59 p.m.

Hume: “Leave the anchorman to bat his gums.”

9:02 p.m.

Hume seeming confused by the graphics on Ohio. “It looks too close to call. You see Barack enjoying a lead of a couple hundred thousand votes. But that’s early. Oh no. We’re calling it for Obama. Ohio for Obama. Excuse me. All right. There we go….We did not call Ohio? I apologize folks. I’m told that we are not calling Ohio. That the checkmark was misplaced. Maybe it’s the one that was supposed to go to Wisconsin and it went to Ohio. You know, we got a lot of maps and stuff to fool around with here tonight…every now and then, somebody puts a check in the wrong place and look what happens.”

10:01 p.m.

Karl Rove throwing up Texas longhorns.


10:30 p.m.

Roland Martin: “In the ’60s all I was rebelling against was my bedtime.”

11:00 p.m.

Wolf Blitzer: “CNN can now project that Barack Obama, 47 years old, will become the president-elect of the United States.”

BBC America

6:25 p.m.

It sounds like David Dimbelby introduces Ted Koppel by saying, “Ted Koppel, the distinguished American broadcaster, to give us some insights because we are all British and unstable,” but after repeated playback, it becomes apparent he’s saying, “Ted Koppel is also here because we’re all British at this table.”

7:15 p.m.

Ricky Gervais (in a taped interview, aired): “When I saw Barack Obama for the first time, I though he was just amazing. Just a great speaker. The fact that he could be the first black president is exciting. I don’t think he’s put a foot wrong. Well, except for being intelligent and elitist. I love the fact that one of their things against him was that he’s smart—’We don’t like that, we really don’t need that here.’—and then when Sarah Palin came along. It was just amazing.

8:05 p.m.

Matt Frei: “I was always surprised that McCain put all his eggs into the Pennsylvania basket…”

8:18 p.m.

David Dimbelby [To a Republican strategist] “Strategist is a very curious job. What did you do for the Republican party that’s led them to the pickle they’re in?”

9:48 p.m.

Simon Schama to Dimbelby: “Are you going to call the Presidency, David, isn’t it about time?”
Dimbelby: “No.”
Schama: “Oh God, you’re such a wuss. Such a wuss.”

10:05 p.m.

Eddie Izzard: “BBC is already projecting Obama to win, and that’s fantastic. As I am someone who would have voted for Obama if I could have voted but I can’t…I think for the world, this is like the third millennium begins today. Tonight…I think it will be great for America. It will be great for the world.”

11:10 p.m.

Dimbelby: “And that’s it, 273 electoral votes for Barack Obama. He will be the next president of the United States…the first black man to go to the White House. The 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama.”


10:03 p.m.

Jon Stewart [to Stephen Colbert] “Yes, Stephen, we lit former majority leader Dick Gephardt on fire. And then we blew him up.”
Colbert: “Kudos.”

10:07 p.m.

In a graphic showing that Obama has won the state of New Jersey, an old, 1980s, Oldsmobile pulls up and the photo of McCain’s head is put into its trunk and carried off.

10:40 p.m.

Colbert points a finger in Stewart’s face, yelling “mainstream!” and cracking him up.

10:48 p.m.

Colbert: “If Obama does pull this thing out and becomes the 44th president of the United States, is then racism over?”

Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree: “No.”

11:03 p.m.

The Comedy Central staff starts freaking out because they don’t know what to do anymore now that the election is over.


8:55 p.m.

Chris Matthews, speaking to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay: “It looks like the whole House of Representatives, the Republican caucus, has gone to hell since you left.”

8:59 p.m.

Matthews, commenting on DeLay’s tirade against Nancy Pelosi: “I like the way you hate, sir. The great thing about hating is you can really understand where a guy stands. There’s no b.s. from you, sir.”

9:04 p.m.

“It’s a good time to order the pizza.” — Matthews, guesstimating it’d be at least an hour or two before the race got called.

9:30 p.m.

“It’s not only incompetence. It’s incompetence mixed with contempt.” –Rachel Maddow, discussing McCain’s former advisor Phil Gramm’s comment that America is a nation of whiners

10:05 p.m.

Keith Olbermann: “Whether [Oprah Winfrey] is out in the crowd or not, I think, is up for discussion — but not by us.”

10:59 p.m.

“The reality we grew up with in terms of ethnicity will be different. The world will look at us — thank God — with wonder again. ‘My God, how they do it. How do these Americans do it?'” –Chris Matthews, moments before Obama was announced as the next president

11:00 p.m.

Keith Olbermann: “Barack Obama is projected to be the next president of the United States of America.”

11:09 p.m.

Keith Olbermann: “You’ve seen those videotapes of Walter Cronkite, the night man landed on the moon for the first time, when Neil Armstrong stepped out, and he could just barely get out monosyllables. Politically, that’s what this is.”

11:42 p.m.

“You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” –Barack Obama, thanking daughters Malia and Sasha for their part in his successful campaign

–Reporting by Tom Conroy, Erin Stevenson, Gary Susman, JeanBentley, Abby West, Marc Vera, Mark Luckie, Aubry D’Arminio, MikeBruno, and Michael Slezak