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Nader Lays Egg On Leno

If television chops are a prerequisite for being president, then Ralph Nader, who bombed on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno Tuesday night, is in for some soul-searching worthy of the Bush campaign.

The Green Party presidential candidate produced a rubber chicken from behind a couch to make his point that Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore are ducking debates with him.

When the gag drew tepid laughter, Leno said “This comedy is not easy, is it Ralph?”

Other jokes that Nader likes to break out among the Green Party faithful drew drew similarly weak laughter among Leno’s audience.

“Bush is really a corporation running for president, disguised as a person,” Nader said, to scattered laughs.

And the Hollywood audience seemed baffled when Nader told Leno what he does for fun: “strawberries.”

“It's vitamin C,” he explained.

When Leno pressed him, Nader allowed that he likes to “go to a ballgame.”

But lines reminding the crowd of his longtime role as an outsider and watchdog drew hearty applause.

“Unlike Bush or Gore, I am not for sale,” he said.

Nader's chicken stunt backfired even further when fellow guest, comedian D.L. Hughley, began cracking jokes at Nader's expense.

“I was actually thinking about a two-piece and a biscuit,” he said, looking at the limp chicken.

And when Nader said he would continue to fly coach class, Hughley said he wasn't keen on the president sitting next to him.

“Hey, hand me the peanuts, prez,” Hughley mockingly asked. “That's scary.”

When Nader told Hughley 10,500 people had attended his rally in Portland, Ore., recently, Hughley fired back: “In Portland, Oregon, they don't have nothing else to do.”

The audience roared, and Nader laughed too.

Nader did have one decent line. Asked by Leno whether he would vote for Gore or Bush if forced to make a choice, Nader said: “I would invoke the cruel and unusual punishment provision of the U.S. Constitution and punt!”

CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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