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Turning to another GOP hopeful, Mr. Leno spoke of a trick-or-treater he saw wandering aimlessly, alone and confused, on Halloween night. “I said, ‘Who are you supposed to be?’ She said, ‘Michele Bachmann.’ “

Late-night humor isn’t all about politics. There’s been a feeding frenzy over Kim Kardashian’s blink-and-you-missed-it marriage, which this week left in the dust jokes about Lindsay Lohan, Chaz Bono and the McRib sandwich.

Other headlines such as Occupy Wall Street also have been a steady source of humor.

Mr. Letterman said there are so many protesters gathered at the lower Manhattan park that the city plans to move them to “that pothole over on 8th Avenue - the same pothole where Simon & Garfunkel had their reunion concert.”

Among the many jokes about Moammar Gadhafi’s death, Mr. O’Brien cited a newspaper report that said the Libyan dictator spent his last days “hovering between defiance and delusion, surviving on rice and pasta.”

“In other words,” Mr. O’Brien summed up, “Gadhafi spent his last days as a sophomore in college.”

But largely missing from the late-night monologues right now: jokes targeting Mr. Obama, or even Democrats generally.

Things were very different a year ago, when Democrats got what Mr. Obama called “a shellacking” in the election, with Republicans capturing the House of Representatives and scoring gains in the Senate. Democrats got a shellacking in late night, too.

“While you were applauding, three more states turned red,” Mr. Letterman said on his Nov. 2, 2010, Election Day show. Two nights after the Democrats’ crash landing, he joked that “experts are now saying we won’t know what happened to the Democratic Party until we find the black box.”

But that was then.

This week, attention was diverted by Herman Cain as allegations surfaced from female co-workers that he had sexually harassed them in the workplace. This news was a blessing not only for the rest of the Republican pack (and for Mr. Obama on the sidelines), but, of course, for late-night humorists.

“He says he never sexually harassed anyone,” Jimmy Kimmel chimed in on his ABC show. Instead, the former pizza restaurant executive “was just asking them if they wanted extra sausage.”

“So let me sum up the GOP candidates,” said Mr. Leno. “You’ve got Mitt Romney kissing ass, you’ve got Rick Perry getting his ass kicked and Herman Cain grabbing ass.”

You’ve also got Mr. Obama taking welcome cover, however temporary. For the moment, the joke’s not on him.