Last night on 'Tonight': Sarah Palin gets 'Happy' with Vladimir Putin

Published: Thursday, April 3 2014 3:25 p.m. MDT

"The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon dressed up as Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in a skit where he congratulated former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for correctly predicting Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama to discuss the situation in Ukraine," Fallon said while setting up the skit. "Not many people know this, but right after he talked to Obama, Putin made another phone call, this time to someone who actually predicted his invasion of Ukraine back in 2008. This is amazing, but we actually got footage of that conversation."

Fallon then appeared in full Putin costume, complete with a balding head and a thick Russian accent. After swapping jokes about President Barack Obama's mom jeans and Putin's reputation for brazen manliness, Palin and Putin (Fallon) dove into a rendition of Pharrell Williams' "Happy," with Putin on a balalaika and Palin on the flute.

The skit continues a long tradition of Fallon inviting politicians (or former politicians, in Palin's case) to his show to participate in his viral-ready skits.

One such recurring segment, "Slow Jam the News," has featured the likes of Mitt Romney, Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Fallon also made headlines when he and first lady Michelle Obama performed "The Evolution of Mom Dancing" on his previous show, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," in February 2013.

Fallon's approach to politics on his updated version of "The Tonight Show" is seen largely as a departure from the more aggressive style of his predecessor Jay Leno and Leno's rival David Letterman, principally because Fallon uses politics almost exclusively for jokes, not advocacy.

"Jimmy Fallon replaced Leno — who was seen as the one late-night host with a welcome mat out for the GOP — and moved 'The Tonight Show' back to New York City after decades in Hollywood," Politico's Hadas Gold wrote in February. "Beyond the location, expect another big departure from Leno: Not nearly as many heavy-hitting political jokes or guests."

But Wednesday night Fallon was in rare form. Not only did his segment with Palin cause some who have questioned Palin's claim that she predicted the invasion to express disappointment, but Fallon's opening monologue also took potshots at the recent Obamacare enrollment numbers.

"That’s right, the White House said that it surpassed its goal for people enrolled in Obamacare," Fallon joked in his nightly monologue. "It’s amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory and fine people if they don't do it."

Whether or not Fallon is actually choosing sides is likely irrelevant. Now that the skit and monologue are out, the late-night host who once was seen as a threat to conservatives for his chummy relationship with the president has become a viral sensation on conservative media outlets overnight.

JJ Feinauer is a web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.

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