It was a historic night, and the networks mostly made us proud — except for a handful of gaffes and some sci-fi-like technology they should maybe save for a brighter tomorrow. Here's our look at the most powerful, ridiculous, and notable moments of Election Night 2008.
Best Set: Rockefeller Center, with beautiful lighting, live crowds and the impractical-but-extremely-cool-iced-map-in-the-skating-rink, provides a glamorous backdrop for NBC's coverage.
Worst Sets: Fox and NBC take time out from their coverage to show how their sets are green-screen-generated. At least Fox News' sleek backdrop isn't as hokey as NBC's Greek columns.
First and Biggest Gaffe: Around 9 pm ET, Fox's Brit Hume calls the key state of Ohio for Obama, then backs off almost immediately: "I apologize folks. I'm told that we are not calling Ohio, that the checkmark was misplaced. Maybe it was the one that was supposed to go to Wisconsin and ended up in... you know, we've 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." Within the next 20 minutes Fox and MSNBC both announce that Obama has won Ohio.
Longest Lag: If Fox jumps the gun on Ohio, CNN ignores the shot, waiting until 9:34 to call it. It fills the time between the other cable networks' Ohio projection and its own with footage of Hank Williams Jr. performing at John McCain's campaign party, Wolf Blitzer promising a "a big projection" on the way, a commercial break, and John King explaining how McCain can still win the Buckeye State.
Weirdest Technological Advance: Will.i.Am speaks holographically to Anderson Cooper about his "get out and vote" video. Help me, Obi Barack Kenobi. You are my only hope.
Best Redistribution of Cookie Wealth: At 9:52, with little good news rolling in for McCain, Chris Wallace offers the other members of Fox's election team some special cookies brought just for him by his friend Karl Rove: "These are cookies in the form of a high-def, widescreen Fox TV - and just because this is the kind of guy I am, although Karl brought them specifically for me - Brit, panel, I'd like to bring you some snacks from Karl Rove." Hume, accepting a cookie: "Well God bless you both."
Best International Reporting: On Comedy Central, Indecision 2008's Senior Foreign Correspondent, Aasif Mandvi, purports to report live from Al-Qaeda headquarters that terrorists are disappointed with Obama: "These guys were told Obama was their candidate, but the more they learn about this guy the less they like," Mandvi explains. "The radical madrasa he allegedly went to was in fact Harvard Law, which, as madrasas go, is fairly liberal." Mandvi goes on to explain that young terrorists favor Obama, while those 25-30 favor McCain. Jon Stewart: "And the terrorists over 30?" Mandvi: "You don't know much about terrorism, do you Jon?"
Middle Ground Award: Appearing on NBC, Rudy Giuliani says, "You know what happens tomorrow? We all become Americans, and support Barack Obama or John McCain, whoever won. Because if they fail, we fail."
Best Moment of Silence: After nearly two years of pronouncements, guesses, and so much arguing, the talking heads of MSNBC and CNN fall silent after Obama's win to show massive crowds of supporters in jubilant celebration.
Most Solid Proof Reporters Are Human: ABC News' Steve Osunsami, reporting from historically African-American Morehouse College, chokes back tears while reporting his own response to Obama's win: "From a personal note, as a kid I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly black, and my father used to tell us that there's no way this country would elect a black president. Well this evening, the country has proved my old man wrong, and we're the better for it."
Best Concession Speech: Shushing supporters who boo Obama's name, McCain delivers a gracious speech about the significance of the country electing its first African-American president, and pledging his support.
Best Acceptance Speech: Obama asks if the country can unite, and leads the crowd in answering: Yes, we can.
What were your election night top moments?