CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin probably never thought his name would be mentioned on "Saturday Night Live," let alone as a character in the show's opening sketch.
But if it brings attention to the gun control bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., he's OK with the ribbing.
Manchin said he didn't see the show Saturday night but began receiving calls and texts during and after. He and Toomey, who made rounds on Sunday news shows, had a chance to watch it when they sat down with CNN's Candy Crowley.
"We all grew up with SNL," said the 65-year-old Manchin in a Sunday evening phone interview. "It is what it is and it was funny. Bottom line is it was funny."
See the video here:
http://www.hulu.com/watch/478679?playlist_id=1647 -- link to video
The presidential seal filled the television screen late Saturday night, and then cut to cast member Jay Pharoah, dressed to look like President Barack Obama, standing at the podium saying the Senate had voted to begin debating the idea of talking about gun control.
The U.S. Senate voted 68-31 Thursday to move forward with the debate.
The show is known for taking on timely issues, especially those dealing with politics. The long running variety show's opening sketches have been both famously good and notoriously bad, but almost always end in someone yelling loudly into the camera "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"
Saturday's lead-in featured two senators who had been making the news all week. Sens. Manchin, D-W.Va., and Toomey, portrayed by cast members Jason Sudeikis and Bill Heder, respectively, appeared at the podium at the faux president's behest and talked about their bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases.
"They both worked very hard together to bang out a bipartisan agreement," Pharoah said as the president. "These men risked everything for this bill.
"I mean, Senator Manchin represents West Virginia and he's proposing gun reform? He's gonna lose his job."
Sudeikis stood in a dark pinstriped suit with a red necktie; similar to what Manchin wore last week when he and Toomey unveiled the bill. The actor wore a salt and pepper wig neatly coiffed in a style similar to Manchin's and a pair of eyeglasses.
The men go on to talk about things the bill does and does not do, all of which are false and outlandish.
In the SNL world the bill would ensure that potential gun buyers would be asked if they were a "good person." A question that would be followed up with "Seriously, are you?"
The fake bill would prohibit AK-47 assault rifles from being sold in coin-operated vending machines and would limit the number of guns one could fire at once to two, but the penalty for those firing three or more guns at once is that the person would be given a fourth gun.
And none of what was proposed would apply to Florida, somehow.
"So look is this bill what we wanted? No, no. Is it what the NRA wanted? No. But does it at least help in some small way? Probably not, it doesn't," Sudeikis said as Manchin.
"We are confident this bill will pass the Senate and it will then go to the House of Representatives where it will immediately get shot down," said Heder as Toomey.
Sudeikis then mimicked shooting the bill down with a rifle and said he'd seen it done on C-SPAN, where the House "gets a little rowdy." The pair threw it back to the president, who then threw it to the house band for the opening of the Vince Vaughn hosted show.
When asked if he ever thought even a character of himself would appear on the show, Manchin laughed.
"That's a long way from Farmington, West Virginia," he said.
He said he loved the state and it's people and wanted to make sure everything he did represented them in the best light. The senator didn't think the sketch was "all bad," and didn't take it personally.
He said the show using the skit as its opener showed the importance of the matter.
Manchin hoped the attention would spur people to read the bill.
The two senators actually appeared Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." Manchin also appeared on "Weekends with Alex Witt" on MSNBC to talk about what he calls "gun sense."
Witt informed him that the bill had picked up its first Republican supporter in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins. Manchin, who appeared on the show from Washington, said he believed that if more of his Senate colleagues read the 49-page bill that they would support it.
Another victory came when the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms announced Sunday it supported the bill. The group is the second largest gun rights advocate behind the National Rifle Association, which already has denounced the bill.
He said he thought the more people knew the more they would support it.
"If you are a law abiding gun owner in America and you read this bill, you're going to like the things in this bill that treat you like a law-abiding gun owner," Manchin said on Witt's show.
"And if you're a criminal or you've been mentally adjudicated and you try to buy a gun at a gun show or online you're not going to like the bill because that'll prevent you from getting the gun."
He said he met with the parents of those killed in the Newtown, Conn. school massacre and that they told him the bill would not have prevented their children's deaths. The senators said the families told him that if they could help one other family and prevent them from going through what they did that "it would be something."
Manchin said the families had not asked to take anyone's guns away and that the bill would not do so. The families hadn't asked for a requirement to register guns, and the bill made it illegal to do any type of registration, he said.
"All they've asked for is that if you can prevent a criminal or someone who's mentally deranged from going to a gun show or online not to get it, maybe you can spare another family," Manchin said of the families.
He said the people of America have become cynical and didn't trust lawmakers to find a balance. This bill, he said, finds balance and doesn't infringe on individuals. Their goal is to close loopholes and keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and those who are mentally ill.
"I come from the beautiful state of West Virginia and we have a gun culture," Manchin said on the show. "We were raised with guns. (The bill) does not infringe on anyone's ability to give it to their child, or a grandparent giving it to their grandson, or family members, or anybody in an individual transfer.
He pointed out that the bill would make background checks mandatory for those buying guns at commercial gun shows or online and hopefully prevent criminals and the mentally ill who have been adjudicated in court from buying a firearm.
"It's a good piece of legislation and I feel good about it," Manchin said over the phone.
The Senate will begin discussing the bill this week, he said.
The bill can be viewed on Manchin's website at www.manchin.senate.gov.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.