Eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps hosts the show, joking that it's his "ninth greatest moment"

By Brian Orloff
September 14, 2008 12:45 AM

Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live on the show’s season premiere Saturday, portraying Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the opening skit alongside a pregnant Amy Poehler, who played Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The sketch pitted the women against each other in what they deemed a “non-partisan message” to skewer issues of sexism surrounding the presidential election. Also a target: Palin’s views on foreign affairs and global warming.

“I can see Russia from my home,” Fey’s Palin chirped, joking about the candidate’s putative lack of experience with international affairs. Dressed in a red suit and glasses, Fey also ribbed Palin, who has publicly spoken about her faith, for views on climate change, teasing that global warming “is just God hugging us closer.”

The late-night NBC show was guest hosted by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who played a multitude of characters on the show, including a spastic teenager and himself as a guest on a talk host hosted by Charles Barkley (played by Keenan Thompson).

Phelps also made himself a target during his opening monologue. The Olympian called his hosting gig “the ninth greatest moment in my life.” Poehler sat in the audience parodying the swimmer’s mother, often spotted cheering on her son in Beijing. (Phelps’ mother, Debbie, appeared as herself beside Poehler as well.)

While castmember Kristen Wiig teased PEOPLE that she would write sketches for the athlete that would allow him to bare his toned body, Phelps kept his clothes on for all of the 90-minute show.