HERSHEY, PA — Politics may be large part theater, but there still appears to be a line even the longest tenured of game show host celebrities cannot cross. During Monday night’s Pennsylvania governor’s debate, Alex Trebek left analysts and leaders from both sides of the aisle shaking their heads after a performance which the GOP called “grandstanding.”

The longtime Jeopardy! host, 78, used quips and jokes, gave brief lectures on history, made analogies regarding the Catholic Church, and even quizzed candidates about the Eagles. Perhaps most importantly, he spoke more than either Gov. Tom Wolf or his Republican challenger, State Sen. Scott Wagner, an analysis from PA Watchdog revealed.

“Trebek was clearly biased in favor of his own voice,” Max Steele, the communications director for Sen. Bob Casey, wrote on Twitter.

Tuesday morning, Wagner called for two new debates (the Trebek-moderate debate was the only debate scheduled), in a missive issued from his office quoting Trebek as “garbage” and a “failed moderator.”

“A single 45 minute debate where the moderator spoke just as much as both candidates limited our chances to present our views on a number of topics,” Wagner said.

Gov. Wolf’s office has not yet responded to the request for more debates.

During the debate, held in Hershey and hosted by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, Trebek did appear well prepared, but simply did not stop talking.

“The approval rating for the legislature was 14 percent,” Trebek told the candidates. “The only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church.”

The remark was met with boos from the audience.

Many observers said the debate was an example of why journalists should always host debates, as successful moderation requires a specific set of nuanced skills.

“I appreciate that (Trebek) did a lot of homework to prepare for this debate,” U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-2) wrote on Twitter. “I don’t appreciate the fact he feels the need to show everyone what he’s learned about PA.”

Trebek had previously expressed his desire to moderate a presidential debate. In 2013, he accurately foretold Monday night’s performance in an interview with The Hill: “Unlike some of the other moderators — I’m not going to disparage them — but I have a different approach. I would not let the politicians get away with standard responses. I would try to pin them down, even though I might look bad doing it.”

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Trebek, a native of Canada and a resident of California, was announced back in February as the keynote speaker at the Chamber of Commerce’s dinner on Monday, and also as the moderator of this debate.

“Why Alex Trebek?” Boyle asked. “Not a clue.”

Image via Youtube screenshot

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