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Phoenix, Phelps linked in Letterman ridicule

What do Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps actor Joaquin Phoenix have in common?

They have both become the butt of David Letterman jokes about celebrity drug use. And while that might not seem like a big problem for Phelps compared to police in South Carolina reportedly investigating him, it does suggest how much damage has been done to the athlete's image by his bong photo. Before the photo appeared, even irreverent late-night comics treated him as a hero -- or at least, a young man of exceptional accomplishments.

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For those who didn't see it, the reference to Phelps and Phoenix came Thursday night on the Late Show with David Letterman when the comedian offered what he characterized as a new feature, "the Late Show Celebrity Drug Update." It was the only reference Letterman made during Thursday's monologue to the widely-discussed and much-critiqued appearance by Phoenix on the CBS late-night show Wednesday.

To many viewers, Phoenix looked to be stoned on drugs during that appearance. See the clip and read my analysis and reader comments here.

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Letterman introduced Thursday's piece by saying, "I need to do this as a public service to you.... It's a sad commentary but with so many celebrities involved in drugs... we introduce the Late Show celebrity Drug Update."

An image of Phelps then appeared onscreen with the word "weed" underneath. That was followed by New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez with the word "'roids" underneath. And then came an image of Phoenix from Wednesday's show with this underneath: "?????????".

"We don't know, we just don't know," Letterman, said laughingly.

Nice company for Phelps to find himself in, isn't it? And he's the one who made himself fair game for such ridicule.

PS: There is an image of Phoenix from his Wednesday night Letterman appearance at the Sun's Caption Call blog, and you are invited to post your caption with it. To do so, go here. Some of the captions there are brilliant.

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