Ken Tucker
February 16, 2010 AT 02:41 PM EST

Last night, after his opening-monolgue jokes, David Letterman sat down at his desk and delivered a casually stinging rebuke to the Olympics official who accused dead luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili of making “a mistake… that had fatal consequences.”

“A ‘mistake’?” said Letterman witheringly. “I just wonder if it had anything to do with those exposed steel girders… Don’t blame the kid, for god’s sake,” the host said, referring to Kumaritashvili, the 21 year-old representative of the Russian country of Georgia. “He had said to his dad. ‘I think something’s a little haywire here; I’m a little bit frightened about the track’…

“For them to say that he made a mistake, that just stinks,” continued Letterman. Why is it, he asked, that “they then repaired the track and covered up the girders and started [the race] from the women’s starting point?

“You know what it is? It’s hypocrisy, ladies and gentlemen,” said Letterman to loud applause.

And then, because of Dave’s instinct to express his feelings strongly and then feel that Midwestern twinge that he shouldn’t be getting on a soapbox, he concluded his remarks with a mild joke: “It’s a game. It’s like playing poker. You make a mistake playing poker you’re not gonna lose your life.” Pause, then: “It depends on who you’re playing with.” He gave the line a cheap-Vegas-comic spin, the band added drum rim-shot punctuation, and Dave was off to the next segment, some funny staff elevator races.

Yet more proof that Letterman is the unique late-night host, willing to speak frankly about non-show-biz without letting his show become ponderous.

What do you think of Letterman’s remarks?

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