Fey -- the former head writer on the show and the star of the NBC series, "30 Rock" -- opened the show Saturday night playing Palin in a sketch that also featured her former "Weekend Update" co-anchor Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
In the sketch, Palin (Fey) and Clinton (Poehler) talk about what Fey, as Palin, calls the "very ugly role that sexism is playing in the campaign."
"An issue which I am frankly surprised to hear people suddenly care about," says Poehler as Clinton.
The guest host, Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps, appeared in a series of comedy sketches, playing himself in some and playing characters in others. In one segment, he was coached in the ways of celebrity endorsement by pitchman and Emmy-winning actor William Shatner.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama had planned to make an appearance but canceled late Friday as then-Hurricane Ike approached the Texas Gulf Coast.