NewsBusters has a story that sheds some interesting light on that question. According to reports, Treasury Secretary Paulson asked for McCain to come help in Washington.
John McCain got involved in the bailout negotiations after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Sen. Lindsey Graham yesterday that the bailout plan would fail unless McCain came in and brought balky Republicans aboard.And more specifically:
Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you've got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you've got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don't do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that's how, McCain, apparently, became involved.Two ways to look at this.
If you want to be negative, it is a sign that the bailout plan is seriously flawed since so many Republicans are hesitant to vote for it. McCain might be able to rally them to vote yes, but is he pushing bad legistlation?
If you want to be positive, then it is strong evidence that other people consider McCain to be a leader. Paulson wants the bailout plan passed and he needs McCain because people will listen to McCain.
In any event, it seems it wasn't a stunt but an actual request. That in and of itself is newsworthy.