Legendary political commentator Dr. John McLaughlin -- whose long-running show inspired famous 'SNL' spoofs -- has died ... just days after missing his program for the first time ever.
"The McLaughlin Group" -- a round table political discussion -- has been on the air for more than 34 years, and John hosted every weekly episode. During the airing this past weekend ... the show began with a slate explaining McLaughlin was "under the weather" and would not appear on the panel. His voice was heard though saying the familiar ... "Issue one."
McLaughlin was an ordained priest with a PhD in philosophy, who had also been a speech writer for Richard Nixon ... before his TV show launched in 1982.
The show released a statement announcing his passing, but did not specify what caused it.
Dana Carvey famously played the irascible host in a recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit.
McLaughlin was 89.