Comic Russell Brand caused controversy at the MTV Video Music Awards 2008, with an opening monologue that took shots at President Bush, Madonna and the Jonas Brothers.

Russell, who hosted the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night, discussed the upcoming US presidential election, publicly backing hopeful Barack Obama – and slating current president George Bush.

He said: “As a representative of the global community, a visitor from abroad, I don’t want to come across a little bit biased, but could I please ask of you, people of America, please elect Barack Obama, please, on behalf of the world.”

“Some people, I think they’re called racists, say America is not ready for a black president,” he said. “But I know America to be a forward-thinking country because otherwise would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years?”

“We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors.”

But he had kind words for co-host Britney, who swept the boards, picking up three gongs for Best Video, Best Pop Video and Best Female Video for Piece Of Me.

Russell hailed the ‘launch of a very new Britney Spears era’ saying: “Consider this the resurrection of Britney Spears. If there was a female Christ, it’s Britney.”

Britney, whose recent troubles have been well-documented in the press thanked God, “my beautiful family, my two beautiful boys, for just inspiring me every day and my fans, this is for you”.

The MTV Video Music Awards is on at 9pm tonight on MTV1.

Watch Russell Brand’s controversial speech here