I’ve always liked Stephen Colbert. He was consistently hilarious as the deadpan Daily Show correspondent barraging John Stewart with inanities. Although initially skeptical of the premise for the Colbert Report (how do you satirize something as inherently comical as a right wing talk show host?) Steven managed to make the show his own. I even enjoyed his “Mr. Goodwrench” commercials, where the producers allowed just the slightest edge of classic Colbert loopiness to shine through:
“If Mr. Goodwrench were a tool, what tool would he be?”
“Oh, sorry. Miter saw. We were looking for miter saw.”
As funny as I think Stephen Colbert is, I never considered putting him in same the category as a Lenny Bruce or Dick Gregory or Mark Twain for that matter; comedians/humorists who used their talents to directly challenge the political and societal status quo. Last Friday evening, however, Stephen Colbert joked his way into this elite group.
Performing at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner with George and Laura only a few feet away, Colbert’s O’Reillyesque alter ego skewered President Bush and his administration six ways from Sunday.
Delivered with the stern sincerity of a Bill Bennett commentary, Colbert brought up Bush’s low approval ratings, saying the President should ignore them because they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.” He also took a jab at Bush’s image as a guy who sticks to his principles. “When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday -- no matter what happened Tuesday."
Needless to say, George and Laura were not happy, virtually snubbing the comedian after the show. Who in the White House thought it was a good idea to have Colbert appear at the dinner? I can imagine one of the President’s brainwashed staffers praising the Colbert Report without realizing it's satire. “He’s sharp and very tight with O’Reilly.”
In one stand-up routine, Colbert did what the entire mainstream media has been afraid to do during the last five-and-a-half years: speak the truth right to George Bush’s face. Someone finally looked the President in the eye and told him he was wrong and out of touch with the rest of the nation.
Colbert has become an overnight hero among liberal bloggers, and I join them in praising his courage. Stephen, the Colbert Nation salutes you.