Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert: Courageous American Patriot

Just in case you missed it, here's Stephen Colbert's astonishing performance at the Annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Colbert is a national treasure. He got his big break on The Daily Show, but his spinoff, The Colbert Report (pretentiously pronounced The Colbear Repore) skewers the right-wing spin machine with the sharpest blades on television. Invited to speak at the Correspondents' Dinner (presumably for comic relief), Colbert teamed up with press corps doyenne Helen Thomas to deliver a shockingly ferocious ironic attack on not only the President (who had to sit there with his wife and take it), but also on the obsequious press corps sycophants trying to honor themselves for a job well done.

Here's a snip from Colbert's monologue, in which he addresses President Bush -- who as noted, was sitting right there: I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

Following the monologue, Colbert reveals that he tried out for the White House Press Secretary job recently vacated by Scott McClellan. He then rolls the tape of the audition, in which a Terminator-like Helen Thomas pursues him out to the parking lot trying to get an answer for why we actually invaded Iraq. Thomas seems to be having a ball aiming a big "fuck you" at an administration that has disrespected her so thoroughly.

The Daily Kos has a full transcript. CSPAN has played it in its entirety at least once, but the rest of the American media has virtually ignored it or played only small snippets. I recommend you check it out online if at all possible. The Crooks and Liars link at the top is only a portion of Colbert's talk. Here's the complete performance: Part One and Part Two.

It's easy to underestimate or ignore the courage it takes to stand in front of the President in a public forum and essentially accuse him of criminal incompetence. We live in creepy times, and this administration has shown itself more than capable of violent personal attacks against those who oppose it. Colbert himself looks pretty uncomfortable at the end, as the President and his wife sweep past him with tight-lipped half-grins.

But he never wavered when delivering the goods, he never broke irony with any sort of "just kidding" wink wink, nudge nudge expression. Colbert drew blood and took no prisoners. I doubt he'll be invited back next year.


UPDATE: Thank Colbert yourself here.


redefinEdworld said...

That performance was incredible. I couldn't believe that W was sitting right there, he was so red either from the alcohol or embarassment is was great. Colbert is a very talented and gutsy guy.

PeaceLove said...

The courage cannot be underestimated. I can't think of many other comedians who would be willing to take it that far in front of the President of the United States.

Truly an American hero.

PeaceLove said...

Good luck with your new blog, btw. redefinedworld. It looks good so far!

Carl Zapffe said...

I hate to break it to you guys, but this is fairly standard White House correspondent's dinner stuff. Stephen Colbert did was he was brought in to do, roast the president.

PeaceLove said...

Sorry, Carl, but I have to wonder what planet you're living on. When Lisa Lampinelli said on the Pamela Anderson Roast, "Pamela is starring in a new show on VH1 called, 'I Fucked the Eighties,'" THAT's a roast. When Helen Thomas put out a question like, "Thousands have died and tens of thousands have been maimed, and all the reasons given for our war in Iraq have proven to be false. Why ARE we in Iraq?" and Colbert, allegedly auditioning for Press Secretary, has to run away in terror to avoid answering this question -- that's no roast. That's a barbed political attack on both the president and the pussy-whipped press corps.

Please show me another example of such caustic irony in any previous White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Carl Zapffe said...

My good friend and former writing partner had a hand in crafting Colbert's speech. I'll ask him to post his thoughts here.

PeaceLove said...

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from him.

This story is all over the Web, so I'm obviously not the only one who feels Colbert drew blood.

PeaceLove said...

Check out U.S. News' article, Skewering comedy skit angers Bush and aides. This was definitely not standard roast material.