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Sunday
May072006

Colbert Sticks it to Bush

231239-333103-thumbnail.jpgAnnalou Larsen writes: American spirits have been lifting visibly on the Internet in recent weeks. ‘Gas’ prices are up, the mess in Iraq grows worse, what the US will do about Iran is a constant and present dread, and George W Bush is still President. But the economy is on the upturn, and the State of California – notoriously and presently Republican – just joined the State of Illinois in voting to impeach President Bush.

The best shot in the arm though, and one that’s caused a continuing blogstorm on the Web, was Stephen ‘brass cojones’ Colbert’s performance at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday 29 April.

Stephen Colbert’s comedy is already well known to Americans who watch The Colbert Report:
comedy central .

No doubt the President and the White House Press Corps expected to enjoy a good laugh and some gentle congratulation in inviting him to perform for them in his usual persona “of the earnest but clueless newsman of his Comedy Central TV show, 'The Colbert Report.” [Sun Times Com]

What they, an enthralled nation, and then an enthralled world got instead was an attack on the President and the Press Corps so savagely funny that it almost destroyed both on its own.

The 15 – 20 minute video (depending on editing) of the performance is available all over the Internet, including at YouTube, but here are two alternative viewing sites:
crooks and liars
google video

I won’t spoil it for you by summarising it, but here are couple of brief quotes:

“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.”
and “The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man's beliefs never will.”

In another wonderful moment, he thanks the Press ‘for not telling the public any secrets because they’re depressing – so you gave us what we wanted and didn’t report them.’

Watch the faces of the Press Corps and the President. Better still, watch the whole unfolding story of the Presidential facial and body language reactions here:
ifilm
Woo, that was a big gulp of wine!

President and Mrs Bush reportedly left the gathering very soon afterwards, ‘thin-lipped’. A Republican friend earnestly explained to me that Colbert had rehearsed his performance first with Mr Bush ‘because he was nervous but the President reassured him’, but this turned out to be confusion with Steve Bridges who performed earlier during the dinner as a Bush impersonator.

The Press Corps were not only less than enthusiastic, they mostly failed to report the performance at all on Sunday, and have attacked it ever since, using words like ‘not funny’ and ‘Colbert bombed.’

The letters to the newspapers told a different story, like this excerpted letter at Editor & Publisher:
“The reason so many in attendence at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner thought Stephen Colbert's routine was not funny is not because they didn't get the joke. They are the joke.”

And so do the resulting blogstorms in which Americans both rejoiced that a very brave man had stood up to the President and told him the truth to his face; and sparked an intensive debate about whether the ball has now passed from the collapsed and cringing American Press to blog sites.

The performance has also sparked some great articles, but this is one of my favourites:
The Truthiness Hurts
salon.com

Then there’s the “Thank You Stephen Colbert” site that’s sprung up at:
thankyoustephencolbert.com where I happened upon this one from Joan Walsh at Salon:
“Personally, I’m enjoying watching apologists for the status quo wear themselves out explaining why Colbert wasn’t funny. It’s extending the reach of his performance by days without either side breaking character — the mighty Colbert or the clueless, self-important media elite he was satirizing. For those who think the media shamed itself by rolling over for this administration, especially in the run-up to the Iraq war, Colbert’s skit is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, Stephen Colbert!”

Enjoy!

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Reader Comments (2)

Colbert was the best. I loved watching how uncomfortable everybody was when he would rip into GWB. Bush doesn't often hear from someone ten feet away from him that he is a complete bafoon.
May 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPoliticalCritic
I saw that on YouTube before it disappeared and this lovely message appeared in it's place "This video has been removed due to copyright infringement." But I just loved the 'shake and run' move made by Pres. Bush at the end.
May 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBec

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