Friday, April 18, 2008

Colbert, Clinton, Murphy, Edwards, Obama

Thursday night's Colbert Report on Comedy Central featured four political guests: Senator Hillary Clinton (D–NY), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D–PA), Senator John Edwards (D–NC), and Senator Barack Obama (D–IL). The appearances by the three Senators were clearly scripted, but they still may have some impact in the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday. Clinton endeavored to show both her competence and her humanness by "fixing" a technical problem with Colbert's big video screen. Murphy, the only Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran in Congress, gave an interview about why he has endorsed Obama. Edwards spoke about why he has not yet endorsed a candidate, and what either would have to do to get "this white male vote." Lastly, Obama showed up to put "manufactured political distractions" On Notice. Although neither Stephen Coal-bear (the on-screen persona) nor Stephen Coal-burt (the man behind the façade) has publicly supported any candidate currently in the race, on balance the episode seemed tipped slightly towards Obama.

At the beginning of the episode, Stephen tries to show a clip from Wednesday's Democratic debate on the big video screen, but the screen goes to a test pattern. The technicians are back in New York, though, leaving Stephen to ask:

Colbert: Are you telling me there's no one in this theater who can fix the mess we're in?

[Hillary Clinton walks onto the stage]

Clinton: I can! I can, Stephen!

Colbert: Senator, thank you so much! Thank you, Senator.

[prolonged applause and cheering]

Clinton: Well, let me handle this. Jimmy?

Jimmy: Yes, Senator Clinton?

Clinton: About the screen: how are you feeding this? Through the router or the Aux bus on the switcher?

Jimmy: Uh ... it's an Aux.

Clinton: Try toggling the input.

Jimmy: O-kay.

[video resumes]

Colbert: Holy cow!

Clinton: You know what, Stephen? Your forehead is a little shiny. Makeup, Makeup, powder, please. [makeup person touches up Stephen's face]

Colbert: Wow, Senator Clinton, you're so prepared for any situation! I just don't know how to thank you enough!

Clinton: That's okay, Stephen; I just love solving problems. Call me any time.

Colbert: Really?

Clinton: Sure! Call me at 3 a.m.

Colbert: Senator Clinton, everybody. [applause] Wow. I am gonna call her at 3 a.m.; I'm sure she left her cellphone number.
After reviewing some footage from Wednesday's debate, Colbert drew an analogy to the questions trying to attach Barack Obama to the controversial views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former revolutionary Bill Ayers.
Colbert: Consider this: Senator Obama has been endorsed by Ted Kennedy, Ted Kennedy is a Catholic, Catholics are led by the Pope, the Pope was a Nazi Youth — ergo, Barack Obama loves Hilter. Check ... mate!
Just before the commercial break, Colbert played a clip of George Stephanopoulos, one of the moderators of last night's debate and a former Clinton White House staffer, saying in 1992:
Stephanopoulos: What we're going to do in this campaign is focus on what's important to the American people: on the jobs, on the education — that's what the American people care about. They want to move into the future; they don't want to be diverted by side issues.
Next up is Congressman Patrick Murphy, D–PA, an Iraq War veteran gone to Washington to try to bring the war to a speedy conclusion.

Colbert: Congressman, thank you for joining us.

Murphy: Great to be with you.

Colbert: Now, you are the only member of Congress to have served in the present Iraq War.

Murphy: That's right: I was a Captain with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Colbert: All right, first of all, obviously, thank you for your service. Second, I don't want you to think that just because you have served and fought in Iraq, you have a better idea of what should happen there than me, okay? That is elitist thinking. Now, you're endorsing Barack Obama?

Murphy: That's right. That's right.

Colbert: Why are you supporting Barack Obama? He says he wouldn't've voted for the war that you volunteered for.

Murphy: That's right, and maybe we would've focused — continued to focus on Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is and Al Qaeda. Barack Obama, though, Stephen, he is the most inspirational leader I have ever met in my entire life. He gets Democrats and Republicans working together.

Colbert: It seems to me, though, that you're much more like Senator Clinton: you volunteered to go to war, and she volunteered to vote to send you to war, and both of you think the war is now a mistake, correct?

Murphy: Well, I'm a fan of Senator Clinton — I think she's very capable and I'm a fan.

Colbert: She's extremely capable — she fixed my screen!

Murphy: That's right. But I'm tellin' ya, I believe Barack Obama is a once-in-a-generation kind of leader, Stephen.

Colbert: Let's talk about the war for a second. The surge is working, correct?

Murphy: No, Stephen, the troops are heroes; they're doin' a great job, but it's the Iraqis that aren't working. In fact —

Colbert: But the surge is working.

Murphy: The surge is not

Colbert: The surge is working. Those are three positive words: surge, is, working.

Murphy: But the surge was supposed to have the political reconciliation — they're sittin' on the sidelines. You know, Stephen, Prime Minister Maliki, elected in '05, says I'm gonna share the oil revenues with the minorities, the Sunnis. '06, said it; '07, said it; '08, said it. Has not done it. Actions speak louder than words.

Colbert: Let me ask you this, sir, in all seriousness. If there may be governmental chaos there, there might be bombing in the streets, the Iraqis might be leaving their posts in the military, but if we leave, wouldn't there be chaos?

Murphy: No. No, Stephen. You know what? That type of thinking, that's fear-mongering that the Bush Administration is trying to do. It's the same type of fear-mongering that the Nixon Administration said in Vietnam. The fact is, we need to bring our troops home.

Colbert: What is Baghdad like?

Murphy: It's hot. 138° heat [59°C]. I was in Al Rasheed, Baghdad, the same size as the city of Philadelphia, 1.5 million Iraqis.

Colbert: Really?

Murphy: Now, when you look at how short-handed we were, my father served as a cop for 22 years here in Philly, 7,000 police officers. There was only 3500 of us, in a combat zone, where we didn't speak the same language. And maybe if they would've gave us enough troops to begin with, maybe 19 of my fellow paratroopers would've came home, but they didn't.

Colbert: How long do you think the troops should stay in Iraq — 100 years or 1,000 years?

Murphy: I really believe Barack Obama has it right: call for a 16-month timeline, a phased redeployment to bring our troops home, and it will send a message, Stephen. It will send a message to the Iraqi government, they can't take any more summer vacations. Actions speak louder than words. Get them off the sidelines and start bringin' our troops home.

Colbert: Representative Murphy, thank you so much for joining us.

Murphy: Pleasure, Stephen.

Colbert: Patrick Murphy. His book is Taking the Hill: From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress. We'll be right back.
Later, Colbert discussed the conventional wisdom that this year's Democratic nomination rests in the hands of an unusual group of swing voters — working-class white men — as shown in this clip from CNN:
Wolf Blitzer: In the past, it's been Soccer Moms, Independents; this year it could be white males who decide the race for the White House.
That led Colbert to talk about the candidate who most represented the concerns of the working class, John Edwards.

Colbert: Finally, America's white men are being heard! And the candidates are attempting to address the issues important to the male Caucasian demographic: issues like drinking [clip of Hillary Clinton drinking a shot of whiskey 2008-04-12], bowling [clip of Barack Obama bowling 2008-03-29], and napping [clip of John McCain dozing off in the Senate 2008-01-23]. But who — who can really speak to them? Barack Obama has got a "lock" on African American votes and the young, Hillary Clinton has carved out her niche with older working-class women, but there is no one who truly speaks to the male white working-class voter. There was John Edwards, but let's face it: he's out of the race. Politically, he is no longer a factor to be reckoned with.

Edwards: I beg to differ, Stephen. [cheers and applause] And that brings us to tonight's EdWørds:
Valued Voter. You know, Stephen, you're right about white males playing an important role in this election. Their votes are being courted as an important tie-breaker between these two tough candidates,• Valued Voter
and no white male's vote is being courted more vigorously than this one. [cheers and applause] It is no secret that both campaigns have sought my support.• No Offense, Al Gore
So far, I haven't decided which of these excellent candidates I'm gonna endorse. On the one hand, I don't want to be seen as anti-hope;[photos of Obama and Clinton]
on the other hand, I don't want James Carville to bite me. So, who?, who am I gonna vote for in the next-to-last primary, North Carolina?• Carville Hasn't Had Shots
Well, I'll support whoever presents a platform that's consistent with my values. I'll support the candidate who'll raise the federal minimum wage, somebody who'll fight for the 37 million Americans who wake up in poverty every day, somebody who'll protect the interests of working families.• Universal Haircare
Also, I'd like a jet ski. They are so much fun,[photo of a jet ski]
and I don't really care which kind, [turns to look at bullet points] but those are pretty sweet. You know, Elizabeth and I love to go to the lake house in the summer, and it would sure be fun to go jet-skiing together. So I guess we'll actually need two jet skis, which reminds me:• Kawasaki 800 SXR
there are two Americas: one which does the work and the other reaps the reward. [turns to bullet points] Hey! Hey! [cheers and applause]• And a Third One That Gets Rich Suing The Second On Behalf Of The First
I understand! I understand what working folks go through. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before,• Sorry, Had To Do It
but my father was a mill worker. So, you know what? Let's get him a jet ski! Now, before anybody starts goin' out there saying All John Edwards cares about are jet skis, that is not true — I am deeply concerned about the lack of affordable healthcare in this country. The fact that we need to insure every single man, woman, and child in America,• 1,000,000th Mention [balloons and confetti]
goes without saying. But what does need to be said is that I will only support the candidate who promises to make me a spy. That would be so cool.• Especially By McCain
I get to have all those high-tech gadgets. I want to go on at least one mission a month, and it should be some place awesome, like Prague or a moon base — although I'm willing to settle for Tahiti or the Riviera; anywhere there's a chance for a jet ski chase. But America should never settle for allowing so many to live in economic hardship.• Pen That Launches Child-Care Tax Credits
If we put our minds to it, we can end poverty within thirty years. • Bush Ended Middle Class In 8
I want my grandkids to be born in a world where true economic equality is no longer a goal for the future, but a reality of the present. Oh — and I want my face on money, Secret Service protection for my dogs, and three new national holidays: Cate Day, Jack Day, and Emma Claire Day.• Grandkids Born In "Second Life"
Okay, kids, you can go to bed now. So, Barack, Hillary: if you want this white male vote,• Or Else Daddy Won't Get You A Jet Ski.
you're gonna have to show that you care just as much about the things that really matter to me as I do. And that is the EdWørd.[photo of jet skis]
That brings us nearly to the end of the program, with just time for one more surprise guest:

Colbert: Folks, that is it for the Report this week; I only wish Senator Obama could've joined us.

Obama: [on the giant video screen] So do I, Stephen.

Colbert: Senator Obama! Won't Senator Clinton be happy that she fixed our screen!

Obama: I'm sure she will, Stephen, I'm sure she will.

Colbert: Now, I enjoyed the debate last night, sir, though I have to take issue with you[r] calling some of the questions "manufactured political distractions."

Obama: Well, Stephen, I think the American people are tired of these games and petty distractions.

Colbert: Well, sir, speaking for the news media, I can tell you, we are not tired of it. It allows us to ask the same questions over and over again, and we don't do any more work.

Obama: Stephen, these distractions, they won't help fix our economy, they won't help people get healthcare, they won't help us get out of Iraq — Stephen, I would go so far as to say, I want to put these political distractions "on notice."

Colbert: What??

Obama: Boys, bring out the On Notice board.

Colbert: Senator, I have to warn you: I probably don't have a card for Distractions. Let me check here. Let's see, I've got Dimetapp®, Dionne Warwick, Deion Sanders, Dion-comma-Céline, Dirigibles — well, what do you know? Distractions: I actually have that. Okay, Senator, something's gonna have to come off; what should I remove?

Obama: Well, it can't be Grizzly Bears: they are the #1 threat to America.

Colbert: Good man! Good man.

Obama: So I think we should take off James Brady; he's a good guy.

Colbert: All right, all right, all right. All right, Brady, this is your lucky day! [removes James Brady from the top slot of the On Notice board] Okay, here we go. [inserts Distractions to the On Notice board] Distractions, I hope you're paying attention! WHAM! How does that taste?! [cheers and applause]

Obama: Manufactured political distractions, you are officially On Notice.

Colbert: Thank you, Senator Obama. Thank you, Philadelphia! I want to thank Ben Franklin, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. I want to thank the good people at Doritos®. I want to thank you, Pennsylvania. We told you how to think, now go vote! Good night, everybody!
It will be interesting to see if either Clinton or Obama picks up Edwards' challenge to address issues of poverty, job losses, and universal healthcare, in order to win his endorsement, either for Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, or more likely in the run-up to North Carolina's primary on 2008-05-06. With Barack Obama scheduled to appear on Monday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it will also be interesting to see if Comedy Central's late-night duo has a discernible effect on the outcome.

Technorati tags: Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, Hillary Clinton, Patrick Murphy, John Edwards, EdWords, EdWørds, EDWØRDS, Barack Obama, 2008 Election, Transcript

Transcripts and embedded video clips below the fold...