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Talk Of The (Colbert) Nation

November 2nd, 2007

So, Stephen Colbert has been denied a spot on the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary ballot, and Vic and I are happy about the development. Make no mistake, we’ve both been fans of Colbert since his time on The Daily Show, and we still regularly watch The Colbert Report. I, for one, am amazed at just how long he’s managed to maintain what is essentially a one-note premise.

All that said, his recently-announced presidential bid made both Vic and I uncomfortable, her more so than me. She felt that the political process was already enough of a joke without subjecting it to a spoof candidacy.

I was a bit more willing to go along with the idea at first, if only to see where he’d go with it. I’ve been fascinated with Colbert’s use of his lunatic bully pulpit to effect real-life (if absurd) change: from inspired acts of Wikipedia sabotage to a successful bid in a Hungarian bridge-naming contest. I was intrigued that Colbert appeared to be taking the necessary steps to become an official candidate, despite the obvious legal hurdles involved in simultaneously hosting a nightly comedy TV series. (Not to mention having his presidential campaign sponsored by Doritos!)

Still, I find myself relieved that Colbert’s bid was rejected by the South Carolina Democratic party. (Ironically, the faux right-wing host was already denied running as a Republican because their filing fee–literally 14 times as much as that of the Democrats–would’ve exceeded the campaign spending cap that allowed him to otherwise skirt federal election laws.) It’s not like he was any threat to the front-runners, but as we’ve found in both the 2000 and 2004 general elections, a couple of percentage points one way or another in a key state can really screw the end result.

The end of Colbert’s campaign couldn’t be better timed in that it appears highly likely that the Writers’ Guild will strike, indefinitely shutting down both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Though in another bit of irony, not being able to hype his candidacy on Comedy Central presumably would have solved some of the legal issues involved.

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