What Can One Say but … Awesome!

Am I sorry I missed this.

A blistering comedy “tribute” to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close. …

… Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “They are re-arranging the deck chairs–on the Hindenburg.”

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movies, always getting punched in the face—“and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.”

Turning to the war, he declared, “I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as ” Valerie Plame.” Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, “Uh, I mean… Joseph Wilson’s wife.” He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops” on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face.

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, “When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday – no matter what happened Tuesday.”

Video at Crooks & Liars

A couple of bloggers (example) have noted there wasn’t a lot of laughing. Heh.

A couple of rightie bloggers said that Colbert “bombed” and was “embarrassing.” Clearly, these people have no sense of humor.

Update: This makes up for the atrocity that occurred at the 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents’ dinner — the infamous “where are those WMDs?” video. But even when the jokes aren’t about an “oopsie” that caused countless deaths, there’s something obscene about a black-tied and begowned audience sitting at dinner and laughing at George W. Bush’s charming little foibles. Obscene, I say.

Atrios and Co.
say the President was drunk last night. If I were him, I’d be living in a bottle, too.

27 thoughts on “What Can One Say but … Awesome!

  1. The only coverage I saw about this (on CNN) this morning was the Bush impersonator pronouncing “nuclear” correctly and everybody laughing. Nothing about Colbert and his biting satire.

  2. NPR’s weekend edition mentioned L’Affaire Colbert prominently, and played a clip of Colbert’s joke with the punchline that “everyone knows reality has a liberal bias.”

    Naughty Fool! Off with his head!

    So, maha, did you march yesterday?

  3. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know–fiction.”

    That’s putting right between the eyes…

  4. It was fantastic! Hooray Helen Thomas! We should put her on a t-shirt!
    However, I’m sure the righties thought it was all in bad taste (if they understood it, that is). Of course, if they didn’t think it was funny, I think it must be because THEY HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR…

  5. If Colbert wanted to be funny in the righties eyes he should have talked about lynching someone….

    I am not at all suprised that reality based humor went right over their heads…reality has escaped them…It’s a concept they have abandoned…..I am certain this same group were highly amused to tears by the humor of the “where’s the wmd” video where bush was looking between his legs for wmd as if it was some kind of joke while our troops were dying in Iraq.Too bad they didn’t even notice, once again , the joke was on them..bush was making fun of the fact they were so stupid they would believe anything…
    bush was making fun of them for buying the big WMD lie…and they didn’t even notice..they still have not figured it out.

    I guess by inviting Colbert to speak , it will give the righties some shiny object to amuse themselves with for now…How long will it be before righties wake up and see bush is treating them like retarded children?Or do they actually need to be handled in that way?, one shiny object after another.

    But that beats letting the masses discuss what our special forces are doing in Iran already, or dwell on the high cost of gas,after all the motto at bush co is “we will sell no product line before it’s time”..a good dictator always has to control the message, so look forward to plenty of small shiny objects for the righties to play with …..it keeps them from having the time to grasp reality based humor…

    Maybe the righties are just angry that dennis miller wasn’t there instead.heh.

  6. I saw Colbert’s performance via Crooks and Liars, and was impressed by his sheer courage, and by the dead-on sharpness of some of his zingers. I liked him a lot before he got his own show.

    But I find he is best in small doses – the experience of watching him parody some obnoxious right-wing gasbag is more than I want to bear, having put up with the real article + doltish followers for far too long. I though the Helen Thomas video was too long – I got the point well before it ended. I’m sure a lot of it is me – sick of right wing obnoxiousness, even in parody – but IMO Stephen needs to learn to be succinct, and tighten it up. Sometimes he is extremely good at this, and other time his act drags on.

    But all of these criticisms pale to the satisfaction I got from seeing him in the king’s court and getting away with it.

  7. alyosha –
    No, it wasn’t just you. A part of me was thinking those very things you mentioned. The Helen Thomas bit would have been more effective if it had been tightened. I’m used to criticizing the editing of skits like this in my head all the time. (Now if I had done that bit, I would have…) But then, I don’t like to criticize too much because he did pull it off to a certain extent. (Not an easy task) I loved the idea of it and some of the visuals more than the actual performance, which I admit was slightly flawed. And, like you, I admire him for the sheer guts of it all.

  8. Sam, glad I’m not alone. There’s a diary over at DKos that says it’s because we’re old:

    …Us Gen X/Y types really seem to go for the Shadow Boomer Satirists, and our parents often laugh when we retell the jokes or they catch a snippet of the programs. But when the satirists do interviews or extended editorial or show presentation gigs, the generation gap of the audience yawns wide open. People my age still find the jokes funny, if not funnier. Not so much the older people…

  9. alyosha –
    Ohhh, I think I understand. I thought I was feeling a little old these days. Maybe my discomfort at times is because I have the voice of my WWII era’s parents still ringing in my ears (defining “good taste,” you know). On the other hand, the newer generation has my era’s Saturday Night Live’s voice in it’s ears.
    As long as Colbert spoke truth to power, I felt that big sense of “YES!” But if he sounded silly, or “off,” then I cringed with some embarrassment. As though I need to be taken seriously by…a criminal? And those who ally themselves with him? The younger generation probably doesn’t care because they don’t respect the guy, true?
    However, my kids thought some of it could have been done better. But then, they’re sensitive the subtleties of movie making and editing.

  10. I love Stephen Colbert and his “truthiness”. I’m watching him being covered by 60 Minutes right now. Apparently many of Colbert’s guests are not aware of his brand of humor before they appear on his show – many appear caught off-guard and insulted. That was his shtick on the Daily Show and it was hilarious.

    Obviously, no one warned the president!

  11. As long as Colbert spoke truth to power, I felt that big sense of “YES!” But if he sounded silly, or “off,” then I cringed with some embarrassment.

    Sam, that is exactly how I felt. There’s a fine balance between the schtick – which is the delivery vehicle – and the deadly accurate zinger, the truth bomb. The schtick is necessary, but it can get in the way. For me, it’s like watching a distant TV channel, trying to put up with the lousy reception to see/hear a few good nuggets.

  12. alyosha –

    Good analogy. I appreciate what he does, but it’s sort of like watching someone on a highwire. Most of the time he makes it across; sometimes he doesn’t.
    One of the few comedians I’ve ever heard who was able to elicit an almost total, truthful “clarity” in his humor was Richard Pryor. I think it’s because his painful perceptions of life were completely honest. Different species of comedy than what Colbert does, though, I know.

  13. Colbert, Stewart and Michael Moore have, on occasion, played better to the audience-beyond-the-audience than to the audience. It takes a brave comedian to make the venue part of the joke. I thought Colbert’s performance was hysterical – and inspiring. Daniel in the lion’s den comes to mind.

  14. I saw Colbert; he was brilliant, the audience sat dumbstruck. While those of us who despise this Administration found Colbert’s words to be hilariously “truthy”, the Bushfolk simply didn’t get it.

    “Today’s” Katie Couric and Matt Lauer yukked it up with a clip of the lame Bush/double routine and made no mention whatsoever about Colbert. Hush, now!

  15. As I wached Colbert, I actually caught myself feeling sorry for W and his goons. Damn, they must have been uncomfortable.
    But then I remembered my brother over in Fallujah, away from his wife and five kids, and I though, “Fuck that!. He deserves every bit of discomfort there is and then some!”

    I was also trying to imagine a right-wing comic pulling off something like this against a liberal President. And I just couldn’t do it. First of all, the liberal President would be unlikely to pose as big a target, and second, right wingers just can not be that funny. I don’t know why that is true, but it surely is.

    And yeah, the Helen Thomas bit was a bit like watching King Kong. You had me at the Gannon button. The chase scene was unnecessary.

  16. Colbert-He was funny but not 100% which is difficult for any comedian to maintain. He started off cool and warmed up. He got his digs in and hit many good points. The Republicans were probably afraid to laugh in fear that they might be caught on camera. I watched the replay Sunday on CSPAN.

    Bush’s double was funny. I read in The New York Times that that it takes Stephen two hours to get into Bush makeup. The only things real are his eyes and teeth.

    It was Momma Bush’s idea. She also used Stephen to introduce her at some function.

  17. Does Colbert actually have such big balls, or are they just big in comparison to the balls on the rest of the media?
    Thought the bit was fantastic. To bad it’s not yet a daily occurance the rest of the media. Maybe it will be, though, as long as Colbert doesn’t die in a ‘tragic’ road accident or something in the next couple of weeks.

  18. Colbert got what it’s about. The yearly event is intended to make fun of the President. It doesn’t matter how big your balls are, what matters is what they are made of and how smart they are to “stay on task”.

    I would have loved to see the comedian Robin Williams up there. He would have really nailed Bush.

  19. Bush’s double at the Sat. night event would make a better President.

    He has a sense of humor!

    BIG PLUS is that his Mother is not Uncle Ben!

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