Who wants to be trashed by Colbert? Not incumbents.

153758__colbert_lThere’s a Colbert in the woods. And it’s hunting Congressional incumbents. Who’d have guessed that a cerebral late-night cable comedian could take a "434-part series" on Congressional districts and turn it into a political phenomenon?*

That series, The Colbert Report‘s "Better Know a District," has become kryptonite for embattled incumbents — especially, it should be noted, embattled Republican incumbents. It has become, in the words of one Democratic consultant, "must-not-do TV." (Now you know why Democratic consultants don’t work in major-network marketing.)

After watching Stephen Colbert (pictured) tear into Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (who semi-famously failed to recite the Ten Commandments), you’d have to wonder why any politician would brave the Report. (Westmoreland saw his "Better Know…" spot end up on Democratic opponent Mike McGraw’s website — talk about your ultimate media nightmare.)

Ah, but Colbert has a strategy for those who duck him: Talk to the opponent. Which, if Colbert is doing his job right, makes both incumbent and challenger look gloriously stupid. But it also has the (possibly) unintended consequence of manufacturing easily excerptable smears — which only the most idiotic voters (meaning, I fear, most voters) swallow whole.

Was this Colbert’s fiendish plan all along? The more strident elements will probably say yes and say it loudly in the coming weeks. Well, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. There’s an election on, in case you haven’t heard. It’s getting uglier by the minute. And we’ll be in dire need of humor until it’s over, and probably afterwards, too.

*The answer is no one. No one could have guessed this. Not even Robot Einstein, who is so smart and has such adorable cyberbrows that he must be destroyed.

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  • Jennifer

    I noticed this two weeks ago, when I think it was some incumbent representative from New Jersey who refused to come on and he interviewed the opponent. Honestly though, I always wondered why most politicians did the Report or those segments on The Daily Show. A majority of them seem to either not understand that they’re being mocked or they aren’t quick enough on their feet to respond to the questions, even if they do get the humour.

  • Sara

    And then there was that one guy who said something about coke and hookers… It’s like Darwinism for conservatives. The ultimate irony!

  • Jay

    The one guy who was on there talking about coke and hookers….was a Democrat.

  • Sara

    Mkay, it’s like Darwinism for stupids. Dear god, I hope it doesn’t come for me next…

  • Kim

    I think The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the best things to happen to politics. It has gotten young people interested (my teenage son watches every day and just turned 18 and registered to vote right away) and it’s about the only alternative to the rightwing media. While lately they’ve had more material to mock the Republicans, that’s mostly just because they are the ones in power. But everyone is fair game…

  • Casey

    Humor is not specific to Republicans nor Democrats. It just so happens, however, that the Republicans these days are effortlessly giving comedians fodder for ages. When The Daily Show airs actual clips of our president speaking his incoherent cowboy talk, my laughs always end with a wince of shame that this man was elected.

  • Ed

    Isn’t that the daddy from Full House?

  • Ed

    Isn’t that the daddy from Full House?

  • Dave

    These politicians get what they deserve if they don’t realize what Colbert and Stewart set out to do (mock and expose them) when they appear on their shows. Unfortunately, the few who do (like the congressman who played along with coke and hookers joke, which was hilarious) end up getting lambasted anyway by the painfully uptight party bosses and general media. This is part of the problem with politics and government and what alienates them from a lot of the electorate. I think it’s refreshing to see politicians just be normal people once in awhile, and I would think most other voters out there would too. Unfortunately, a lot of voters aren’t that intelligent, and they can easily be manipulated by the political machine.
    Also, these guys literally are the only alternative to mainstream and conservative/rightwing media, so I keep going! And I hope conservatives and republicans realize that, should the democrats gain control of Congress, they will be just as incessantly mocked by Colbert and Stewart as the republicans are now. It’s all about the comedy, even if that comedy really does shed light on the dirty inner workings of politics and government.

  • Sara

    My absolute favourite part about Colbert is his “Holy crap, I can’t believe that just happened” look that slips in every now and then. Whether he’s convincing a Congressman to talk about coke and hookers, or getting a kiss from Jane Fonda, it’s always hilarious.
    But then again, I’ve had a crush on Colbert for years.

  • Stephanie

    Ed:
    Yes! Colbert looks like a better looking Bob Saget! Good eye.
    Of course his “holy crap, I can’t believe that just happened” look is funny and that is the type of president what we need, a guy who is intelligent and has a decent sense of humor.

  • california

    I like the congress people who come on the show. The representative from Washington D.C. was hilarious, and she really held her own against Colbert. I gained new respect for that woman when that segment aired. I think people who turn down the chance are turkey doodoo.

  • Tyler D

    I don’t know why anyone would willingly agree to do a Daily Show or Colbert Report segment. Considering they are in control of the editing, there’s no way to prevent yourself from looking like a complete idiot. Even some of the Daily Show staff admit it’s not in someone’s best interests to appear on the show and they’ve mentioned having interviews cancelled repeated because the sujects finally wise up. I’m pretty sure Colbert will have to end that Better Know a District segment soon, even after the election, because political staffers are probably aware of it by now and participation will decrease. It’s a shame really, since it’s such fertile comic ground.

  • Peggy

    If these politicians people handled themselves as beautifully as the Congresswoman from Detroit did, (Damn, I don’t remember her name), it’s a win-win situation. We need to be reminded that they’re good sports, and they “get” the humor. I’ll never listen to the theme from “Mahogany” quite the same way again.

  • Maggie

    The reason the congressman who joked about cocaine was “lambasted” was because he represented Boca Raton- old, old-fashioned, Grumpy Town, USA.

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