Congress Doesn’t Think It’s Such a Good Idea to Go on the Colbert Show Anymore

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Do not mistake his impish behavior for kindness. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It took about five years, but Congress is finally wising up to this Stephen Colbert character. And it's starting to occur to them that he might not have their best interests at heart. The group realization coalesced right around his recent congressional testimony. (It was probably the "corn-packer" coinage that tipped them off.) Spokesmen for both House campaign committees are advising their candidates that there are better ways to get publicity than appearing on Colbert. This has emboldened some congressional aides to admit to years of misgivings symptoms. “My experience with that show is like herpes. It never goes away, and it itches and sometimes flares up,” said a former aide to Representative Lynn Westmoreland, referring to the time the conservative Georgia Republican appeared on the segment "Better Know a District," about a bill requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed in Congress. Westmoreland could only name three.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did some undercover investigative work, so she says she's been hip to the threat for a while now: “I watch it all the time, and I think, ‘Why would anybody go on there?’” But others have not been so lucky.

Some did not realize what Colbert's real mission was:


“I have done many comedic interviews, but I did not appreciate his humor,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told POLITICO, after being teased about being gay during his segment. “I did not understand that his mission was to make every politician look ridiculous. ... If I had a chance to do it again, I would only do it live.”

Others thought they could best the comedian at his own game:


“I had to tell [my boss], ‘no,’” said one Republican House aide. “He kept pushing back. He thinks he’s funny enough. But I said, ‘No, you don’t understand. They will edit it to make you look stupid.’”

The best strategy when dealing with Colbert, it seems, is knowing when to say no:


“It worked out fine for me,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), whose “Better Know a District” segment featured the congressman impersonating a robot and a lengthy piece on his district’s thriving porn industry. “But he suggested to me that I do this or that, which if I had done, would have shortened considerably the life span of my political career.” Among those things? Eating a slice of pizza in a homoerotic porn spoof.

Congress cools on Colbert [Politico]