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Why D.C. Is Scared of Stephen Colbert

The Beltway flipped out over Stephen Colbert's appearance before Congress. No wonder -- he's not afraid to take on the establishment.

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Anyway, it’s difficult to measure what’s trivial in Washington, where politicians like, say, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), regularly trivialize human suffering into homophobic, Islamaphobic, or anti-labor soundbites for political gain. (Gay marriage, says King, is a "purely socialist concept.")At the hearing, King told Colbert that he couldn’t tell from watching him on tape whether he was packing or unpacking corn. Colbert replied, "I was a corn packer. And I know that term is offensive to some people, because corn packer is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan, and I hope I didn’t offend anybody.”  

That was juvenile, but to listen to the Washington press corps, you’d think he’d just put a condom on the Washington Monument or something. Even the NBC guys were ruffled -- Chuck Todd said he was “offended” and couldn’t understand why all the committee members didn’t walk out, while Savannah Guthrie told Brian Williams on the Nightly News that the Dems may have hurt their chances by having a comedian come in and mock the institution they lead just before elections. Yeah, right -- the Dems are going down in defeat in November not because they couldn’t take a popular vote to preserve middle-class tax cuts while nudging rates a smidgen higher for the rich, but because they let Stephen Colbert mock congressional indifference to hardship in America. (As it turns out, even readers voted yes, 62% to 37%, to the question: “Should Stephen Colbert have testified in character before Congress?”)

To see the Beltway media types wrinkle their noses at the rambunctious comic was déjà vu all over again -- that’s exactly how they reacted at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner when Colbert, in character, mocked the George Bush/Dick Cheney torture regime by saying “they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!” Maybe that was juvenile too, but it was also utterly fearless, bearding the malcompetents right in their own den.   

I’ll remember that at Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive, at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. on October 30.

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