Since the election cycle started, I don’t think I’m the only one who slowly tuned out the heavy satire of Colbert, and switched back over to The Daily Show for my dose of fake news. Things have gotten pretty easy for the editors of TDS, who’ve just been splicing together the best of the McCain campaign’s schizophrenia for the better part of two months. There was a time though, somewhere in the middle of Bush’s second term, when Colbert was outwitting Stewart regularly. The climax had to be Colbert deadpanning to a DC audience, a baffled Bush just ten feet away (“This administration isn’t sinking! It’s soaring. The President isn’t rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, he’s reshuffling deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”) The lefties, the liberals, and the other 70% of disgruntled Amrikans were so beside themselves, that Democracy Now, rather than doling out the news, just replayed that speech over and over for a day. It was the one small thing we had. Ever since the Kerry KO, the Republicans had been spending their political capital to roll back the welfare state, keep the war alive, and clown the opposition as a bunch of whinging pantywaists. Jon Stewart’s face was frozen into a permanent WTF. But Colbert was swimming into the belly of the whale, sharp as a squid beak. He was the master of the immanent critique, outbushing Bush, out-riling O’reilly, and for the coagulating funk of American disillusionment, he provided a small poot of relief.
Since the primaries ended, though, things have been different. The Hope Caravan is outpacing the Straight Talk Express. Stewart and gang are the ones hobnobbing with the heads of state – Clinton, Obama*, even Blair, in probably the most cringeworthy Daily Show appearance ever. Meanwhile, Colbert’s muse is hiding somewhere, cutting brush. Cheney is elusive as ever. Condi Rice is interviewing for the Niners. In fact, tonight, after watching a pretty stilted interview with Obama on TDS, I only stuck around for the Report when hearing that The Wire‘s David Simon was gonna be on air.
Homeboy still has it. TV’s greatest tragedian seemed positively awed by Colbert’s off-the-cuff abuse. And the night ended, with not only the best use of The Wire to illustrate a political analogy since this, but the best dig on Limbaugh’s dumbass “Obama Hood” metaphor. “So, Omar Little is sort of like Robin Hood, taking from the rich giving to the poor. Stealing from ‘Joe the Drug Dealer.’ Shouldn’t Joe the Drug Dealer get to spread his wealth however he chooses?” That dude is so quick, I’m not sure who he’s satirizing anymore.