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About (Late) Last Night: Stephen Colbert launches Super Pac, starts accepting donations [Video]

July 1, 2011 |  7:51 am


While his colleague Jon Stewart continues to spar with Fox News, Stephen Colbert has taken on an even bigger, though perhaps less obvious, target: campaign finance law. On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission approved Colbert's bid to form a Super Pac -- that is, a corporate-backed political action committee.

In his typically tongue-in-cheek style, Colbert was making a deadly serious point about the potentially frightening implications of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling last year: Could he, as a television personality, use the vast resources of his deep-pocketed parent company, Viacom, to fund election ads for his preferred candidate?

The FEC handed down a mixed ruling (read about it in greater detail here), but Colbert claimed the decision was a victory -- for him, if not for the country. Standing on the steps outside the FEC, he addressed a crowd of fans who had assembled to hear the verdict.

"Some people have cynically asked, is this some kind of joke? I for one don't think that participating in democracy is a joke. I don't think that wanting to know what the rules are is a joke," Colbert solemnly declared. "But I do have one federal election law joke if you'd like to hear it."

(Warning for the faint of heart: seriously wonky humor ahead)

Colbert: Knock knock.
Crowd: Who's there?
Colbert: Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions.
Crowd: Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions, who?
Colbert: That's the thing — I don't think I should have to tell you.

The host ended his speech on a jubilant note. "I don't know about you, but I do not accept the status quo. But I do accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express."

He then made his way through the crowd, accepting donations using a credit card swiper attached to his iPad, as well as wads of rolled-up cash.

Back at the studio, Colbert expressed his appreciation for his supporters. "I want to thank all those people who swiped their cards in the right slot today. And for those of you who swiped it in the wrong slot, thank you even more."

-- Meredith Blake


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