Late Night: Colbert says super PACs are 'publicly buying democracy'
Stephen Colbert continued his one-man crusade against "super PACs" on Thursday night with an ironic salute to 22 of their biggest backers.
Tuesday was the deadline for presidential super PACs to disclose their donors to the Federal Election Commission, and the reports underscored the increasingly influential role of money in electoral politics.
"To all the worrywarts out there who said that super PACs were going to lead to a cabal of billionaires secretly buying democracy: Wrong. They are publicly buying democracy," Colbert (sort of) joked.
As he explained, approximately half of all super PAC money -- some $67 million dollars -- came from just 22 donors.
"I am sure that the good government goo-goos out there are saying this is just handing all the power to the 1% when in fact 22 people in a population of 300 million: That’s 7 one-millionths of 1 percent," Colbert said, tapping away on his trusty calculator until it spewed smoke. "So Occupy Wall Street, you’re going to want to change those signs."
Colbert insisted that there was nothing alarming about this statistic: "This is what the Supreme Court intended with their Citizens United ruling: Twenty-two billionaires deciding who our next leader would be. I’m sure it’s the way that the 22 billionaires who chose our Founding Fathers would want it."
He then cut to a patriotic montage, set to Romney's tin-eared rendition of "America the Beautiful," of the "22 people selecting our next president." (Of course, by "people," Colbert means both actual humans and corporations.)
"Join me in honoring these 22 patriots who have given so much, and expect so much in return," he said.
Later in the show, Colbert also boasted about his own super PAC's fundraising haul of more that $1 million collected from 31,595 inviduals and/or corporations. It doesn't take a high-powered calculator to realize that Colbert's group is financed almost entirely through small donations. In fact, some 1,600 people gave a dollar each, prompting Colbert to joke, "You folks gave until it hurt, and evidently some of you have a very low threshold for pain."
Best of all? If you search the term "super PAC" on Google, Colbert Super PAC is now the second and third result. Colbert was thrilled by the news, but he has not yet given up the fight. "I want the Google recognition of a Santorum," he announced.
Looks like he's well on his way.
— Meredith Blake
Photo: Stephen Colbert in January as he ran for "president of the United States of South Carolina." Credit: Richard Ellis / Getty Images.