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Stephen Colbert, Jeff Goldblum join PETA in condemning Obama's fly swat

June 19, 2009 |  9:24 pm

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When President Obama killed a pesky flyduring an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, we doubt the leader of the free world expected it to become the focus of scrutiny approaching the intensity that once surrounded his Hawaiian birth certificate.

Obama's reflexes proved lightning-fast as he swatted the insect ("It's like he's got one of those fly Terminator targeting systems in his eyes," Jon Stewart noted), and as CNBC's camera panned to the dead fly on the floor, the president said, "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."

Many gossipers -- notably TMZ -- reported that PETA had condemned Obama's action.  (For our part, we found the animal rights group's initial response notable only for its uncharacteristic subtlety.  "He isn't the Buddha, he's a human being, and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act," PETA blogger Alisa Mullins wrote.  Of course, PETA didn't miss an opportunity to send Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that uses a trapdoor to capture insects without killing them.)

As the story escalated, PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich waded into the fray, escalating the rhetoric by referring to the incident as an "execution."  Friedrich told Reuters that PETA members "believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals." [Correction: Friedrich notes that the reference to an "execution" was not his own, but rather was written by another PETA staffer on the blog The PETA Files.  He told Unleashed in an email that the "execution" comment "was typed in jest, as I think is clear in context."]

Now even faux-conservative funnyman Stephen Colbert has gotten in on the act, recording a special "Colbert Report" segment in which he bemoans Obama's "shocking abuse of executive power" in killing the fly.  Even The Flyhimself, Jeff Goldblum, joins in, calling on the president to "apologize for this brutal act of violence" and suggesting that he could also apologize to Gov. Sarah Palin on David Letterman's behalf while he's at it.  "There can never be enough apologies," he quips.

The ever-pithy Jezebel blog, noting that another fly was spotted during an interview on one of former Vice President Dick Cheney's final days in office, is suspicious about the fly that dogged Obama. 

"Clearly the initial flies were emitted by Dick Cheney himself and are now breeding an army of tiny minions to undermine Obama," Jezebel staffer Anna North writes.  "Cheney-flies, unfortunately, fear neither cleanliness nor vodka, but they may give up their secrets if waterboarded."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: ColbertNation.com

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