Steven Colbert. Speaks at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner as broadcasted on CSPAN.
It’s a half hour. Worth every second of download and watch time.
I hope he’s shaken the press to their senses.
A quote, for you: “I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the “No Fact Zone.” Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.”
(thanks to Jarett for pointing it out to me)
Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s THE COLBERT
REPORT, a spoof of Bill O’Reilly type Fox News
Programming, hosted The White House correspondents’
dinner this year. It’s not unusual for a comedian to
host, though Ray Charles was the entertainment a few
years ago, mostly because Bush didn’t want to hear
jokes. This year he heard a few and here’s Colbert’s
*fucking hilarious* presentation in a complete
transcript. The Prez wasn’t smiling, according to this
“As he walked from the podium the president and First
Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left. [An
attendee] observed that quite a few felt the material
was, perhaps, uncomfortably biting.”
Here you go. Enjoy. – C.
STEPHEN COLBERT: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Before I begin, I’ve been asked to make an
announcement. Whoever parked 14 black bulletproof
S.U.V.’s out front, could you please move them? They
are blocking in 14 other black bulletproof S.U.V.’s
and they need to get out.
Wow. Wow, what an honor. The White House
correspondents’ dinner. To actually sit here, at the
same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this
close to the man. I feel like I’m dreaming. Somebody
pinch me. You know what? I’m a pretty sound sleeper —
that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face.
Is he really not here tonight? Dammit. The one guy who
could have helped.
By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs
anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and
clearly into your table numbers. Somebody from the NSA
will be right over with a cocktail. Mark Smith, ladies
and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady,
Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert and tonight
it’s my privilege to celebrate this president. We’re
not so different, he and I. We get it. We’re not
brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the
factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir?
That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the
gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your
gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I
know some of you are going to say “I did look it up,
and that’s not true.” That’s ’cause you looked it up
in a book.
Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells
me that’s how our nervous system works. Every night on
my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the
gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by
rational argument. I call it the “No Fact Zone.” Fox
News, I hold a copyright on that term.
I’m a simple man with a simple mind. I hold a simple
set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe
in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I
live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic
to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50
states. And I cannot wait to see how the Washington
Post spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy.
I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least
until China figures out a way to stamp it out of
plastic for three cents a unit.
In fact, Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, welcome. Your great
country makes our Happy Meals possible. I said it’s a
celebration. I believe the government that governs
best is the government that governs least. And by
these standards, we have set up a fabulous government
I believe in pulling yourself up by your own
bootstraps. I believe it is possible — I saw this guy
do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And
though I am a committed Christian, I believe that
everyone has the right to their own religion, be you
Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite
paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it’s yogurt. But I
refuse to believe it’s not butter. Most of all, I
believe in this president.
Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this
man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we
don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls
are just a collection of statistics that reflect what
people are thinking in “reality.” And reality has a
well-known liberal bias.
So, Mr. President, please, pay no attention to the
people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the
glass — it’s important to set up your jokes properly,
sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the
glass is half empty, because 32% means it’s 2/3 empty.
There’s still some liquid in that glass is my point,
but I wouldn’t drink it. The last third is usually
backwash. Okay, look, folks, my point is that I don’t
believe this is a low point in this presidency. I
believe it is just a lull before a comeback.
I mean, it’s like the movie “Rocky.” All right. The
president in this case is Rocky Balboa and Apollo
Creed is — everything else in the world. It’s the
tenth round. He’s bloodied. His corner man, Mick, who
in this case I guess would be the vice president, he’s
yelling, “Cut me, Dick, cut me!,” and every time he
falls everyone says, “Stay down! Stay down!” Does he
stay down? No. Like Rocky, he gets back up, and in the
end he — actually, he loses in the first movie.
OK. Doesn’t matter. The point is it is the
heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly
punched in the face. So don’t pay attention to the
approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove
of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does
that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the
job he’s not doing? Think about it. I haven’t.
I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he
stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on
things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and
recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong
message, that no matter what happens to America, she
will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged
photo ops in the world.
Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has
a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you
think he’s down on the ranch cutting that brush all
the time? He’s trying to create an alternative energy
source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite-powered car!
And I just like the guy. He’s a good joe. Obviously
loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls
show America agrees. She’s a true lady and a wonderful
woman. But I just have one beef, ma’am.
I’m sorry, but this reading initiative. I’m sorry,
I’ve never been a fan of books. I don’t trust them.
They’re all fact, no heart. I mean, they’re elitist,
telling us what is or isn’t true, or what did or
didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama
Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built
in 1941, that’s my right as an American! I’m with the
president, let history decide what did or did not
The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You
know where he stands. He believes the same thing
Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what
happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man’s
beliefs never will. As excited as I am to be here with
the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the
liberal media that is destroying America, with the
exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides
of every story: the president’s side, and the vice
But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting
on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern
Europe? Those things are secret for a very important
reason: they’re super-depressing. And if that’s your
goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five
years you people were so good — over tax cuts, WMD
intelligence, the effect of global warming. We
Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the
courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good
times, as far as we knew.
But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it
works: the president makes decisions. He’s the
decider. The press secretary announces those
decisions, and you people of the press type those
decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em
through a spell check and go home. Get to know your
family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel
you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one
about the intrepid Washington reporter with the
courage to stand up to the administration. You know –
Because really, what incentive do these people have to
answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing
satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes.
So the White House has personnel changes. Then you
write, “Oh, they’re just rearranging the deck chairs
on the Titanic.” First of all, that is a terrible
metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This
administration is soaring. If anything, they are
rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!
Now, it’s not all bad guys out there. Some are heroes:
Christopher Buckley, Jeff Sacks, Ken Burns, Bob
Schieffer. They’ve all been on my show. By the way,
Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be on my
show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is, I
promise you. How’s Tuesday for you? I’ve got Frank
Rich, but we can bump him. And I mean bump him. I know
a guy. Say the word.
See who we’ve got here tonight. General Moseley, Air
Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They still support
Rumsfeld. Right, you guys aren’t retired yet, right?
Right, they still support Rumsfeld.
Look, by the way, I’ve got a theory about how to
handle these retired generals causing all this
trouble: don’t let them retire! Come on, we’ve got a
stop-loss program; let’s use it on these guys. I’ve
seen Zinni and that crowd on Wolf Blitzer. If you’re
strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you
can stand on a bank of computers and order men into
battle. Come on.
Jesse Jackson is here, the Reverend. Haven’t heard
from the Reverend in a little while. I had him on the
show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You
can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he
wants, at the pace that he wants. It’s like boxing a
glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your
grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.
Justice Scalia is here. Welcome, sir. May I be the
first to say, you look fantastic. How are you? [After
each sentence, Colbert makes a hand gesture, an
allusion to Scalia’s recent use of an obscene Sicilian
hand gesture in speaking to a reporter about Scalia’s
critics. Scalia is seen laughing hysterically.] Just
talking some Sicilian with my paisan.
John McCain is here. John McCain, John McCain, what a
maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his
salad, because I guarantee you it wasn’t a salad fork.
This guy could have used a spoon! There’s no
predicting him. By the way, Senator McCain, it’s so
wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican
fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me
up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So
glad you’ve seen the light, sir.
Mayor Nagin! Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the
chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I’d
like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate
city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker
crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar, I guess is what
I’m describing, a seasonal cookie.
Joe Wilson is here, Joe Wilson right down here in
front, the most famous husband since Desi Arnaz. And
of course he brought along his lovely wife Valerie
Plame. Oh, my god! Oh, what have I said? [looks
horrified] I am sorry, Mr. President, I meant to say
he brought along his lovely wife Joe Wilson’s wife.
Patrick Fitzgerald is not here tonight? OK. Dodged a
And, of course, we can’t forget the man of the hour,
new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret Service name,
“Snow Job.” Toughest job. What a hero! Took the second
toughest job in government, next to, of course, the
ambassador to Iraq.
Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Big shoes to fill.
Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else.
McClellan, of course, eager to retire. Really felt
like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card’s
children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn’t made the
decision so quickly, sir.
I was vying for the job myself. I think I would have
made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but
contempt for these people. I know how to handle these
clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape
and with your indulgence, I’d like to at least give it
a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.
BEGINNING OF “AUDITION TAPE”
Colbert shows a video of a mock press conference. It
opens with an empty podium. Colbert’s head rises from
behind the podium until Colbert is standing at the
podium. He addresses the assembled Washington press
COLBERT: I have a brief statement: the press is
destroying America. OK, let’s see who we’ve got here
COLBERT (acknowledging various reporters): Stretch!
(David Gregory nods)
Sir Nerdlington! (reporter nods)
Sloppy Joe! (reporter nods)
Terry Lemon Moran Pie! (Terry Moran nods)
Oh, Doubting Thomas, always a pleasure. (Helen Thomas
And Suzanne Mal — hello!!
(Suzanne Malveaux stares at Colbert, looking unhappy.
Colbert mimics putting a phone to his ear and mouths
REPORTER: Will the Vice President be available soon to
answer all questions himself?
COLBERT: I’ve already addressed that question. You
(pointing to another reporter).
REPORTER: Walter Cronkite, the noted CBS anchor, . . .
COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, no, he’s the former CBS
anchor. Katie Couric is the new anchor of the CBS
Evening News. Well, well, how do you guys feel about
You, tousle-haired guy in the back. Are you happy
about Katie Couric taking over the CBS Evening News?
DAN RATHER: No, sir, Mr. Colbert. Are you? (Laughter)
COLBERT: Boom! Oh, look, we woke David Gregory up.
DAVID GREGORY: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?
COLBERT: I don’t know. I’ll ask him.
(Colbert turns to Rove) Karl, pay attention please!
(Rove is seen drawing a heart with “Karl + Stephen”
written on it.)
GREGORY: Do you stand by your statement from the fall
of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl,
and Elliott Abrams, and Scooter Libby, and you said
“I’ve gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have
told me that they are not involved in this.” Do you
stand by that statement?
COLBERT: Nah, I was just kidding!
GREGORY: No, you’re not finishing. You’re not saying
anything! You stood at that podium and said . . .
COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, that’s where you’re wrong.
New podium! Just had it delivered today. Get your
facts straight, David.
GREGORY: This is ridiculous. The notion that you’re
going to stand before us after having commented with
that level of detail and tell the people watching this
that somehow you’ve decided not to talk. You’ve got to
. . .
(Colbert is seen looking at three buttons on the
podium, labeled “EJECT,” “GANNON” and “VOLUME.” He
selects the “VOLUME” button and turns it. We see
Gregory’s lips continue moving, but can’t hear any
sound coming out.)
COLBERT: If I can’t hear you, I can’t answer your
question. I’m sorry! I have to move on. Terry.
TERRY MORAN: After the investigation began, after the
criminal investigation was underway, you said . . .
(Colbert presses a button on the podium and
fast-forwards through most of Moran’s question.)
MORAN (continuing): All of a sudden, you have respect
for the sanctity of a criminal investigation?
COLBERT (seen playing with rubber ball, which he is
bouncing off attached paddle): No, I never had any
respect for the sanctity of a criminal investigation.
Activist judges! Yes, Helen.
HELEN THOMAS: You’re going to be sorry. (Laughter)
COLBERT (looking vastly amused, mockingly): What are
you going to do, Helen, ask me for a recipe?
THOMAS: Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the
deaths of thousands (Colbert’s smile fades) of
Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis
for a lifetime.
COLBERT (interrupting): OK, hold on Helen, look . . .
THOMAS (continuing): Every reason given, publicly at
least, has turned out not to be true. My question is
why did you really want to go to war?
COLBERT (again interrupting): Helen, I’m going to stop
you right there. (Thomas keeps talking.) That’s
enough! No! Sorry, Helen, I’m moving on. (Colbert
tries to turn her volume off, but the knob falls off
(Various reporters start shouting questions at
COLBERT (agitated): Guys, guys, please don’t let Helen
do this to what was a lovely day.
(Reporters keep shouting at him.)
COLBERT (putting his fingers over his ears and
shouting in a high-pitched voice): Bllrrtt! No, no,
no, no, no. I’m not listening to you!
Look what you did, Helen! I hate you!
(Helen Thomas glowers at Colbert.)
COLBERT (frantic): I’m out of here!
(Colbert pulls back the curtain behind him,
desperately trying to flee. He says, “There is a wall
here!” The press corps laughs. Colbert has difficulty
finding a door from which to exit the room, echoing
Bush’s experience in China. He finally finds the door
and hurries through it.)
COLBERT: It reeks in there! Ridiculous! I’ve never
been so insulted in my life! Stupid job.
(Colbert continues walking away. We hear
sinister-sounding music playing. We see Helen Thomas
walking behind Colbert.)
(Colbert looks behind him, sees Thomas, and starts
(Colbert trips over a roller skate, and yells “Condi!”
We see a close-up of Helen Thomas’ face, looking
determined and angry. Colbert, increasingly panicked,
gets up and continues running, running into a parking
garage. He reaches an emergency call box, and yells
COLBERT: Oh, thank God. Help me!
ATTENDANT: What seems to be the problem, sir?
COLBERT: She won’t stop asking why we invaded Iraq!
ATTENDANT: Hey, why did we invade Iraq?
COLBERT: NO!!! (runs toward his car)
(We see Helen Thomas, still walking toward him.)
(Colbert reaches his car, and fumblingly attempts to
open it with his key. He is in such a desperate hurry
that he fumbles with the keys and drops them. When he
picks them up, he looks back and Helen is even closer.
In his frantic rush, Colbert just can’t get the keys
into the lock.)
(Just as his anxiety is getting completely out of
control he suddenly remembers that he has a keyless
remote — so he just pushes the button on the keychain
and the car unlocks immediately with the usual double
squeak noise. Colbert jumps in and locks the door, and
continues to fumble trying to get the car started. He
finally succeeds, and looks up to see Helen standing
in front of the car, notepad in hand.)
COLBERT: NO!!! NO!!!
(Colbert puts the car into reverse and drives off,
tires squealing. Thomas smiles.)
(Colbert is shown taking the shuttle from Washington,
D.C. to New York. A car and driver are waiting for him
at Penn Station. The uniformed man standing alongside
the car opens the door and lets Colbert in.)
COLBERT: What a terrible trip, Danny. Take me home.
(The driver locks the doors, turns around, and says,
“Buckle up, hon.” IT’S HELEN THOMAS!!!)
COLBERT (horrified face pressed against car window):
END OF “AUDITION TAPE”
STEPHEN COLBERT: Helen Thomas, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Smith, members of the White House Correspondents
Association, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, it’s
been a true honor. Thank you very much. Good night!
Transcript thanks to Chris in SLC.