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Colbert Raises Cain | The Nation

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Leslie Savan

Politics, media and the politics of media.

Colbert Raises Cain

Stephen Colbert, the all-but-declared candidate for the president of the United States of South Carolina, and Jon Stewart, the man in charge of the Colbert Super PAC, are not technically, legally, or otherwise coordinating campaign plans—as they stated at one point in perfect unison last night. But in a frenzy of non-coordinatism, these two citizens united to get Stephen on the SC ballot, even though the ballots have already been printed and write-ins aren’t permitted. How? By running an ad equating a vote for Herman Cain, who dropped out of the race in last month but is still on the ballot, as a vote for Stephen Colbert.

Here’s how it went down on Tuesday’s Daily Show:

 

And here’s the Colbert=Cain=America ad in full:

 

It’s only fitting that Cain, whom Rachael Maddow earlier revealed as not a candidate but a brilliant performance artist, play host to performance artist Colbert’s frankly parasitic campaign. After all, the comedic Republican primary, with its clown car full of jokesters (from Romney saying that the $374,000 he made in speakers fees last year is “not very much” to Gingrich’s blowing audible racist dog whistles during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day debate) is as funny as anything out of Comedy Central.

Now, to top it all off, Herman Cain will appear with Colbert in South Carolina on Friday to tape a segment for The Colbert Report. “On Stephen Colbert’s endorsement of himself as Herman Cain, I find it very clever and humorous, as it should be,” Cain told Fox411. “Anyone who finds what Mr. Colbert is doing offensive, should simply lighten up. To be perfectly clear, I will not be assuming Stephen Colbert's identity. We are very different when it comes to the color of our—hair.”

It looks like Cain will finally get his Colbert bump, and vice versa. Cain was in on the joke, according to his spokesperson, Kathy Hoekstra, who told Fox, “Colbert’s people got in touch with us late last week…. The endorsement of course comes as a pleasant surprise.”

But wait a minute. I hate to break up the party, but after watching the Cain ad again, I’m beginning to think that Colbert may have finally outsmarted himself. Did you notice that at about twenty seconds into the spot the announcer cites Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow—Colbert’s former PAC!—and at the end identifies it as “responsible for the content of this advertising”? Legally, the ad was supposed to have come from Stewart’s PAC, The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC. Unless the Tomorrow, Tomorrow references were bloopers on the announcer’s part (and, really, who bloops twice?), then they appear to be in direct violation of federal law!  

My prediction: Colbert planned it that way. The idea is that if Cain (i.e., Colbert) performs poorly in Saturday’s primary, all Colbert has to do is blame his ever-faithful production assistant “Jimmy” for making him look illegal, or at least terribly sloppy. And next thing you know, Colbert will pull out of the race to spend more time with Sweetness, his gun.

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