Last night Stephen Colbert did a funny bit on how Tea Partiers should act like “union goons” and do horrible things to puppies in order to turn the public against pro-union protesters in Wisconsin. Colbert was inspired not by Gov. Scott Walker (who told a fake David Koch that he didn’t plant troublemakers in the protests only because it might backfire politically), but by the non-fake former head of the Tea Party Express, who expressly advised people to fake it as “greedy and goonish” union stereotypes. So, after donning a “Union Goon” baseball cap and a “bada-bing-bada-cheddar-cheese” attitude, Colbert pretends to shove a live puppie into a wood chipper. The audience shrieks, but at the end Stephen holds up the intact doggie and says, “By the way, no animals were hurt in the crushing of these unions.”
It was a great bit, but it also seemed to be a (sly? apologetic?) comment on how, for the previous night’s Daily Show, one very large animal was hurt in the spoofing of these unions.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s what happened: The Daily Show brought a camel to Madison to help John Oliver poke fun at people who’ve compared the protests in Wisconsin to those in Egypt. Any such parallels, Stewart has been insisting all week, are indulgent and exaggerated.
The only problem was Stewart’s indulgent use of a camel to make such an exaggerated point. Not used to the cold, slushy streets, the camel slipped and was hurt in the process. Even less funny was Oliver telling a blogger who was recording the scene to stop taping; Oliver even momentarily blocked the guy’s camera.
Stewart’s too-clever-by-half stunt has been criticized by PETA, his fans and others. But he didn’t mention the incident the night the skit ran (sans camel), or last night. If he ignores it again tonight, that will leave only Colbert’s enigmatic puppy statement to clean up after Stewart’s stupid animal trick.
And in related events, Greg Sargent finds that none of the networks have so far booked a single labor official for this Sunday’s talk shows—even though self-crowned anti-union king Chris Christie will appear on CBS’s Face the Nation. Getting labor to appear regularly, or even occasionally, on corporate TV’s coverage of labor conflicts may be like passing a camel through the eye of a needle.
NBC has announced that AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka will be part of a Meet the Press roundtable.