Supreme Court

The Joke Is on Stephen Colbert

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Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Steve Simpson and Paul Sherman of the Institute for Justice explain how Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert inadvertently illustrated the ridiculous nature of campaign finance regulations:

Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert, like most of his friends and allies on the left, thinks that last year's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC is, literally, ridiculous. To make his case that the ruling invites "unlimited corporate money" to dominate politics, Mr. Colbert decided to set up a political action committee (PAC) of his own. So far, though, the joke's been on him….

Campaign-finance laws are so complicated that few can navigate them successfully and speak during elections—which is what the First Amendment is supposed to protect. As the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United, federal laws have created "71 distinct entities" that "are subject to different rules for 33 different types of political speech." The FEC has adopted 568 pages of regulations and thousands of pages of explanations and opinions on what the laws mean. "Legalese" doesn't begin to describe this mess.

So what is someone who wants to speak during elections to do? If you're Stephen Colbert, the answer is to instruct high-priced attorneys to plead your case with the FEC: Last Friday, he filed a formal request with the FEC for a "media exemption" that would allow him to publicize his Super PAC on air without creating legal headaches for Viacom.

How's that for a punch line? Rich and successful television personality needs powerful corporate lawyers to convince the FEC to allow him to continue making fun of the Supreme Court. Hilarious.

Read the whole thing here. Watch Reason.tv's "3 Reasons Not to Sweat the Citizens United SCOTUS Ruling" below.

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  1. Is Colbert still funny? I stopped watching his show around Jan 2009.

    1. No. He has come to actually believe that he’s as super awesome as he was pretending to think he was (sorry if that’s a little complicated), and he’s quite pompous now (for real, not faked). The fame has, unsurprisingly, gone to his head.

      However, I must admit that his bit about learning manners from some limey for the royal wedding was a hoot.

      1. he’s quite pompous now (for real, not faked).

        How would you know? He’s always in character, far as I can tell. So, how do you tell whether the apparently real pomposity is faked?

        1. It’s actually pretty easy. The conservative pomposity is from his character, the liberal pomposity is from the man himself.

    2. Is Colbert still funny?

      Was he ever funny? Both he and John Stewart fall into that category of guys who try way too hard to be funny.

      1. Actually, both Colbert and Stewart lately have been able to make me laugh so hard I’ve had tears rolling down.

        Stewart imitating Beck was OMG hilarious.

        They got a lot funnier once they decided they had to go after some Democrats for being asses, too.

      2. I was laughing for days after seeing his performance at the 2005 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. You know, back when they made jokes at the president’s expense instead of only at his opponents’.

    3. I stopped watching him when he defended these raids.
      http://www.colbertnation.com/t…..foods-raid
      I linked to it on a thread yesterday and some people told me I had read to far into it but i watched again and it still seems like he had no problem with what the FDA did. You tell me.

  2. Last Friday, he filed a formal request with the FEC for a “media exemption”

    Not just anybody should be allowed to speak truth to power.

  3. I never thought he was funny.

    1. In this case he got a laugh out of me.

    2. Some of his material was OK. Probably because he has good writers:

      “And feminist author (name) is here. I’ll explain to her why a woman needs a man like a fish needs to be cooked up and served to me for dinner by a woman on a bicycle.”

    3. “Some people say that your administration is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, Mr President. But this administration isn’t sinking, it’s soaring! If anything, it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.”

      Guess which side of 1/20/2009 he made that joke on.

  4. Hey at least we can still speak our minds in our own homes! We can make fun of O-bomb-a’s big ears without fear of arrest and prosecution! Unless, of course, a horizontally challenged officer of the law happens to be ambling by and overhears our discourse. Am I right??

      1. Right Reich as reign.

        1. Reich Judenrein.

  5. Holy fuck, are these FEC regulations a barrier to First Amendment liberties? My apologies for acting like a smug, liberal douche when I was mocking the “Citizens United” case.

    1. Yes, we’ll be hearing that very soon.

      1. I’m sure that even if he read the article he wouldn’t get it.

      2. Seriously, I mean good-fucking-grief. It never occurred to me that the fact that corporations have free speech rights doesn’t negate the fact that citizens have many other avenues of information and the responsibility to weigh the information and make an informed decision at the voting booth.

    2. “smug, liberal douche”

      Is there any other kind of liberal?

      Leftist smirking is pretty much all that people like Jon Stewart, Colbert and Bill Maher do.

      1. A new way to judge how liberal someone is:

        John Stewart: capable of honest discourse
        Stephen Colbert: self-important and kooky
        Bill Maher: bat-shit insane

        1. It’s like color coding for terrorist threat levels.

          1. We don’t do that anymore.

        2. Those are good levels. But I think people like Pauli Krugnuts and crazy Ed Shultz probably need an extended scale.

          1. Doesn’t “Our knobs go to 11” cover it?

        3. I don’t know, bat-shit insane has a little too much heft and substance for a lightweight like Maher. He always seems like the very definition of a smug dorm room Democrat to me. Someone who never developed beyond the smart-ass-17 year-old stage.

        4. Wrong. Bat-shit insane is actually entertaining.

        5. I enjoyed Religulous, especially when he got that tool from Arkansas to put his foot in is own mouth. I’m going to run against him and just use that scene as a campaign ad.

          1. Religulous was just a cheap dumbed down copy of “the God Delusion” by Dawkins. Maher is constantly “taking the piss” trying to pass himself off as a big time intellectual and he needs to just accept that he’s not all that fucking smart.

      2. there is the “aging liberal hippie douche” as portrayed in SouthPark

    3. This proves you don’t know wtf your talking about. Colbert tried to USE Citizens United to allow Viacom to legally “donate” airtime to his SuperPAC.

  6. Stephen Colbert is a freak-eared tool.

  7. I like Colbert. I think all this Colbert-bashing is why you guys never get invited to the cool kids table at lunch. Sure he can be a tool, but examples like this one show why that’s a good thing.

    Also, he taught me that polar bears are godless killing machines that will eat any greenie that dare try and save them.

  8. I’m a stupid moron with an ugly face and big butt and my butt smells and I like to kiss my own butt.

    1. stupid joke names, that’s robc I can tell!

      1. Nope, misused the comma again.

    2. As always, whenever something really weird happens, we say, “it’s good that you did that, Bart.”

  9. Is Colbert still funny?

    I’m certainly laughing at him, if that counts.

    1. What is sad is that all of Colbert’s outrage over this stems from a kind of “don’t you know who I am” sense of entitlement. No way will this cause even a moment of self reflection.

      1. “I need special permission to circumvent these impossible to penetrate rules in order to mock how flimsy these rules are! Get it?”

      2. thought the attitude was the character “Stephen Colbert” but maybe he can’t tell the difference anymore.

      3. What’s really sad is that he just didn’t drop this exercise once he ran into problems and pretend it never happened. No one would have noticed, but now he’s made a fool of himself.

      4. Have you even seen the shows concerning this? He’s not outraged, he’s milking it for comedic effect. The “media exemption” isn’t for him, it’s for Viacom. All it says is that if Colbert talks about his own PAC on his own show the air time won’t be considered a donation by Viacom to the PAC. That’s it, it’s really simple and not some huge important issue.

        1. The “media exemption” isn’t for him, it’s for Viacom.

          Sort of like the permission slip you sign to let your kid go on the zoo field trip isn’t for your kid, it’s for the school.

          Of course if you don’t sign it your kid is barred from going to the zoo, so it really is for your kid…but I guess you want us to ignore that technicality.

          1. No it’s nothing like that. That is the most retarded metaphor I’ve ever heard.

  10. Rich people are the niggers of the world.

  11. Threadjack: http://www.theonion.com/articl…..sue,20486/

    Pretty much describes me.

  12. What the hell kind of aristocratic society are we living in when you have to ask the government permission to say, “The king is a fink,” and the government picks and chooses who gets that permission?

    1. Welcome to the progressive world of positive rights.

    2. You can say it, you just can’t use TV or radio or newspapers or pornography to say it.

  13. Stephen Colbert’s Guide to Making Fun of Citizen’s United Case:

    1. Assemble hoist.
    2. Attach own petard.
    3. Hoist petard to desired altitude.

    1. /pedant alert

      a petard was a fairly unstable grenade/bomb used circa the 16th century not a crane or other lifting device. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petard

      1. Ahhh.

        Thank you, good sir. I am enlightened.

  14. You humorless right-wing cultist fucks can no more appreciate Stephen Colbert than a repressed nun could appreciate a dildo. Fucking morons.

    1. Ha.

      Ha.

      HA!

  15. This is my last post, go suck “Ron Pual’s cock”, etc.

    1. “Go suck RuPaul’s cock.”?

  16. These tools don’t come anywhere near getting the story right. Colbert wanted to set up a PAC so people would send him money that he could use for whatever ridiculous reason he wanted. His employer Viacom was worried that they may get in trouble with the FEC for an “in kind” donation to the PAC, which would be illegal, by letting Colbert plug it on his show. Colbert countered by making it a Super PAC which is allowed to take corporate donations vis a vis “Citizen’s United”. Viacom was still worried that if the use of the show to plug the PAC was viewed as a donation they may be exposed to having their books audited by the FEC. Colbert countered again by asking for a “media exemption” which allows members of the media, say someone like Karl Rove on Fox, plug their personal PACs on their employers networks in the course of their work. So basically the FEC (government) had no problem whatsoever with what Colbert was doing. It was Viacom who had the problem. In reality he isn’t trying to screw with the election laws he’s trying as hard as he can to screw with his employer, and that’s some funny shit.

    1. Yes, the FEC treats the speech of media corporations special, which is what the Left and Colbert wants to have happen.

      The Citizens United case wanted everyone to have that same right to free speech, but Colbert opposes that. He thinks that only people like him should have free speech.

      I welcome him exercising his right to free speech, I just wish he’d support it for other people.

      1. Are you retarded? Read my post again. Colbert isn’t trying to stifle anyone. Viacom is trying to stifle Colbert. He’s trying to get around his employers objections. He’s doing that by trying to get the FEC to decouple his SuperPAC from Viacom. He’s only doing all of this so he can talk about his SuperPAC on his show. If the FEC denies his exemption he can still have his PAC, he just won’t be able to talk about on air. Not because the FEC has a problem, but because Viacom does.

        1. By arguing against Citizens United and for speech-squelching campaign finance laws, Colbert is indeed trying to stifle the speech of others.

          If the FEC denies his exemption he can still have his PAC, he just won’t be able to talk about on air.

          Not being able to solicit donations for your PAC kind of defeats the purpose, no? And Viacom isn’t “stifling” him because they’re a bunch of meanies, they’re doing it because they have reason to fear government penalties. You can’t decouple Viacom’s restrictions on Colbert from the FEC’s restrictions on Viacom.

          1. OMG! You people seriously can’t be this stupid. Have you even watched the segments from Colbert about this? Because you don’t know wtf your talking about. Colbert is on no way shape or form arguing against Citizens United. He tried to USE Citizens United to allow Viacom to “donate” air time for him to talk about his PAC. Did you even read the segment of the article above?

            “Last Friday, he filed a formal request with the FEC for a “media exemption” that would allow him to publicize his Super PAC on air without creating legal headaches for Viacom.”

            This has nothing to do with the speech of others. It’s just so, as I made clear above, he can talk about his OWN PAC on his OWN show! In addition even if the exemption is not granted he could still solicit donations by other means, the internet, other tv shows, radio etc., just not on his show. Viacom isn’t facing ANY government penalties either. Citizens United ALLOWS corporations to donate unlimited amounts to SuperPACs which is what Colbert has set up. There are no FEC restrictions on Viacom. They just don’t want to do it because they may have to reveal financial details of their business. That’s it.

            1. I don’t watch Colbert as I don’t have cable. But unless he’s completely changed the basis of his show, I’m pretty sure that whatever he explicitly advocates while in-character is the opposite of what he’s really advocating, and this is how the audience interprets it. It’s called satire.

              There are no FEC restrictions on Viacom. They just don’t want to do it because they may have to reveal financial details of their business.

              Speaking of not possibly being this stupid…

              1. You don’t even watch nor have cable yet you pretend to know what the hell is going on. Colbert is actually more of an absurdist. Whatever is the big story he takes it to it’s illogical extreme. As for Viacom potentially exposing their finances to scrutiny that’s not a restriction, that’s a requirement. The FEC won’t stop them from giving as much as they want to Colbert’s SuperPAC. As I’ve said three times Viacom just doesn’t want to chance the exposure. Colbert originally started with just a regular PAC which can’t take corporate donations so there is no way anyone can make the argument the intent had anything to do with Citizens United. Why don’t you try watching the rest of the story on Colbertnation before you make anymore idiotic statements.

                http://www.colbertnation.com/t…..-pac-dream

          2. Are you sure watch Stephen Colbert, Ice Tray?

            Colbert on Citizens United in 2009

            1. For one thing he says corporations can give unlimited amounts to candidates which is completely untrue. They can spend unlimited amounts to promote a candidate as long as they do it without the candidates participation or permission.

    2. So basically the FEC (government) had no problem whatsoever with what Colbert was doing.

      Of course they don’t. Not sure if the same would be true if we were talking about Sean Hannity starting a SuperPAC and talking about it on his TV show.

      1. Doesn’t everybody have a problem with Sean Hannity on basic principle?

  17. Now that you’ve explained how simple it really is, those F E C regulations make sense tome……….

  18. To echo, this article simplifies/skews/distorts through selective telling of elements of a story. Shame on it and the staff of this shitty periodical.

  19. Colbert does a bunch of idiotic obvious humor. Its like there’s no minimum quality on the joke he will tell. Ofcourse he can be really funny but there’s a ton of shitty jokes mixed in.

    1. That’s the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.

  20. The video “reasons” are basically, “well, it already happens so therefore, you shouldn’t fear more of it.” That’s a fail.

    And the “you can’t have too much speech” argument is flawed. Sorry, a Microsoft statement on politics isn’t an expression of “free speech”. Free speech is an act of individualism (or a unanimous group of individuals)…not a corporation. When Microsoft speaks, they do not represent a unified group of individuals. They represent the few in the corporation who have the power to control the message.

    But hey, the problem already exists so there’s no reason to fear making the problem even worse, right? Jeezuz.

    1. Since you’re clearly so enlightened as to see past Microsoft’s machinations they why do you have a problem with this? From what I understand, full disclosure is required for those that put out an ad. If you care about politics you should do your homewokr and see who’s funding the PACs behind the ads.

      Apparently you think people are so stupid that you need to rescue them (typical statist Messiah complex).

      1. Those who don’t do their homework should not be given an answer sheet by corporations.

        1. If you don’t want to inform yourself then guess what? That’s YOUR problem, not mine and not the government’s.

          But hey, you are of course free to spread the word as you see fit, what with that First Amendment and all.

          1. Tough for me to spread any word when another has the advantage of using the voices and money of others under a corporate label. Or wait…do you think all Microsoft employees and shareholders actually agree with all political desires of the corporation?

            And guess what, when I’m not informed, it’s a problem for all of us, not just me. But I do find your each-and-every-person-for-themselves argument cute, even if it is naive.

            1. Or wait…do you think all Microsoft employees and shareholders actually agree with all political desires of the corporation?

              The shareholders ARE the corporation. If they don’t like what the corporate leadership is doing they can fire them.

              1. Shareholders don’t, and more importantly we must realize, won’t.

                Funny you didn’t suggest that corporate employees are all free to all walk away from their jobs if they don’t like it. Why not? It’s just as absurd a solution as expecting shareholders to take responsibility.

                The fellow above thinks that the mess this all causes is only a problem for the shareholder/employee.

    2. When Microsoft speaks, they do not represent a unified group of individuals. They represent the few in the corporation who have the power to control the message.

      So you’re against freedom of the press for corporate-owned newspapers, too?

      1. Yes. I think any opinion article should be tied to individual voices. So for instance, Steve Ballmer should be free to write whatever he wants in a newspaper and should be free to pay the newspaper millions to get to do so…if he so wishes. But Microsoft should not be allowed to.

  21. The fact that Nick didn’t offer any reason to support the Citizens United ruling but rather, offered reasons not to be too worried, is telling in itself.

  22. Using my own equipment I made a one minute ad intended for radio to support RP’s campaign back in 2007. My plan with to shell out a couple hundred and run it on my local radio station for the primary in my state. Never did it because I got all panicky about getting into trouble, which I don’t doubt was a serious consideration. When a nobody like me has to be afraid to spend $200.00 bucks of his own money to support the candidate of his choice, independently, there is something seriously wrong. To talk about liberty in a country where doing what I describe above might well be considered a crime is absurd. Here’s the ad on my soundclick page if you’d like to hear it and tell me how stupid it is. It’s at the top of this linked page. This time around I’m doing a youtube.

  23. forgot the link

    http://www.soundclick.com/band…..tent=music

  24. 71 distinct entities” that “are subject to different rules for 33 different types of political speech.

    Everyone is classified in terms pertaining to a specific ‘entity’. That is nothing short of evil because I am not an ‘entity’, I am a human being.

    I’m not a means to someone else’s ends. If it means so much to you to make my choices for me then you should wholeheartedly be willing to take my place when it is my turn to die.

    Anything less committed than that means you are merely a child playing with toys who should have never been vested with power in the first place.

  25. I don’t get how WSJ and reason can frame this in a way that makes Colbert look naive or wrong in any way. He set out to prove that well-connected people and corporations with lots of money can influence elections in ways that the common man could only dream of. Everything that the WSJ cites seems to support the thrust of the argument he’s making with this stunt.

    1. It seems to suggests that regulations are the reason that well-connected people and corporations with lots of money can influence elections in ways that the common man could only dream of, since the common man can’t afford a lawyer to help him get permission to exercise his basic rights.

      Apparently, when the corrupt, bought-off corporate lackeys in Congress passed the CFR bill(s), the net result was to give corporations and their establishmentarian servants an advantage in political speech. Shocking, I know.

  26. Leave Colbert alone. He’s just a comedian. At least he’s not serious when he makes his comments. A trait that can’t be attributed to most idiots: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/…..bin-laden/

  27. Sorry, but last night’s reading of Newt Gingrich’s press release by John Lithgow was epically hilarious.

  28. Freebird!

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