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Episode 4125

“It’s snowing on Mars, so the following schools are closed: Microbe Academy, Bleep-blorp Elementary and St. Theresa’s Blessed Crater. This is The Colbert Report!”

Vice Squad: “Tonight! A debate between candidates for the most powerful office in the land: Dick Cheney’s.”

  • Vice Presidential Debate prediction
  • Stephen shoots an audience member a former lover to distract the media from Sarah Palin
  • First guest: Shakespearean expert Stephen Greenblatt, to discuss McCain’s and Obama’s Shakespearean counterparts

House of Payin’: “Then: Should the House approve the financial bailout? Or should they just drill for oil on Wall Street?”

  • Formidable Opponent: The $700 billion plan to cure “business syphilis”

Eine Klein Interview: “And: My guest Naomi Klein says Republicans always exploit disasters for political gain. Not true — sometimes they exploit gay marriage.”

  • Main guest: Naomi Klein (Author, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism)


Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In closing: “Well, folks — thank you very much! — Well, folks. That’s all she wrote. Uh, a lot of my writers are women. Good night!”

Video Highlight:

Shakespearean Candidates – Stephen Greenblatt: Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt discusses the Shakespearean parallels of Obama, McCain and Palin.

R.A.P.S. – Click here to talk about the episode!

NOTABLE MOMENTS ó Video links and more after the fold!

More Video Highlights, courtesy of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report website


  • Welcome to the show, good to have you with us, folks; tonight, of course, was the big Vice Presidential Debate. Now, I tape this show several hours earlier, so I haven’t seen this Vice Presidential face-off, but I can be sure of one thing: Holy Lord. What a gaffe by Joe Biden!
  • And, Jimmy, I believe we have footage of Biden’s big stumble? [Clip of man on fire] Joe, simply explaining the credit crisis would have been enough. You didn’t have to act it out.
  • As for Sarah Palin, she hit it out of the park! Or as they say in Wasilla, she hit it all the way to Russia!
  • Now, it is possible that this is not, in fact, how things panned out tonight. Could be that the media is focusing on some small misstep like Gov. Palin referring to people from Pakistan as “al-pacas”. They both make lovely sweaters … you shave them. So just in case – just in case, I’m going to take the media heat off the governor by giving the hyenas of the 24-hour news cycle a juicier story to cover. Ahh, let’s see, uhh … see what I can do. Uh, see, ah … okay, I’ve got an idea. Um, Excuse me, sir? You’ve been to this show a few times, haven’t you?
    • Tom Purcell: Well actually, Stephen, I’ve been to every show.
    • Stephen: So, you are a loyal fan.
    • Tom: Am I ever!
    • Stephen: Okay. You’ll understand why I have to do this. [Pulls out a gun and shoots him in the leg]
    • Tom: Arrrrrgh! Ahhhh – ahhhhh!! Ahhhh – you shot me in the thigh! Arrrrrgh!
    • Stephen: [through Tom’s screams] Yes, I did.
    • Tom: [clutching his bloody leg, looking around] Jimmy, Jimmy, are you getting this? He shot me in the thigh! Aaaagh! Owwww!! [blood spurting from his leg]
    • Stephen: Looks like I hit a vein.
    • Tom: Yeah! I’m feelin’ woozy. Ohh …
    • Stephen: [laughing] Yeah! Yeah, I’d get woozy, too!
  • Now, media, listen up: A man has been shot here tonight! This is no time for politics. Can we get this man to a hospital, please?
    • Tom: [still spurting blood] Actually, Stephen, I’d rather stay.
    • Stephen: Okay. The big story of the night: “Stephen Colbert shoots an audience member –“. Would you mind if I said “former lover”?
    • Tom: Go for it.
    • Stephen: “- Shoots a former lover in the throes of passion!”
  • Governor Palin, you’re welcome.
  • Of course, this race is not going to be decided by the VP candidates; it is John McCain vs. Barack Obama! Two candidates with striking differences and one thing in common. [Montage of pundits talking about the candidates’ stories] Amazing personal stories! And Nation, I know stories. In college, I spent two years undercover in the theater department to root out Communists. I blew my cover during our production of West Side Story when I improvised a soliloquy about how the Sharks should be deported.
  • Now, while I was there, I learned that many modern stories have their roots in Shakespeare. For example, did you know that Beverly Hills Chihuahua is loosely based on Troilus and Cressida?
  • Now, Obama and McCain’s stories are right out of Shakespeare. Listen to how Washington insiders describe John McCain. [Montage of clips, various analysts saying: “His persona comes from being a fighter pilot.” “He was a Happy Warrior.” “Passionate.” “Impulsive, risk-taking decisions …” “John reacts to things …” “There’s part of McCain that is very emotional.”] McCain sounds a lot like Macbeth: a passionate man, prized for his military heroism.
  • Now sure, Macbeth murdered his best friend, the King but, back then, that just Macbeth a “Mac-Maverick”.
  • Now, like – like Macbeth, McCain is plagued by a ghost who keeps popping up at the worst times. [image of George W. Bush] And, speaking of “bubble bubble, toil and trouble [sic]” McCain’s running mate is also plagued by witches.
  • You know what, on second thought, maybe McCain is more like Prospero from The Tempest. A powerful old man who lives in isolation with a hideous creature no one likes. [image of Joe Lieberman]
  • Now here’s – here is how people describe Obama. [Montage of clips, talking heads: “Does Obama have the backbone?” “Do you agree that he’s too intellectual?” “He has a very large number of ‘present’ votes … votes which are neither ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes.” “Is he just too professorial?” “Professorial, aloof, elitist.”] There you have it: He is an egghead elitist who can’t make up his mind. Clearly, Obama is Hamlet.
  • It makes sense! He’s haunted by his father not to mention his father figure. Plus, let us not forget that he drove a good woman insane. [image of Hillary Clinton]
  • Now, there are those who would naturally compare Obama to Othello, because he want’s to smother our values with a pillow.
  • So what would the world be like if these dramatis personae became dramatis Presidentae? What do their Shakespearean character types say about how they would lead? Well here to tell us is noted Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt!
  • Professor Greenblatt, thank you so much for joining us. Now you teach at Harvard University, correct?
    • Greenblatt: I do.
    • Stephen: Thank you for coming down from your ivory tower today. Did you have to use special oxygen tanks to breathe down here with the rest of us?
    • Greenblatt: I’m doin’ okay.
    • Stephen: Okay. Now, how – how well do you know Shakespeare? Could you answer all of my questions in iambic pentameter?
    • Greenblatt: My lord, on that one, I’ll get back to you.
    • Stephen: [smiling] Yes. You had a weak trochee in there. Now, do you think Obama and McCain have Shakespearean parallels?
    • Greenblatt: I think that McCain does; it’s not so clear about Obama.
    • Stephen: Well did you think I’m right on the Macbeth thing for McCain? He has betrayed — and I think he did the right thing here, by the way, I think Macbeth is much maligned — I think that McCain had to abandon some of his principles to win.
    • Greenblatt: I think Shakespeare thought all his life about precisely … military heroism and whether it could translate into leadership.
    • Stephen: And of course it always did.
    • Greenblatt: And, of course, he thought it didn’t; almost never did.
    • Stephen: What are you talking about? What are you talking about?! Macbeth was a military hero who became King! End of story, they all lived happily ever after!
    • Greenblatt: Total — total catastrophe. And not only a total catastrophe, but a horrible exchange of honor for power. And power exercised terribly.
    • Stephen: But Shakespeare wasn’t some — himself, he wasn’t some overeducated egghead; he didn’t have a formal education, right?
    • Greenblatt: That’s right.
    • Stephen: He was much more of a “speak to the groundlings,” Joe Six-Pack kind of guy, right?
    • Greenblatt: He could speak to the groundlings, but he had, also, the quality of being the smartest person in his world.
    • Stephen: Like — like Sarah Palin! Right? All right? She knows more about energy than anybody in the world, and so Shakespeare would have loved Sarah Palin … although back in his day, she would have been played by a young boy, correct?
    • Greenblatt: I think he would have loved Sarah Palin, he did a lot of Sarah Palin imitations. For example, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who thinks he can play all the parts, ready for anything, but actually is a horse’s ass. [Editor’s note: Burn!]
    • Stephen: Now, I was saying before that Obama might be Hamlet; is there any chance that Obama is instead Puck, who uses a potion to get people to fall in love for no reason whatsoever?
    • Greenblatt: I think that Obama does have a certain magic.
    • Stephen: Right. He casts a spell over people who already have donkey heads.
    • Greenblatt: [laughing] I think the magic is the magic of offering people some hope when they’re miserable.
    • Stephen: Well, we are not that happy right now.
    • Greenblatt: This is true. “Our revels now are ending.”
    • Stephen: Exactly. “Our stern alarums chang’d to merry meetings.”
    • Greenblatt: [impressed] Ahh!
    • Stephen: Yeah. Yeah, don’t f*#k with me, man! Professor, thank you so much for joining us. I believe that was Shakespeare also. Stephen Greenblatt, his book is Will in the World.
  • Stephen: Nation, last night the big bailout plan passed the Senate. Now it is heading back to the House. But does this controversial plan deserve to be made into law? Please welcome the only person qualified to debate me on this subject: Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson.
    • Stephen: Sorry, Hank couldn’t make it so I’ll be filling in. This is Formidable Opponent!
    • Stephen: Okay, Stephen, I’ll accept that we’re in trouble, but is this action so urgently needed?
    • Stephen: Didn’t you hear the President last week? If we don’t pass this legislation, the consequences could be disastrous!
    • Stephen: Like what?
    • Stephen: God will die.
    • Stephen: Okay, that’s pretty bad. But we’re giving money to the people who caused the problem! I say we withhold the cash and teach ’em a lesson.
    • Stephen: Stephen, if your kidneys failed, would you withhold medicine just to teach your kidneys a lesson?
    • Stephen: I’ve done it before.
    • Stephen: Yes. And that is why you get drunk on Dr. Pepper.
    • Stephen: Oh yeah. Okay, fine. Bailout it is.
    • Stephen: Great. [picks up two bottles of Dr. Pepper] Let’s drink on it — to the bailout!
    • Stephen: To the bailout! So, uh, by the way, what’s this gonna cost?
    • Stephen: Oh, $700 billion. [sips his Dr. Pepper]
    • Stephen: [spit-take] Seven hundred billion?!
    • Stephen: [drying his face with his handkerchief] Yes.
    • Stephen: Where did the government get that figure?
    • Stephen: Well, the Treasury Department said it’s not based on anything in particular, they just, quote, [reads from the paper] “wanted to choose a really large number.”
    • Stephen: Why not just ask for supercalifragilisticexpiali-zillion?!
    • Stephen: Because that would be ridiculous. All they need is $700 billion to save the market.
    • Stephen: The free market can save itself, mister! The free market can do anything! It can self-regulate; it can self-correct; it tiptoes into nurseries at night and puts dreams into the minds of sleeping children …
    • Stephen: True. But these are not normal circumstances. Big companies are going under.
    • Stephen: Good! It’s called survival of the fittest! The companies are like lions fighting over the carcass of the economy! Weak companies die, strong companies live, then the lionesses — us! — know who to mate with.
    • Stephen: Ah. But that, my friend, is the problem. None of these companies are safe to mate with now. You see, a terrible credit disease has infected the market. It’s like, um, business syphilis.
    • Stephen: Well, how did that happen?
    • Stephen: Well, it started with a few slutty lenders, who jumped into bed with some really subprime mortgages. The next thing you knew, you had a credit orgy! People were swapping derivatives, AIG was all up in Fannie Mae, Wachovia took on Golden West, then turned around and got it on with A.G. Edwards, then Citigroup had ’em all at once. It was a steaming pile of hot, slapping assets! No one — no one knew who was bundling who, but it felt good and everybody was doin’ it. And in the end, let’s just say the market “blew” its liquidity.
    • Stephen: Wow. That is hot. I mean — um, I mean, oh! I’m glad I didn’t catch it.
    • Stephen: Not so fast, Susie Cream Cheese. You keep any money in a bank? You ever do a line of credit?
    • Stephen: I mean, well, sure.
    • Stephen: Then you caught it, too.
    • Stephen: Oh no! Well, what if I just let it run its course? Will it go away on its own?
    • Stephen: Maybe. Or maybe you’ll go mad and your junk will rot off.
    • Stephen: This is still a metaphor, right?
    • Stephen: Sure.
    • Stephen: So what’s the cure?
    • Stephen: Seven hundred billion dollars.
    • Stephen: Fine. But from now on, no more corporate bare-backing. Those banks use regulation!
    • Stephen: Regulation?! That’s like takin’ a shower with a raincoat on!
    • Stephen: Promise!
    • Stephen: Okay, I promise. [winks at the camera]
    • Stephen: Fine, you’ll get your money. You’re the financial expert.
    • Stephen: And you, sir …
    • Stephen and Stephen: — Are a Formidable Opponent!
  • My guest tonight says that the government exploits crises so they can pass pro-business agendas. How can she say that? We’re in the middle of a crisis. Please welcome Naomi Klein!
  • Now the name of your book is The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Okay, now what is the “Shock Doctrine”? Because that sounds like a great way to get information out of a person.
    • Klein: Well, there really is a parallel, because if you want to get information out of a prisoner, you put them into a state of shock. And when they’re in that state, they’ll kind of do whatever you want. Well —
    • Stephen: Exactly, so you agree that we should be torturing prisoners. [Klein: laughing protest] You just said that. Those were your words, madam.
    • Klein: Whole societies – whole societies also go into states of shock, when there’s a crisis, like a terrorist attack, or a huge natural disaster or a huge economic crisis. Something happens, people don’t know what’s going on, and then they’ll kind of do whatever people in authority want them to do.
    • Stephen: ‘Cause you’ve gotta turn to a leader! You’ve gotta say: Who’s got control; who’s got the reins; get us out of this thing; we’ll do anything you want!
    • Klein: What happens to you when you’re in a state of shock is you regress, you become childlike —
    • Stephen: Oh no, you become clear! Everything becomes very clear to you, madam!
    • Klein: That can happen —
    • Stephen: You say, rights would be nice, privacy would be nice, but first, we’ve got to get out of this mess.
    • Klein: No no no. What happens is you regress. You become childlike, and you start thinking that Rudy Giuliani’s your “Daddy” and that Dick Cheney’s gonna take care of you …
    • Stephen: Well look, that’s just it. When you’re in a moment of crisis, Daddy’s at the wheel! [mimes driving] If you’re in a cross-country trip — in a snowstorm, you don’t say, hey, any of the kids in the back seat, you wanna take a turn up here?
    • Klein: See, but the problem is – the problem is, we’ve had leaders that take advantage of the fact that we put trust in them when we are in a state of shock.
    • Stephen: By “advantage”, don’t you mean “initiative”?
    • Klein: I don’t, I —
    • Stephen: “Responsibility”?
    • Klein: [laughing] I mean that they use shock to enrich themselves and their friends. And that this is why —
    • Stephen: So, they shouldn’t get anything for their efforts?!
    • Klein: I think they’ve been getting a little bit too much, and I think that this is — you know, people are becoming “shock-resistant”. Which is wonderful, because they remember, you know, what – the way this administration used the shock of September 11th to build the Homeland Security industry. Rudy Giuliani went into that same industry, himself, as soon as he left office. They remember —
    • Stephen: [interrupting] Because he knows about it. Go ahead.
    • Klein: They remember that the War in Iraq was used to privatize the government, and create —
    • Stephen: See, people like you, who come along and say, this is like, “Oh, we’re just being scared by these things!” These are real, so when the next one comes around, people are going to go, “Oh, Naomi Klein told me not to be scare this time,” and the next time, boom! We’re not ready.
    • Klein: No. It’s not about not being ready. Look, I wrote the book so people will be ready, and one of the things we have to be ready for … is this impulse for people in power to take advantage of us in these moments.
    • Stephen: You’ve said … the invasion of Iraq was an example of the “Shock Doctrine”. Okay?
    • Klein: And it was, of disaster capitalism. Absolutely. I’ll give you an example —
    • Stephen: What do you mean by “disaster capitalism”? How can capitalism be a disaster?
    • Klein: [laughing] Exactly. I think the real question is, is there a kind of capitalism that is not a disaster?
    • Stephen: Maybe this kind of capitalism, selling books –[drops book on the floor] oops! Sorry. Selling books on a TV show; that’s not disaster capitalism. Capitalism’s doing you all right right now, lady.
    • Klein: [laughing] Listen, I — it’s true. I am competing in the free market, but the problem is that the Bush Administration doesn’t really believe in the free market. They have invented “no-risk capitalism”, okay? So … they spend seven years, just transferring public money into private hands; their final act is taking private debt and transferring it into public hands.
    • Stephen: But aren’t — sounds like you’re just, you know, upset that you’re not a banker right now.
    • Klein: I think we’re all a little upset that we’re not bankers right now.
    • Stephen: Of course! But that’s our fault for not getting in on the game.

Fangirl Suit Report: Pewter grey pinstriped suit, powder grey shirt. Gold tie with black and white geometric pattern. WristSTRONG bracelet.

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Peter Earnest with Stephen Colbert on 'The Colbert Report'

I love it when a former guest of Stephen Colbert on ‘The Colbert Report’ is interviewed and gives us a bit of a glimpse of some behind the scenes goodies of their appearance. The We Love DC blog interviewed Peter Earnest, Executive Director of the International Spy Museum, and Earnest talked about his appearance on the show with interviewer Ben H. Rome:

Very briefly about Colbertís visit: it was very fun to watch. Was it as fun to make with him as it was to watch?

Peter: It was just a delight. Steven Colbert is a very gracious guy. He is very gracious with his staff. He was terrific to work with. It was as fun to work with as what you would see on the screen. Where he gets the energy, Iím not sure, but itís there, and heís a very warm and easy guy to work with. I enjoyed it.

It was really fun having him come here and doing a program, and we all got a kick out of it. They were here really the better part of the day. They came down from New York. He was wearing a tuxedo. I saw him step out of that big bus. They actually came down on the train, and they were here from fairly early in the morning, probably around at least eight, to do some shooting in the museum, and they were here until mid-afternoon. They had plans to go to another institution after this one but they were here long enough that they bagged those plans. I donít know that they travel outside New York City all that often, but we very much enjoyed having them here. Theyíre welcome to come back any time.

Do you still have your medal?

Peter: I still have my medal, yes.

So you are Peter Earnest?

Peter: And I am Peter Earnest, yes.

Here’s those videos if you missed either one of Earnest’s appearances.

h/t Betsy

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