If Stephen Colbert is going to pretend to be a conservative, perhaps he shouldn’t play along when a guest compares President Bush to a genocidal dictator like Adolf Hitler. On the March 13 edition of "The Colbert Report," the Comedy Central host had University of Missouri professor Dr. Donald Shield on to discuss the (media generated) controversy over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.
Shields was appearing to tout a study claiming that federal prosecutors investigated Democrats over Republicans by a five-to-one margin. However, the discussion quickly degenerated into Nazi comparisons with Colbert happily joining in:
Stephen Colbert "...The Republicans are in power so they're using the full force of the federal government to target the Democrats specifically to make sure they get all the corrupt ones out of there. I mean, that's government efficiency."
Dr. Donald Shields: "Well, that's kind of the way Hitler started out in Nazi Germany, isn't it?"
Colbert: "Well, I mean, he started out efficiently. He got bad later. But first it was about making the trains run on time. You gotta give me that. You gotta give me that!"
Shields: "I'll give you that."
Note to Colbert: If you’re going to play a right-winger, even a loose satire of a conservative, you usually don’t defend Hitler. Of course, this is the same host that once compared Rush Limbaugh to Charles Manson and mocked his addiction to pain killers.
Is it any wonder that conservatives are embracing a conservative version of "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:36pm on March 13, follows:
Stephen Colbert: "You know, the mainstream media is having a conniption over revelations that eight U.S. Attorneys were fired by the Bush administration last year. Big whoop. I thought everyone in Washington wanted to spend more time with their families anyway. Now these attorneys claim they were pushed out by the administration because they wouldn't target Democrats for investigation and remember subject to thinly veiled threats by lawmakers like Republican Senator Pete Domenici. The Justice Department says they were fired because of poor performance, even though some of them had recently received positive employee reviews. But who can trust reviews? ‘Norbit’ got terrible reviews, and it was still the number one movie in America. Therefore, it was hilarious. But now the press are seeing conspiracies everywhere. That idiot, Paul Krugman, friend of the show, had this to say in the ‘New York Times.’ ‘The politicization of the Justice Department was a key component of the Bush administration's attempt to create a permanent Republican lock on power. And what flimsy evidence does ‘Krugmanistan’ have to back up his claim? That there's, quote, ‘pressure placed on federal prosecutors to pursue dubious investigations of Democrats?’ Just a bunch of empirical data showing investigations of Democrats outnumbered investigations of Republicans by almost five to one. Those numbers were, of course, compiled by two tweed-wearing elbow-padded clowns at the University of Missouri. I'd like to give them a piece of my mind. Here now to receive a piece of my mind is one of those two tweed-wearing elbow-padded clowns, Donald Shields. Welcome, Dr. Shields. Thank you so much for coming. Now, I have to say, sir, I was impressed– I was impressed by your research. Jimmy can we get that graph back up there again? Okay. But isn't this graph just overwhelming proof that Democrats are corrupt? Otherwise, why would they have been investigated so much? Checkmate."
Dr. Donald Shields (University of Missouri) "Well, it would be proof that they were corrupt if the figures were just the other way around."
Colbert: "What do you mean?"
Shields: "Well, if they were the ones out investigating Republicans and finding that they were being indicted or convicted at a greater rate, well, then there is where the corruption would lie."
Colbert: "Oh, no, but, see, the Republicans are in power so they're using the full force of the federal government to target the Democrats specifically to make sure they get all the corrupt ones out of there. I mean, that's government efficiency."
Shields: "Well, that's kind of the way Hitler started out in Nazi Germany, isn't it?"
Colbert: "Well, I mean, he started out efficiently. He got bad later. But first it was about making the trains run on time. You gotta give me that. You gotta give me that."
Shields: "I'll give you that."
Colbert: "People are saying that this is evidence that something is wrong with the way the investigations are going on. But isn't that the same argument that get gets made for racial profiling? I mean, people say because black people get pulled over in traffic violations more often, they're being profiled. Isn't the simpler answer that maybe African Americans are lead foots? What's the difference between that and this?"
Shields: "Well, in fact, Stephen, you bring up a great point. There's a lot of similarity. My colleague and I, Dr. John Cragan, often call this being investigated and being surveilled for, for, uh, DWD: Driving while Democratic."
Colbert: "So this is political profiling, in your opinion?"
Shields: "Yes. It’s political profiling."
Colbert: "In your opinion. But, okay, even if it were political profiling, Sir, I mean, the Democrats could change that by becoming Republicans? I mean, be a Democrat, it's just a choice, like being gay. You know, you can change. Let's talk about uh, uh, the U.S. Attorneys who were fired."
Shields: "All right."
Colbert: "Do you see from these statistics any evidence that political pressure is being put on U.S., uh, uh, uh, federal attorneys, or federal prosecutors that may have led to these guys being fired?"
Shields: "I think what actually happened is that there were some of these, uh, I call them the ‘Gonzales Eight’ who happened to investigate Republicans and, therefore, they were relieved of their jobs. And there were other of these Gonzales Eight that didn't investigate Democrats, or at least didn't leak the investigation of the Democrats, like the other 385 prosecutors, U.S. Attorneys did, I mean, another 85 U.S. Attorneys did, and so, therefore they were relieved of their position."
Colbert: "But isn't the fact of the matter, even if that is the case and how it work that is the case. Some guys did the job the administration wanted and kept their jobs and some people didn't do the job the administration wanted and lost their jobs, don't these prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the President?"
Shields: "Well, yes, but they're not--"
Colbert: "Maybe they just stopped pleasuring the President. And I want you to know, sir, if you make me a federal prosecutor, I will be a one-man pleasure dome. Dr. Shields, we've got to go. Thank you so much for stopping by."