Colbert’s smart bomb

Why attendees at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner panned Colbert.

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The real sign of Stephen Colbert’s success at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner wasn’t his jokes — which, from beginning to end, were spot-on, from Bush’s handling of the war (“I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq”) and his low-30s approval rating (“I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68 percent approve of the job he’s not doing?”) to sidelong whacks at John McCain, Fox News and Donald Rumsfeld, among others. And no, it wasn’t the grim-looking handshake he received from the president or the icy glare he received from Laura Bush that let us know that Colbert hit his targets. The proof of his accuracy lies in how badly the Tracy Flicks of the Washington press corps reacted. After all, this wasn’t the baby-soft slapstick they usually get at the correspondents’ dinner. (Anyone else remember when Darrell Hammond got all gushy from meeting Bush in person in 2001? Yeesh.) Sure, C-SPAN’s cameras captured a few journalists tittering at each other like naughty schoolgirls, but for the most part journalists sat on their hands - while just moments before, they were laughing uproariously at President Bush’s incredibly lame skit with a Bush impressionist. That was Colbert’s real feat: Showing us the real Washington media world, where everyone worries so much about offending someone, anyone, that the least bit of frank talk turns them into obedient little church mice. (Below is his opening monologue. To see his skit — and icy exchange with the Bushes — go to the post below.)

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