Stephen Colbert is host of The Colbert Report, seen on The Comedy Channel.
Colbert is a funny guy. His show satirizes conservatism as the liberal Colbert portrays a fake conservative.
For whatever reason, people of otherwise normal to above-average intelligence frequently behave as if they mistake his show for a serious news report. It seems that some very bright people can be easily confused. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Grover Norquist leads Americans for Tax Reform, a group that solicits politicians to sign a written pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances. Norquist signed his own pledge, of course.
The following is a transcript of a brief exchange between the two men on the show.
Colbert: I’m going to ask you a trick question.
Colbert: I hope you have the right answer. Is there any time and any circumstance under which raising taxes is the right thing to do?
Colbert: Good answer. Okay, now let’s amp it up a little bit. Terrorists have kidnapped all of our grandmothers. (Audience laughter.) They’re being kept in a subterranean burrow – which you know they have – (cut to smiling Norquist, going along with the joke) and all of the grandmothers have been slathered with honey. And they will release fire ants into this burrow to bite our grandmothers to death. (More audience laughter.) Their only demand is that we increase the marginal tax rate on the top 2 percent of Americans, and we will release them. Do we raise the tax rate or do we let our grandmothers die by ant bite? (Loud audience laughter.)
Norquist: I think we console ourselves with the fact we have pictures.
In other words, ask a stupid question, you deserve a stupid answer.
The audience booed him.
Moments earlier, they had laughed as Colbert created this absolutely ridiculous scenario. They were expressing shock and dismay at Norquist’s somewhat cavalier dismissal of the grotesquely fictionalized death of grandma.
The audience apparently failed to realize the question itself was the joke. They obviously didn’t get it.
Colbert had to laugh at his audience. He said, “No, that’s the right answer! The man made a pledge.”
He’s absolutely right. It remains the right answer.
The solution is not to increase taxes, but substantially decrease government spending.