October 25th, 2007
10:10 AM ET
10 years ago

Comedy Central: Colbert presidential run is legal

Comedy Central says a Colbert presidential run would not violate election laws.

(CNN) – OK, so it’s not exactly the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. But could it be the Lawyers Who Stole Election Night for Stephen Colbert?

The Comedy Central host's bid for the presidency may be fake, but very real election laws could mean the comedian's "candidacy" in South Carolina may never actually happen.

Questions have been raised whether a Federal Elections Commission ban on corporate sponsorship of candidates would apply to Colbert. His show on Comedy Central is owned by Viacom and sponsored by Doritos.

There’s no issue yet because, real or not, Colbert’s not officially a candidate. He hasn’t submitted petitions to make the ballot anywhere, though he says he plans to run as both a Republican and a Democrat in his native Palmetto State.

Though, as The Ticker has reported, the State parties may prevent him from appearing on both ballots simultaneously.

But the "truthiness" of the federal statutes may not take away all the fun, anyway.

A Comedy Central spokesman said the network believes the candidacy would be within the rules.

"Based on the law, prior rulings made by the Federal Election Commission and advice of expert outside counsel, Comedy Central is very comfortable that the network, 'The Colbert Report' and Stephen Colbert are operating well within federal campaign election laws," the spokesman said.

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: South Carolina • Stephen Colbert
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. susan, Bismarck, ND

    Gee a canditate who is sponsored by Doritos. Sounds like fun to me; and more honest then sponsors like tobacco and drug companies.

    October 25, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. Hugh, Barrie, Ontario

    Running and winning aside, the biggest punchline is that he would potentially blocked from either because of his 'corporate sponsorship'. Maybe those rules should extended, and anyone collecting funds from churches, 'Big Tobacco', etc should also be prevented from running for the presidency... oh but then no-one would be allowed to run. Democracy is dead, Viva Plutocracy.

    October 25, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. Michael, Houston TX

    Saw an earlier post and felt compelled:

    "The run for presidency is for grownups"???

    Why didn't someone tell Bush Jr.? Just proves an incompetent can win it if he has the right team,

    Someday everyone will look back at how president Cheney ran the country...

    October 25, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. Bitsy B.

    Mike Hubbard, you apparently have never watched Stephen Colbert's or Jon Stewart's shows. Have you ever heard the saying, "Speak not of what you know not"?

    Mr. Colbert and Mr. Stewart are extremely intelligent and well-informed. They both have an amazing depth of knowledge of politics, history and world events. Their interviews, while often very funny, are also insightful and come from a thorough understanding of the subject. And, while they both obviously lean to the left, they are not afraid to ridicule Democrats as well as Republicans, if it's deserved.

    Sweeping generalizations based on presumption serve no purpose.

    October 25, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  5. Jeff, Bridgeport WV

    Mike from Ohio – You claim that neither Colbert nor Stewart could "have an intelligent and substantive discussion on any of the issues that will face our nation in the next four years." Are you sure you want to say that? Have you watched either of their shows? Have you seen the clip from when Stewart was on Crossfire back in 2004? I can't really speak for Colbert as his persona is an act but Stewart is extremely intelligent and well informed on the issues of today, and the future.

    Also I applaud Colbert for pointing out just how much of a joke our political system has become. It was once about finding those best to represent our country, it has become who can pander to the extremes of society, lie, and cheat their way into power. A rather laughable system if you ask me.

    Colbert '08, I'd vote for him if he ran in WV.

    October 25, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    James in Baltimore:
    With all the clowns running seriously for office, the only way to get through this fiasco of an election campaign is to keep a sense of humor. It's actually an embarrassment to the candidates of both parties that Colbert can get 12% of support in a 'serious' poll. It certainly shows the dissatisfaction of the electorate with the current crop of wannabes.

    October 25, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Might want to rethink your accusations of lack of intelligence Mr. Hubbard,

    "new study by the Pew Research Study shows that viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last.."


    You might want to pull some clips Comedy Central on the show and see for yourself. Colbert has a weekly feature "Better Know a District" that highlights (satirically) a new house represenative. I'd wager Colbert's met more House Rep's face to face than most news anchors and he had Kasparov on this week – you know, the opposition Russian candidate.

    It never hurts to check out the opposition, even if you disagree with them. You might be surprised by what they actually do rather than what you think they do.

    October 25, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Pamela, Mobile, AL

    Mike from Ohio, your comment was a farce ... who are you referring to when you say "people who actually have the brains and ... education" ... Bush? You must be kidding. Bush is the biggest comedian and least educated of the bunch, and the scary thing is he's not trying to be funny, but he does pretend to lead our country. That is nothing to laugh at.

    October 25, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. M. Morton, Okeechobee Florida

    Colbert as President.....just what this
    country needs,that idiot in the white
    house. No thanks!

    October 25, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Dave; Asheville, NC

    Mike, it is obvious that you have never watched either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report...if you did you would know how off-base you are. Jon Stewart or Stephen COlbert have a better handle on today's issues than 90% of the population, and in terms of "substantive discussion", aren't afraid to ask these folks the hard questions...folks on either "side", unlike the current press corps. I haven't heard much "substantive discussion" amongst any of the candidates up to this point anyway. The rhetoric from both sides is frankly a bit disgusting. I personally find it amusing that in intial polls, a lot of conservatives are going towards Colbert; they obviously do not get the joke or the sarcasm. BTW, by grown-ups running for president, you were referring to the likes of ?????!

    October 25, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Anonymous

    More information Mr. Hubbard on what the viewers of Daily Show and Colbert Report know or don't know: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/09-30-2004/0002262661&EDATE=

    October 25, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. Ryan, Washington DC

    I agree, it's about time someone manipulated the system and the people that have been manipulating Americans for years. I hope Steven Colbert wins the SC primary. It would force the system to change.

    October 25, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Roberta Ledgerwood Dennis

    Well, let the boy try. It can only be better that the Governor Blanton appointment of Judge "Tommie" Austin to Roane County, Tennessee who is now serving time in prison on extortion.

    October 25, 2007 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Dr Atomic

    Mike from Hubbard: But you'd vote for Rush Limbaugh, right? Don't mind him making all of their money every four years because he gets to poke fun at people who actually have the brains and intestinal fortitude to get an education and a real job? Mr Rosie O'Donnell said to tell you 'look out, there are gay people under your bed.'

    October 25, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. Brad, Omaha NE




    NO ONE SAYS YOU HAVE TO VOTE FOR DEMS OR REPUBES (yeah i spelled it right)




    October 25, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. Peter Easont,PA

    I hope Colbert makes a serious run for it. But most importantly he is exposeing some of the ridiculousness that is the political and electoral process. For example he noted on his show in SC there is a $26,000 dollar fee to run as republican vs a democrat which is only $2,500 or 3000 signatures from people who consider themselves democrats.

    October 25, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  17. Russ, Flemington, NJ

    Frank, let's remember that the birthplace of Democracy is not Washington D.C. but rather Philadelphia. DC was a festering swamp when our nation was born. Some things never change I guess.
    Let's not judge Mr. Colbert by his profession. President Reagan, (AKA the man who crushed the USSR) had a similar start as I recall. He fulfills both requirements to be President (born in the USA and over 35). Lack of political experience makes him more qualified to represent us in my opinion.

    October 25, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. Mike, Hubbard, Ohio


    Here is some sarcasm for you, "Great post. I can't wait to hear another one of your deep political observations when your shift is over at Subway."
    Colbert is about as funny as Dane Cook's "BK Lounge" bit. Hey, maybe you could get Steven and Dane an interview at the SWLounge!

    October 25, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. kelly, staten island, new york

    mike from ohio must be living in his closet. believe me, mr colber, mr stewart etc know who their representatives in congress are and they know more about what's going on then our commander and chief. it is clear you do not watch any of their shows or you wouldnt have made such a silly remark, as a matter of fact, mr colbert has a segment on his show, meet your representative, where he has invited all of them to appear on his show and he checks off their district on a map once they do come on the show. wake up mike, stop voting for losers

    October 25, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. RJ, SV, AZ

    I hope Colbert sucks up Hillary and republican votes so that the way might be paved for Obama.

    October 25, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. Loren, Cary NC

    Republican, Democrat, WHOCARES... Stephen Colbert is inspiring a demographic, who probably normally wouldn't even know the candidates names, to become AWARE and maybe even VOTE! So I say, joke or not... Keep Up the Good Work Stephen T. Colbert!

    October 25, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Wayne A Clark, Rock Hill SC

    Stephen Colbert is the only candidate running for president who truly understands the depths of the American political system. He’ll get my vote for president here in South Carolina in January, 2008. For maximum effect, I plan to vote for him twice - once on the Democratic ticket and once on the Republican ticket. No lesser of weevils for me this time. In fact, I’ll feel twice as good participating in our modern, post democratic, political process. If it creates confusion, the electoral college- or the Supreme Court- can sort it all out.

    Stephen has many advantages as a candidate. He isn’t spending tons of money on campaigning, so he will emerge from the marathon with no labor intensive obligations to lobbyists. He’ll have no need for secret White House meetings with oil executives. When ExxonMobil begins to rewrite energy policy, he’ll tell them to take a hike. (Please, Not in Alaska.) When Big Pharma sends an ex Princeton cheerleader to peddle a drug plan, Stephen will tell her to go home and take a cold shower. (He’ll take an aspirin?) No one will be able to break his ties to the common man and woman… or to his lovely (first) wife and his (semi-beautiful) child.

    President Colbert could end the war in Iraq. His father, a real man, was never insulted by Saddam Hussein. He attended Catholic schools and has a keen nose for weapons of Mass detraction. He has met a few con men in his time, so he knows better than to be shoved into the pockets of the neo-cons. It would be too tight in there, and the air would be too putrid to breathe. Most important, Stephen does not want to bring democracy to the Middle East, or anywhere else for that matter. He knows it doesn’t always work from his experience growing up in a large family. (And at Comedy Central?)

    Stephen is a first-rate campaigner who understands his audiences - what makes them think, what make them laugh, and what turns them off. His timing is superb. He pauses just at the right time to bring the point home. Some of his biggest supporters maintain that he has a good sense of humor. Come on now, admit it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who could tell an indecent joke and laugh at himself instead of one who just makes us laugh at him? (When we aren’t crying.) And Stephen would be his own vice-president. Just think about the advantages….

    Stephen is young, he doesn’t have a hearing problem and he’s not afraid of us. That’s important because he wouldn’t order the CIA and NSA to listen in on our conversations. If he knew Aunt Tilley was having a breakdown, he would have to send a card. Stephen relates to us, he knows what we really talk about-we talk about him, and he would have it no other way. He may feel his own gain, but we share common dreams.

    Stephen has many other attributes that would make him a great president. One of the most important is that he is not a father figure. He’s more of a little brother figure. That will give him an advantage over other heads of state when he’s negotiating tough issues. He could handle Big Brother Putin with some spit balls and a few one-liners. Crazy Uncle Ahmadinejad would be begging for a glass of red and a morsel of bread (And a rosary?) when Stephen finished with him. Weird cousin Kim Jong ll would drop his jump suits and try not to be such a bad joke around his own people.

    Stephen, of course, is much more than a medium figure who stands, and occasionally runs, above the crowd. He’s used to public adulation and can handle it. Only thoughts will go to his head. He has on occasion bombed, but always quickly recovers and goes on to knock ‘em dead. (Beats air strikes.) He gives it his all, and has even wounded his own wrist in the line of duty. I would hunt bears with Stephen. In brief – or boxer – he has cojones. Who among the erstwhile candidates, other than Stephen, would dare play chess with Gary Kasparov on national TV? A checkers match between John McCain and Fred Thompson at Cracker Barrel doesn’t come close.

    The NYT endorsement of Stephen was different but effective. Simply turn over an op-ed column to the dark horse testing the waters. Thank you, dowdy Maureen. The Times did the same for another old boy from the South, Jimmy Carter, and his campaign, like Colbert’s, took flight. Carter and Stephen both talk to God. (The same god?) They both know the Word. He said it, they believe it, that’s it. Carter was a liberal on race. Stephen doesn’t know what color he, or anyone else, is and he doesn’t care. He’s glad he wasn’t aborted, but has anyone polled his family? Trendy gays say that some of their best friends are Stephen.

    Stephen gives good geography. He’s from Charleston, the haughty town that started the Civil War, where the Ashley and Cooper rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. Despite these rebel roots, we can trust Stephen. If the economy goes sour, he will order troops to fire on Fort Knox for a quick gold infusion. If immigration gets out of hand, he will lead the US in seceding from the Union. He won’t put up with any nonsense from the French either. What is there not to like about Stephen…a man of all reasons. Opponents say he is driven, but Stephen knows when to stop and smell the ruses. Only a fool would misunderestimate him.

    The unvarnished thruthiness is that America needs Stephen more than Stephen needs America. He is the perfect candidate for our post-democratic, pre-traumatic age. Regular politicians just do us, but Stephen will do us proud…all without kinky torture. He may sound like a rightwing nut case, but he’s really a closet moderate, a straight arrow who knows the ropes but won’t tie voters in knots. Stephen will never flop-flip. We can bank on it. Make his mama (forget Ruby Giuliani) a happy woman: vote Colbert in 2008. God bless Stephen, and God bless Stephen.

    October 25, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  23. Chris Haynes, Winston-Salem, NC

    Mike from Ohio,

    That is a nice run-on sentence. This blog is for educated grown ups.

    October 25, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Paul, Tampa, FL

    I am so sick of reading about this everywhere you look.

    His show isn't even funny. It's even less funny that he has injected his stale boring self into our so-called election process by being interviewed and written about by what are now accepeted as todays 'journalists'.

    Yawn. Just go away and write some more boring jokes.

    October 25, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Matt, Chicago

    Hey Mike – I'm sure Thanksgiving at your house is a blast. You guys break out the Jay Leno fake headlines for a laugh? how fresh!

    Colbert's satire is 10x's smarter than any of the name-calling,self-serving, sensationalist pundits (see Hannity, Papa Bear...on-down the line.)

    As for this article, maybe the FEC should look into the corporate intests + bundlers sponsoring the 'real' candidates.'

    You think that might be the point Colbert is trying to make w. his Doritos sponsorship? that possibly the the system is flawed.
    But hey – wouldn't want you to do any critical thinking. keep watching FoxNews and have your opinions spoon fed to you.

    October 25, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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