Stephen Colbert’s Knock-Knock Joke about Campaign Finance Regulation

Print Share on LinkedIn More

July 3, 2011; Source: Washington Post | The waves of increasing secrecy in the financing of political campaign entities such as PACs and 501(c)(4)s are cresting in the brilliant parody crafted by comedian Stephen Colbert and his Colbert SuperPAC. According to the Post’s Dana Milbank, Colbert’s PAC is narrowly structured enough to meet Federal Election Commission standards without requiring FEC approval.  But that hasn’t stopped Colbert from shining a light on the joke that is the current state of campaign finance regulation in this country.  Here’s a sampling of Colbert’s insights into the tatters of campaign finance regulation:

A knock-knock joke at his presentation outside the FEC offices:

“Knock knock,” Colbert said.

“Who’s there?” responded the crowd of about 200.

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions.”

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?”

“That’s the thing,” Colbert said. “I don’t think I should have to tell you.”

We love that one.  How about Colbert on the equivalency of money and free speech?

“I do not accept limits on my free speech,” he said. “But I do accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Fifty dollars or less, please, because then I don’t have to keep a record of who gave it to me.”

Milbank asserts with much justification that Colbert’s PAC is no less a joke about the miserable condition of campaign finance regulation than the unfettered operations of Karl Rove’s network of American Crossroads institutions–the PAC and the 501(c)(4).  But there is more to Colbert than just the critique of campaign finance oversight. Isn’t Colbert also making a mockery–deservedly so–of the nonprofit sector’s overwhelming demand for the secrecy of donors and donations (that is, secret to the public, but not secret to the high-power fundraisers who most assuredly know)? —Rick Cohen