A small circle: The Wørd    
 The Wørd5 comments
picture12 Jul 2006 @ 09:21, by D

On "The Wørd," a regular feature of his program, "The Colbert Report" (pronounced coal-BEAR re-PORE, with silent T's), broadcasted on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert regularly parodies the kind of anti-intellectual populism typical of such programs as the Bill O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel.

"...you're looking at a straight-shooter, America. I tell it like it is. I calls 'em like I sees 'em. I will speak to you in plain simple English.

And that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness.

Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart."

(A video clip of this segment is available here and here.)

You have to give it to him, the man is brilliant!

And he's got guts, too!

Remember his roasting of President Bush back in April, 2006?

Mr. President and first lady, my name is Stephen Colbert and it’s my privilege tonight to celebrate our president. He's no so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brain backs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the fact (police). We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that’s not true. That's 'cause you looked it up in a book.

Next time look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, ok? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the no fact zone. Fox news, I own the copyright on that term.

I'm a simple man with a simple mind, with a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists.

My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how “The Washington Post" spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out in plastic for three cents a unit.

In fact, ambassador, welcome, your great country makes our happy meals possible. I said it's a celebration. 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. I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible -- I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be it Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe our infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know fiction.

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the white house has personnel changes. Then you write they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This ships not sinking.

This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on The Hindenburg...

Now, it's not all bad guys out there. Some heroes, Buckley, Kim Schieffer. By the way, Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be to my show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is I promise you. How is Tuesday...tonight?

General Mosley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace. They still support Rumsfeld. You guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld. Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble, don't let them retire. C'mon, we've got a stop loss program; let's use it on these guys. If you're strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle.

C'mon. Jesse Jackson is here. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants.

It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

This is the link to the YouTube mirror of the videos First, Second, and Third parts, as well as the opening segment of the next broadcast of the Colbert Report (01 May 2006) after the roasting.

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12 Jul 2006 @ 09:29 by Hanae @ : LOL

I thought "Truthiness" was a Christian Rock band :}  

12 Jul 2006 @ 09:43 by i2i : Seriously now, Hanae...
...are you talking from the heart or are yah just "intellectualizing?"


12 Jul 2006 @ 09:50 by Hanae @ : Sorry i2i

I wouldn't know about "intellectualizing", I am not really "up on what academics are doing" ;-)  

12 Jul 2006 @ 12:08 by jazzolog : Maybe I Can Help You With That
They're on vacation, on their boodles resting their noodles.  

12 Jul 2006 @ 16:45 by i2i : Yeah, right, very funny Hanae!
I'll leave academia to jazzolog and Hanae - not really my turf here - but talking of which, it is interesting to note that the American Dialect Society voted "truthiness" as the Word of the Year 2005.

Wikipedia has a long {link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness|entry} about it:

Truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination. (...) By using the term as part of his satirical routine, Colbert seeks to critique the tendency to rely upon 'truthiness,' and its use as an appeal to emotion in contemporary socio-political discourse:

"I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart. And that's exactly what's pulling our country apart today. 'Cause face it, folks; we are a divided nation. Not between Democrats and Republicans, or conservatives and liberals, or tops and bottoms. No, we are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart.
Consider Harriet Miers. If you 'think' about Harriet Miers, of course her nomination's absurd. But the president didn't say he 'thought' about his selection. He said this:
(video clip of President Bush:) 'I know her heart.'
Notice how he said nothing about her brain? He didn't have to. He 'feels' the truth about Harriet Miers."
"And what about Iraq? If you 'think' about it, maybe there are a few missing pieces to the rationale for war. But doesn't taking Saddam out 'feel' like the right thing?"
-----Excerpts from the October 17, 2005 episode of The Colbert Report, stated by Stephen Colbert]

Colbert is a liberal pretending to be a conservative ({link:http://www.avclub.com/content/node/44705|here} is an inteview Colbert gave to the Onion back on 01/25/06), but I think it fair to say that truthiness is common practice across the political spectrum on both sides of the Atlantic.  

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