Stephen Colbert returns to Washington on Thursday to stir up trouble, this time at the Federal Election Commission.
The satirical pundit of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” is scheduled to appear at an open meeting of the FEC to answer questions about his super PAC, a tongue-in-cheek political action committee dedicated to himself.
The visit puts the FEC in the position of trying not to be the butt of Colbert’s jokes.
Former FEC Chairman David Mason cautioned that commissioners could find themselves in a tough position when dealing with Colbert.
“If they just play it straight, then they become the straight men for his jokes and are portrayed as witless, clueless bureaucrats,” said Mason, who helps campaigns, PACs and parties stay in compliance as a vice president at Aristotle Inc. “And if they try to trade jokes with him, it’s like mud wrestling with a pig. You get dirty, and he doesn’t mind.”
Colbert walks the line between political relevance and comedic absurdity, but there is usually a serious argument beneath the antics. In this case, he’s drawing attention to recent court rulings allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on electioneering.
So far, the FEC has played it pretty straight with Colbert. For example, the comedian is seeking an advisory opinion regarding his television show’s parent company, and the FEC has released three draft opinions totaling 51 pages, including a new draft on Tuesday.
“Certainly the commission is treating this as seriously as it treats any other advisory opinion request,” FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said.