Last night’s Colbert Report covered issues like the drop in gas prices and rich people getting things named after them through sponsorship in an episode that basically mocked American’s stupidity. Short-sightedness and hubris took center stage last night as the titular host analysed what the new, low gas prices means. With the director of the Center on Global Energy Policy, he talked about the best future plans people can make about their cars. Then he followed conservative mega-donor David Koch’s example and sold off an important piece of television real estate just to make a buck or two. Put together, these segments were a send-up of practices that make a lot of Americans look pretty ridiculous.
Part of Stephen Colbert’s satire is his absolute lack of self-awareness. In that respect he has played the part of a mirror for parts of America that seem unable to recognize their own faults. While he is most often mocking conservatives, last night’s discussion of gas prices took aim at the short-sightedness of Americans in general. This time, it was gas prices that prompted people to make some rash decisions. According to reports, SUV and other large car sales have risen due to the drop in gas prices. People assume that now that gas is cheap again, they can afford to fill up the massive tank of a gas guzzler, but they do not recognize the fact that this situation cannot last forever.
Jason Bordoff from the Center on Global Energy Policy discussed the issue of gas prices with Colbert and he was an extremely necessary brake on the host’s enthusiasm. He warned the excited host that the gas party cannot last and the best thing for people to do is still buy a gas efficient car. In the long run, that will save people more money. None of that really mattered to the overly enthusiastic comedian, however, who was still crowing “carpe gas-em” at the end of the segment. In that moment, Colbert stood in for the thousands of Americans lulled into a false sense of security by the good fortune of lower gas prices.
After mocking people’s gas related decisions, Colbert took aim at the stupidity of sponsorship and having one’s name plastered on some American monument or building just because they paid a lot of money. Like conservative mega-donor David H. Koch, he decided to cash in on the trend in the very last installment of “Colbert Platinum.” He decided to sell the name of the show to Dewars, making it the “ColbDewar Repewar” and making an appropriate change to the theme song. But he did have a strict criteria for who could buy the show’s name, namely that their check clear. Just because his show is ending, that does not mean that America’s purveyor of truthiness is not cashing in.
Colbert is brilliant in this episode for the almost imperceptible way in which he mocks Americans for their gas craziness and their sponsorship fetish. He plays the part of cluelessness so well that many people may have missed it, but he is not lazy in his portrayal. By fully inhabiting the character of “Stephen Colbert,” he has spent the last nine years revealing America to itself and the nation has loved him for it. That comedic honesty will truly be missed after Thursday’s show.
Review By Lydia Bradbury