Federal Elections Commission

Colbert: Seriously Funny

Faux news shows have become so prevalent that a lot of people actually depend on them for information, opinions and distortions. Conveniently, they also get a good laugh when they view shows such as The Colbert Report.

But as The New York Times Magazine noted in its weekend edition, Stephen Colbert is more than funny when it comes to pointing out the foibles of federal election laws; he is seriously funny.

Colbert, with the assistance of a former Federal Elections Commission chairman, has created what is known as a Super PAC and called it Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of "soft money" — money contributed directly by corporations or unions — to support or oppose candidates, as long as they don't coordinate with the benefitting campaigns. What coordination actually means isn't clearly spelled out.

Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow is more than a comedic parody, unlike Colbert's effort in the 2008 election to get on the ballot in South Carolina as a presidential candidate. His Super Pac is real. It has 170,000 names on its database, 30,000 of whom have contributed to the Super PAC. "This is 100 percent legal and at least 10 percent ethical," Colbert says.

The Super PAC has done such oddball things as stage a TV ad campaign in Iowa to cast caucus votes for Rick "Parry," a word play off the real name of real GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry.

Even stranger, Colbert's Super PAC pitched South Carolina Republicans on the idea of the naming rights of its primary election – "The Stephen Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Primary." Ha ha, you say. But South Carolina Republicans actually considered the $400,000 offer. The idea got sidetracked by a South Carolina court, but Democrats in the Palmetto State apparently considered a sweetened $500,000 proposal to appeal the rebuff to a higher court.