After taking on campaign finance with his super PAC last year, Stephen Colbert appears to have moved on to a new favorite cause: voting rights.
As the host explained Wednesday night on “The Colbert Report,” he’s “personally invested in the issue because he attended the 1963 March on Washington while in his mother’s womb (he even had a muffled recording of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to prove it).
The issue is in the news at the moment, thanks to a case before the Supreme Court challenging the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “That’s right, the law that banned silencing African Americans is now coming before our nation’s foremost silent African American,” Colbert joked, a dig at the famously taciturn Justice Clarence Thomas.
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As a lawyer argued before the court last week, the law -- which applies to states with a history of racial discrimination at the ballot box -- is outdated and, therefore, unfair because “the problem” it originally addressed has been “solved.”
“You heard him, folks! Racism is solved,” Colbert declared, ordering his stage hands to drop the “fully integated balloons.”
Still, he couldn’t recall the exact moment when racism ended: “I wonder when that was. Was it the time when Ross dated Aisha Tyler on ‘Friends’? Or when Keebler added the black elf? Oh, I know. It must have been when they made slavery illegal in Mississippy all the way back in… 4 weeks ago,” Colbert said, referring to that state’s extremely belated ratification of the 13th Amendment.
But he reserved his harshest tongue-in-cheek criticism for “conservative stalwart and Justice the Hut” Antonin Scalia, who claimed during last week’s hearing that Congress was afraid to strike down the law for fear of looking bad.
“Yes, you’d have to be an a-hole to vote against that in the future. Luckily we’ve got an a-hole who will vote against it in the present,” he said.
Colbert ended by drawing an analogy: “These states are just saying ‘Yes, I used to beat my girlfriend, but I haven’t since the restraining order, so we don’t need it anymore.’ ”
Wednesday’s episode also included a must-watch interview with civil rights leader Julian Bond, who more than held his own with a very much in-character Colbert.
The host wondered if, like the Voting Rights Act, the 13thAmendment is really necessary anymore, given the fact that slavery no longer exists. Plus, he figured, “we’re not going to enslave African Americans, sir. We have Mexicans now.”
Bond didn’t miss a beat: “Well, I’m sure the Mexicans are glad to hear that.”
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