Let this be a lesson to you, Rick Santorum: Never suggest a person should actually converse with a plant. For one thing, it just makes the plant nervous; for another ... well, it gets the late-night comedians in a ficus frenzy.
At least, that's what it seemed like on both "The Colbert Report" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Tuesday night, as the hosts leapt on the odd comments the presidential candidate made recently about plants and carbon dioxide.
“The dangers of carbon dioxide ..." Santorum mused before an audience. "Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”
So Colbert brought out his houseplant "Robert," which was sporting a tiny Obama 2012 sign in its pot. He harangued it for clearly supporting policies (Obama's) that were contrary to its interest, ending with, "Stupid, stupid plant."
Kimmel, on the other hand, actually got feedback from his plant, which was part of the set decoration. A puppet-plant-flower popped up to provide commentary.
"Is carbon dioxide dangerous?" asked Kimmel.
“Well, yes, Jimmy, it is," the plant replied. "While plants like me do absorb carbon dioxide, we can’t possibly absorb enough to counteract the huge amount of carbon that human beings pour into the atmosphere.”
Then followed a brief animated demonstration of the greenhouse effect. It wasn't gut-busting funny, but it seemed more informed than the candidate's stance.
"Thank you, plant, I'm glad I asked that," said Kimmel, preparing to leave.
"No problem," said the plant. "And hey, could you tell your cousin to stop peeing on me?"
Meanwhile, Colbert had more to say about plants and energy, using Newt Gingrich's sarcastic commentary on algae as a possible alternative fuel. Said Gingrich, "I think this summer, as gas prices go up, one of our campaign techniques should be to have people go to gas stations with a jar of algae and say to people, 'Would you rather have the Gingrich solution of drilling and having more oil, or would you like to put this in your gas tank?' ... You can’t make this stuff up.”
"But Newt can," rejoined Colbert, "because Exxon has committed $600 million to developing this (algae-as-fuel) technology." But Colbert understood where Gingrich was coming from, since algae could never manage to power the spaceships that will ultimately take humans -- or rather, Americans -- to his planned moon colony.
There was some non-plant-related political comedy from "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," wherein Leno poked fun at Mitt Romney, alleging that on his recent trip south, Romney was asked if he'd ever been to the banks of the Mississippi and replied: "No, do they have a better rate than the Cayman Islands?"
What do you think about the way the hosts took on the candidates' oversimplifications? Plant one on us over at Facebook.