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Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart talk politics, conventions with Republican outcasts

If you were a former Republican leader on the outs with the current establishment, odds were that you were a guest on Comedy Central on Thursday.

"The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart talked with Michael Steele, the former head of the Republican National Committee who wasn’t even credentialed for this year’s event, and covered a laugh with a well-timed cough when Stewart skewered current RNC chair Reince Priebus (“No love lost,” Stewart noted).

Meanwhile, Steven Colbert brought ex-Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who supports relative Mitt Romney but didn’t sound enthused about the rest of the GOP, on "The Colbert Report."

Stewart spent much of Thursday’s “Daily Show” despairing about the lack of specifics and proliferation of misinformation in Paul Ryan’s Wednesday speech.

“You’re the policy expert! What a disappointment!” Stewart said, likening it to a concert where the feature performer elected not to sing. “‘Ladies and gentlemen, Aretha Franklin is going to come out and knit for you!’ I mean, come on!”

He later turned to Steele and asked if Ryan’s lack of specificity and willingness to stretch the bounds of facts and context to the breaking point was because of pressure from Romney and the RNC.

“It’s like the Borg,” Steele responded. “Resistance is futile.”

But he also noted: “What these conventions are -- they’re largely infomercials, They’re not to get into the nuts and bolts and substance of the argument. That’s what the next 6 to 7 weeks are going to be about.”

Who needs truthiness?

 As is so often the case, the questions that Stewart asks on “The Daily Show” are answered, in his own special way, by Steven Colbert in the next half-hour.

Want to know why Ryan might have played it a little loose with the facts? Just think of what happens in sports.

“May I remind everyone out there this is the Presidential race. And to win a race, sometimes you need to juice,” Colbert said. “Ryan stretching the truth to make his speech more effective is just another form of doping -- in that if you believe him, you’re a dope.”

But at least Colbert makes a pretense of being a Republican and caring about the Party, even if it’s all just shtick. Though Huntsman ran for President under the GOP banner, he clearly sees himself as a member of the Republican Party as he would like it to be, rather than the one he thinks it really is.

“When you say, ‘what is the Republican Party today?’ I think in some sense it’s a holding company for fundraising and doing a convention every four years. And I say, it’s got to be more,” Huntsman said. “It’s got to have a heart and soul. It’s got to have a vision for this country. It’s got to have solutions.”

Some might say that kind of vision is what the convention is for. But not only was Huntsman not at the three-day event, he wasn’t even in Florida.


“I asked what they’d like me to do, and they said they’d like me to be a surrogate speaker in New Orleans this week,” he said. “I thought, ‘Are they trying to send me a signal or what?’”

Of course, not everything he said was pleasing to Colbert’s ears. When asked to explain why he didn’t attend the convention, he said, “(I’ll attend) when the Republican Party, the Party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, General Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, when they decide to become a little more inclusive and broaden the footprint a little bit ... with a larger optimistic, hopeful message about the future of this country based on real solutions.”

Then, he added,  “and beyond that, I hate Super PACS.”

Colbert, of course, has his “Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” But his audience cheered anyway.

“I have rarely seen my audience applaud abominations,” Colbert said.

 

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