Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC not all that Super

One consequence of my recently-adjourned month-long sojourn to Israel and the Atlantic Seaboard is that I have fallen uncharacteristically behind on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I’m currently somewhere in late January and am valiantly attempting to make up ground on a daily basis.

Where I am in the ‘plot’, a major storyline is Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC – more specifically, its iteration as The Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert SuperPAC.

Watching Stewart and Colbert, viewers are (/were) encouraged to understand that the SuperPAC has raised an astronomical sum of money.* The actual financial success of the SuperPAC is obviously not critical to the point about campaign finance and the need for reform. But I’ll admit that based on Stewart and Colbert’s behavior, I imagined that the amount was substantial.

So it was that when I happened to stumble across the actual sum involved, I was somewhat disappointed: the SuperPAC has raised just over $1m, and has only $800,000 in cash on hand (after spending $48,000 on finance consulting and $17,000 on Trevor Potter’s appearances on the show – most adorably here**). This doesn’t exactly qualify as investigate journalism: a quick search reveals that Colbert discussed his totals on the air February 2nd – but for me, that’s still the future.

This post is an attempt to bring that figure into some perspective. Yes, it’s a lot of money for a SuperPAC that exists only to parody the existence of SuperPACs and serves no real political objective (in the sense of trying to get somebody elected, e.g. ‘Newt Gingrich’s SuperPAC’). I also understand that Stewart and Colbert are acting for the sake of making a point, and certainly for the sake of comedy. But in the context of Colbert’s annual salary ($4m) – to say nothing of Stewart’s ($15m) – his excitement over the size of the SuperPAC comes off as somewhat patronizing.

I don’t mean to begrudge Colbert and Stewart their financial success. Personally, I think Comedy Central should offer them lifetime contracts (the current iterations are set to expire in June 2013!). But I would suggest that in an effort to make his SuperPAC adventures more realistic, Colbert should consider contributing a portion of his vast personal fortune ($45m) to himself – sorry, to the SuperPAC that is definitely not coordinating with him.

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*For instance, in the clip where Colbert signs over his SuperPAC, check out what Stewart asks at 3:22 (sorry it’s not Youtube and I can’t just make it start in the right place). And at the beginning of this clip – the The Daily Show‘s first after the SuperPAC transfer – check out Stewart’s tiara, and his description of ‘money, money, money’ – and here, where he describes the SuperPAC as ‘a staggering amount of money’.

**Really, it’s adorable. I want to adopt them.

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