Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Transcript of Colbert's Presidential Smackdown

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert delivers a mock tribute to President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Following is the transcript of Stephen Colbert's comedy routine at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner (video available here):

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Before I begin, I've been asked to make an announcement. Whoever parked 14 black bulletproof SUVs out front, could you please move them? They are blocking in 14 other black bulletproof SUVs, and they need to get out.

Wow! Wow, what an honor! The White House Correspondents' dinner. To actually -- to sit here at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I'm dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what? I'm a pretty sound sleeper; that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face. Is he really not here tonight? Damn it! The one guy who could have helped.

By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers. Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail.

Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert, and tonight it is my privilege to celebrate this president, ‘cause we're not so different, he and I. We both get it. Guys like us, we're not some brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut. Right, sir?

That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.


Every night on my show, The Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, okay?

I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone." FOX News, I hold a copyright on that term.

I'm a simple man with a simple mind. I hold a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states, and I cannot wait to see how the Washington Post spins that one tomorrow.

I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit. As a matter of fact, Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, welcome. Your great country makes our Happy Meals possible. I said it's a celebration.

I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible. I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil.

It was magical!

And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it's yogurt. But I refuse to believe it's not butter.

Most of all, I believe in this president. Now, I know there are some polls out there saying that this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias. So, Mr. President, please, please, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass -- important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash. Okay.

Look, folks, my point is that I don't believe this is a low point in this presidency.

I believe it is just a lull before a comeback. I mean, it's like the movie Rocky. Alright? The President, in this case, is Rocky Balboa, and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world. It's the tenth round. He's bloodied. His corner man, Mick, who in this case, I guess, would be the Vice President, he's yelling, "Cut me, Dick, cut me!" And every time he falls, everyone says, "Stay down, Rocky! Stay down!" But does he stay down? No. Like Rocky, he gets back up, and in the end he -- actually loses in the first movie. Okay, doesn't matter. Doesn’t matter.

The point is it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face, so don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say that 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't...

I stand by this man. I stand by this man, because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things, things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops in the world.
I'm sorry, I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist, telling us what is or isn't true or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American! I'm with the President. Let history decide what did or did not happen.
He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will.
FOX News gives you both sides of every story: the President's side, and the Vice President's side.
The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!
So, the White House has personnel changes. And then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring! If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!
It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

). Just talking some Sicilian with my paisan...

John McCain is here. John McCain, what a maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. This guy could have used a spoon! There's no predicting him. By the way, Senator McCain, it's so wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I’ve actually got a summer house in South Carolina. Look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light, sir.

Mayor Nagin! Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I'd like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a Mallomar, I guess, is what I'm describing, is a Mallomar. It’s a seasonal cookie.
And, of course, we can't forget the man of the hour, new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret Service name: "Snow Job." Toughest job. What a hero! Took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq. Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Big shoes to fill. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, of course, eager to retire, really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card's children.

Now, Mr. President, I wish you hadn't made the decision so quickly, sir. I was vying for the job myself. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people. I know how to handle these clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape, and with your indulgence, I'd like to at least give it a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.BEGINNING OF "AUDITION TAPE"Colbert shows a video of a mock press conference. It opens with him at a podium, addressing the White House press corps.COLBERT: I have a brief statement: the press is destroying America. OK, let's see who we've got here today.COLBERT (acknowledging various reporters): Stretch! (David Gregory nods)Sir Nerdlington! (reporter nods)Sloppy Joe! (reporter nods)Terry Lemon Moran Pie! (Terry Moran nods)Oh, Doubting Thomas, always a pleasure. (Helen Thomas smiles)And Suzanne Mal -- hello!!(Suzanne Malveaux stares at Colbert, looking unhappy. Colbert mimics putting a phone to his ear and mouths "call me.")REPORTER: Will the Vice President be available soon to answer all questions himself?COLBERT: I've already addressed that question.

You (pointing to another reporter).REPORTER: Walter Cronkite, the noted CBS anchor --COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, no, he's the former CBS anchor. Katie Couric is the new anchor of the CBS Evening News. Well, well, how do you guys feel about that?You, tousle-haired guy in the back. Are you happy about Katie Couric taking over the CBS Evening News?DAN RATHER: No, sir, Mr. Colbert. Are you? (Laughter)COLBERT: Boom! Oh, look, we woke David Gregory up. Question?DAVID GREGORY: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?COLBERT: I don't know. I'll ask him.(Colbert turns to Rove) Karl, pay attention please! (Rove is seen drawing a heart with "Karl + Stephen" written on it.)GREGORY: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl, and Elliott Abrams, and Scooter Libby, and you said "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me that they are not involved in this." Do you stand by that statement?COLBERT: Nah, I was just kidding!GREGORY: No, you're not finishing.

You're not saying anything! You stood at that podium and said --COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, that's where you're wrong. New podium! Just had it delivered today. Get your facts straight, David.GREGORY: This is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell the people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got to --(Colbert is seen looking at three buttons on the podium, labeled "EJECT," "GANNON" and "VOLUME." He selects the "VOLUME" button and turns it. We see Gregory's lips continue moving, but can't hear any sound coming out.)COLBERT: If I can't hear you, I can't answer your question. I'm sorry! I have to move on. Terry.

TERRY MORAN: After the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said --