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Colbert brings change to Washington, D.C.

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Just a month ago, I wrote about Glenn Beck’s bringing of God to the National Mall. I mentioned the blood, the lepers, the smiting of innocents, and I believed that was about as much action as the Mall was going to get this semester.

But I was incorrect. Yes, in just one month’s time, a battle is coming to the green spaces of D.C.: a battle between good and evil, between black and white, between sanity and fear, between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. On Oct. 30, 2010, these two Comedy Central satirical news show hosts will seemingly wage war on each other in Washington, D.C.

I first saw the announcement of these battling rallies in my normal Internet perusing, likely sent the link to a few friends, and said, “Ha ha” or maybe even “lol” — what a funny joke to mock Mr. Beck. How hilarious that every TV show host can now enjoy his celebrity influence and host his own rally.

Stewart and Colbert are bringing their particular brand of politics to Washington in more than one way. Last week, Colbert was invited to testify in front of a Congressional subcommittee by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D–Calif.), who had worked a farm with the pundit for a day.

And Colbert responded in extravagant Colbert Report-style with a traveling road show, right into the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Security. Yes, he brought his “star power” right into the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol, pushing his satirical political commentary to the level of Congressional testimony. Yet, while rife with jokes about his expertise on migrant labor, his colonoscopy, fruit-human hybrids, and the shirked responsibilities of Congress, Colbert did actually deliver a real message. And while I will not delve into the politics surrounding immigration and migrant workers in this country (see page A6 for that), I will continue to question the roles that Colbert and Stewart play in American politics.

In theory, they could be written off as hacks — members of the Comedy Central family who have thrived in unison with The Sarah Silverman Show and Reno 911!. But what if they have become something larger than simply farce and comedic news reporting?

It seems they already have. This rally is not a joke on cable television mocking the tens of thousands of people who came to hear Glenn Beck be touched by God before Abraham Lincoln — this rally is (as far as I can tell) going to become an actual event. An actual political rally to both restore sanity and keep fear alive, and it is going to do so just days before the midterm elections.

So, I hope this rally is an actual political rally. One that energizes the more liberal audiences that appreciate Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows. One that excites young voters to go out and participate in an election that might not be as historic as electing a black president, but one that will be just as important in helping him maintain a Congress that will at least try to support his reforms. I want this rally to at least continue to leverage Colbert and Stewart’s excellent abilities to use humor to point out the pure ridiculousness of the positions, beliefs, and statements of many of the Republican candidates this fall. That is, I want the Tea Party to be laughed out of Washington, D.C. before they even arrive.

I have often said that I hate politics and I hate funny things. But it is possible that, in the case of these two absurd rallies, two wrongs do make something that just feels right. So whether you support fear or sanity (I support both, of course), I will see you in D.C.