Episode 4134 (10/20/2008)

“If your actions speak louder than words, you’re not yelling loud enough. This is The Colbert Report!”

Every Cloud Has a Cheap Tin Lining: “Tonight! The upside of the economic meltdown. Did you know that you can survive for weeks just by drinking your own tears?”

  • Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama
  • McCain campaign robocalls
  • First guest: Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International

Who Wants To Be a Thousandaire: “Then: Is your money safe or is it in a bank?”

  • Colbert Aluminum
    • The Cost of Living Extremely Well Index
    • Opening multiple bank accounts and a national PIN
    • “Stealth wealth”

The Horn Identity: “And my guest Wynton Marsalis has written a book on jazz. The interview will be unscripted and last for five hours.”


Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life

In closing: “Good night!”

Video Highlight: Wynton Marsalis — Wynton Marsalis and Stephen perform the “Star-Spangled Banner”.

R.A.P.S. – Vote on your favorite segment of the show here!

NOTABLE MOMENTS — Video links and more after the fold!

More Video Highlights, courtesy of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report website


  • Thank you so much for doing this; I hope you had a good weekend. Friday, I went antiquing upstate; Saturday, I did a little apple-picking; and then, Sunday, I was stabbed in the back by Colin Powell.
  • Here’s what the General said on Meet the Press: [Powell: “I think he is a transformational figure … and, for that reason, I will be voting for Senator Barack Obama.”] You want a “transformational figure”, Powell?! Endorse John McCain! This campaign has transformed him into everything he hated!
  • Of course, there’s one question — there’s one question, here, about this endorsement that, legally, we are required to ask. Pat Buchanan? [Buchanan: “We gotta ask a question, look … Would Colin Powell be endorsing Barack Obama if he were a white liberal Democrat?”] That bears repeating: Would Colin Powell be endorsing Barack Obama if he were a completely different person? It just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny!
  • So what is this endorsement really about, folks? Rush Limbaugh shouted the answer from his subterranean love-bunker. [Limbaugh: “It was totally about race!”] And Rush knows how African-Americans think. How else would he convince 100% of them not to listen to his radio show?
  • Folks, the fact is … Colin Powell has always made decisions based on race. For Pete’s sake! The Powell Doctrine, which says the United States shouldn’t enter a conflict unless it has a strong national interest and is ready to bring overwhelming force, is just another way of saying, “Once you go to Iraq, you never go back.”
  • So are we clear, here? The only reason Obama got this endorsement is because Colin Powell is black! Also, the only reason Adm. John Nathman, Brigadier Gen. James Smith, four-star General Merrill McPeak and twenty other military leaders have endorsed Obama is because Colin Powell is black.
  • Plus, how could Powell have ignored Obama’s connection to domestic terrorist William Ayers? They are best friends, as proven by this photo of them sharing an ice cream cone on Splash Mountain. It’s a fun ride.
  • But some Americans don’t care about an old, washed-up terrorist. [Clip of McCain: “I don’t care about an old, washed-up terrorist.”] Oh, you WILL care, Senator McCain! Once you get one of those robocalls from the McCain campaign. They are terrifying!
  • But in the latest polling, only 37% of likely voters think William Ayers is a legitimate issue. Meanwhile, seven in ten are anxious that their investments are losing money. Yes, people are scared. In fact, there’s something called the “Fear Index” that measures market volatility, or “fear”. Last week, the “Fear Index” hit an all time high. Even worse, the “Fear Index” is scared of heights.
  • Yeah, but everybody calm down. Nation, this economic crisis has a bright side. Now that the market’s tanked, there’s money to be made. Listen to Jim Cramer. [Cramer: “You’ve got a lot of companies that are beginning to show real yields, and therefore some, ah … trampoline fuel.”] See? Trampoline fuel. Not only will the market bounce back, but my dream of traveling across the country on a motorized trampoline will finally become a reality.
  • That’s why, folks, that’s why I was so excited when I heard the cover article of October 20th’s Newsweek is “The Bright Side”, by Fareed Zakaria. Now unfortunately, the article’s all about “learning lessons” from this crisis, how now we can “live within our means” and “invest in infrastructure” and “stop lining our gerbil cages with $100s”. But do you really think my gerbil’s going to burrow into $20s?! He’s not a turtle.
  • Here now to talk me out of putting a new plasma screen basketball court on my MasterCard is the editor of Newsweek International and the author of this article, please welcome Fareed Zakaria!
  • I love the color of this, here … I believe this color is called “Solar Flare”. Now you say in this article there’s a bright side in it, but the bright side is that we will stop spending money. [Zakaria, “That’s right”] Isn’t that the bright side of America, that we just keep spending money? We can have anything we want!
    • Zakaria: Well, you can, but if you’re actually not making the money and you’re spending it, you’re borrowing. And we’re borrowing money from the Chinese and the Saudis and the Japanese, so if we keep doing that, over time, you have to charge higher and higher interest rates because people won’t lend us money, because —
    • Stephen: Yeah, but we’ve been saying that for years! That we’ve got this big deficit or this debt, and we just keep going and everything’s fine.
    • Zakaria: Ah, have you noticed the last three weeks? It’s kind of — it didn’t work out so well.
    • Stephen: That’s because doom-criers like you are saying there’s a problem. If we just … if we just shop our way out of this problem — we shopped our way out of 9/11, can’t we shop our way out of this one, too?
    • Zakaria: Well, in a sense, in the short term, you’re probably right. The government will do a lot of spending —
    • Stephen: I’m right?
    • Zakaria: Yes. Yes.
    • Stephen: The editor of Newsweek International is saying I’m right.
    • Zakaria: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
    • Stephen: Somebody write that down.
    • Zakaria: … Like the broken clock. Twice a day. But in the short term, in the short term, you are going to have to spend more money. The government is basically saying, go out and spend money, here’s tax cuts; it’s spending money for us. It’s sort of like the drunk who’s being told, “Look, enroll in AA, but not yet. First keep … drink for a while longer.”
    • Stephen: Right. You want to brace yourself with a couple of shots before you go into the meeting.
    • Zakaria: Exactly. Hair of the dog that bit you, as they say … That’s a short term solution to get the economy moving. But in the long run, you can’t keep spending more than you make.
    • Stephen: Okay, but you say “The Bright Side”. What’s so bright about what’s happening right now?
    • Zakaria: The bright side is, we’ve been kicking the can down the road for twenty years. We’ve been spending money we didn’t have, we’ve been buying things we couldn’t afford, and it’s not just us, it’s government. Every state government, every city, the federal government, was basically doing stuff it couldn’t do … it couldn’t ask people to fund the government that they wanted, so it said, fine, we’ll go out and raise money; we’ll go out and borrow money. And after a …
    • Stephen: But what’s so wrong with that? It’s just like a credit card. It’s a government credit card; what’s so wrong with that?
    • Zakaria: Yeah, do you know the average American now has thirteen credit cards? I have two, so that probably means you have twenty-two. Right? Now, um, at some point, you can’t keep doing that, because … the only way people will lend you money if your balance sheet looks worse and worse is, you have to pay a lot of interest. You have to pay higher and higher interest rates, which means your growth goes down, your stock market portfolio will go down, you will have lower standards of living …
    • Stephen: But again, the question was, what’s the bright side? This is the bright side? The portfolio goes down, the stock … that’s the good thing? You’re saying the good part is it’s going to be so painful, we’re going to have to change.
    • Zakaria: We will have to save, and we have begun saving. The last few months, you see a sharp change — mainly because we’ve stopped spending, but the result is, American savings rates are going up. And they’ll have to keep going up.
    • Stephen: So it hurts so much that we do the right thing.
    • Zakaria: Exactly. You’re right again.
    • Stephen: So that’s like saying, that’s like saying that, you know, it’s great that I caught my wife cheating on me because it made me start going to the gym.
    • Zakaria: [laughing]
  • Welcome back! Folks, I’ve gotta say, I’m not immune. These tough economic times have hit me personally. Membership in my Colbert Platinum Club is at an all time low. Things have gotten so bad that I can’t fill the Colbert Platinum hot tub with champagne. Believe me, you’ll never feel more common than when your junk is soaking in sparkling wine.
  • So it is with some sadness that I introduce my new segment for the scaled-back high end viewer, Colbert Aluminum. Just a reminder, this segment is for Aluminum Members only. If you haven’t had a yacht repossessed in the last three months, please leave. Why don’t you go back to staring wistfully at that ad for winter coats?
  • Okay, everybody else, let’s get going. The first way to tighten your Yangtza dolphin leather belt is to move to a less expensive city. Fortunately, Forbes Magazine did an analysis using their “Cost of Living Extremely Well” index, a city by city comparison of the cost of such items as “… a Rolls-Royce Phantom … Petrossian caviar … [and] Sikorsky helicopter[s].” Remember, Sikorsky! You do not want to be seen in an America’s Choice helicopter.
  • And the most affordable city for unaffordable items? Paris, France. Parisians have always embraced the rich. In fact, they love the rich so much, they used to break them into separate parts so everyone could have some.
  • Best of all, the price of luxury goods stays low because, if you haggle with a French merchant, they instinctively surrender.
  • Of course, you’ll need to protect the money you have left. That’s why, according to Reuters, the world’s wealthiest are opening multiple accounts to help spread their risk. This is a great idea. Open as many bank accounts as possible. Hundreds of thousands of them. In fact, some banks are offering $50 gas cards for opening an account. And if you open enough of them, you could become a one-man Exxon. Then you would qualify for John McCain’s $4 billion tax break.
  • Of course, all of those accounts will mean a lot of ATM cards, and a lot of PIN numbers to remember. That’s why I am proposing a national PIN number: 9534. Nation, remember it, don’t write it down; someone might steal it.
  • Finally, we have — [totally unprovoked character break and F-bomb — ] Finally, we high net wealth players have to be careful not to rub our wealth in others’ faces. That’s why Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, recommends a strategy of “Stealth Wealth”, avoiding conspicuous consumption for a less flashy image. For example, the Luxury Institute is renaming itself “The Fancy Spot”.
  • Some of Pedraza’s great advice: “I don’t think you’ll want to show up in your orange Lamborghini … You might want to bring your navy blue BMW instead.” The key is, don’t look like a rich a-hole. Just a well-to-do jagoff.
  • Now, Pedraza also warns that we should “Forget $10,000 mobile phones and buy an iPhone instead.” Well, I went one better. I gave up my $310,000 Vertu Signature Cobra cell phone. It’s called the Cobra because when the market drops below 8000, it shoots venom into your neck. And I replaced it with a modest iPhone and spent the rest of the $310,000 on my new landline. Mmm … yes. It’s so fancy. It’s got all the numbers. Zero through nine, plus the number they don’t tell poor people about: threven.
  • Well, that’s it for Colbert Aluminum. Here’s hoping the economy turns around. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to eat my shoes. Thank goodness I wear veal shoes.
  • My guest tonight and I share something in common: We both like to blow our own horn. Please welcome Wynton Marsalis!
  • Thank you so much for coming on. I haven’t seen you since we shared a table at the “Time 100 Most Influential People in the World” dinner a couple years ago. How have you enjoyed your influence over the world?
    • Marsalis: I’ve been having a real hard time.
    • Stephen: Really? Goes to your head?
    • Marsalis: No, it’s people like you out here messin’ it up for me.
    • Stephen: Well you know what? You know what? Let’s … let’s move some paper for you and see how you feel about me then.
    • Marsalis: Okay.
    • Stephen: You’ve got a great new book called Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life. Now, now, what … interesting about this title, is there a flood coming? Is jazz causing global warming? What does that mean?
    • Marsalis: The flood is here right now.
    • Stephen: What’s going on?
    • Marsalis: That’s what you’ve been talking about; this flood of money that’s been stolen from us. That’s the flood.
    • Stephen: I wish, I wish the flood of money were still here. It’s something of a drought of money right now.
    • Marsalis: It certainly is. It’s in other people’s pockets, in full view. And jazz is a music of integrity, and it teaches us to listen. So you see, when you hear people tell you, “We’re taking your money to the tune of $150 billion in pork,” jazz teaches you to say, “Oh, okay, you’re stealing my money.”
    • Stephen: But I thought, I thought … I thought they liked pork in New Orleans. I thought they … knew how to cook it there.
    • Marsalis: The pork has got to be well-cooked; it has to be barbequed. We don’t like it served raw.
    • Stephen: Now what’s this about, you said jazz helps you listen?
    • Marsalis: Listen.
    • Stephen: And that’s how jazz can help change my life?
    • Marsalis: Listen, listen.
    • Stephen: But I don’t listen to anybody, and my life is going fine.
    • Marsalis: When you look around, you’re going to notice that there’s a lot wrong with your life.
    • Stephen: Well then, that’s all the more reason not to look around.
    • Marsalis: No, no. No, no.
    • Stephen: Let me ask you something. As a jazz musician, as a jazz great, um, do you ever get upset when people say — they look at some crappy job that someone’s done — and say, “Ah, it’s close enough for jazz.” Does that ever make you mad?
    • Marsalis: Sometimes it makes me mad to hear it. You know, sometimes I want to try to explain to them, “Well, what do you mean by jazz? Did you know that jazz was developed in 1896 and that jazz is America’s music and that jazz came from …” but they don’t want to hear it.
    • Stephen: That’s why I love jazz. Jazz is the quinessential art form and, if it’s American, I don’t care what it sounds like: It is the best in the world. You know, I play a little horn myself.
    • Marsalis: Do you?
    • Stephen: Yeah, I do. Jimmy, can we show him a little of “Hiphopketball: A Jazzebration”? [clip from “Hiphopketball” plays, while Marsalis tries to temper his grimaces] I don’t know if you’re hip enough to catch what I was layin’ down there.
    • Marsalis: You should be a music critic, man.
    • Stephen: [after laughing] Now, do you think … what can jazz teach us about transcending race?
    • Marsalis: Well, the music teaches us, like I said, to listen to one another and to understand our commonalities. All the greatest musicians — Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, down to the day, what we’re doing now — it’s about what we have in common, where we’re all coming from. And it takes us out of ignorance. Somebody’s always saying, “Well, jazz is so complicated; I don’t understand,” you know, “why should we have jazz; why should we teach it in school?” That’s like, “Why should we have color in shirts? Why should we read?”
    • Stephen: Because it hides the dirt [Marsalis: laughing], if you have a white shirt.
    • Marsalis: Right. That’s true.
    • Stephen: Thank you, very much. Thank you, very much.
    • Marsalis: That’s important. It’s like spice in food.
    • Stephen: [laughing] Yeah, you put the spice in the food, to cover up the fact that some of it might be a little bad.
    • Marsalis: You need that. And hey, we’re gonna need that, in the period that’s coming up.
    • Stephen: How do you, how do you — I’ve never been for an entire Jazz game. How do you win at jazz? Is there a point system?
    • Marsalis: Let me tell you what, when you start to play, and you see people jumping up and down in the audience, and hollering, screaming, wanting to get up on tables, and then some other people next to them have tears coming out their eyes, and another person is sleeping, and the whole room erupts in a volcano of feeling, you’ve won.
    • Stephen: Well, if you don’t mind, I — I wouldn’t mind trying to … This isn’t jazz, but this is perhaps the most beautiful song I know. And I wouldn’t mind showing you, you know, a little bit of my horn blowing, and we could play something together.
    • Marsalis: All right.
  • *Freaking AWESOME “horn” duet ensues!*
  • Wynton Marsalis, everybody!

Fangirl Suit Report: Navy suit, blue-grey shirt with multicolored pinstripes and single-button barrel cuffs. Navy tie with geometric pattern. WristSTRONG bracelet.


  1. The duet was absolutely fangasmic(I just coined a new word!). Stephen should really start thinking about putting out an album of all the musical segments from the show.

    • ColbertGirl27 says:

      I think it’s just a matter of when at this point. If I were in the marketing department at TCR, I would jump at the chance to put out an album.

  2. I voted for the interview with Marsalis because of that duet. It was so fun! I also enjoyed the interview with Zakaria and Colbert Aluminum made me LOL.

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