Episode 4153 (12/01/2008)

“I’m back from Thanksgiving break — now you have something to be thankful for. This is The Colbert Report!”

My Jalalabad: “Tonight! I check in on the War in Afghanistan. I can’t wait to see how it’s fixed itself while I haven’t been paying attention.”

  • Stephen’s challenge to the Nation: A Colbert Christmas should be #1 on iTunes
  • Desk guest: Khaled Hosseini (UN goodwill envoy and author, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) talks about the War in Afghanistan

No Buy List: “Then: Who’s on my ‘Naughty’ list? Hint: It’s just the phone book with my name crossed out. I’m kidding — I’m not in the phone book.”

  • Tip/Wag: The All-Wag Christmas Edition
    • National Toy Hall of Fame
    • Barbie™
    • Order of St. Nick greeting card company

Pay Grade: “And my guest Roland Fryer is an economist studying whether cash incentives inspire students to improve their grades. I’ll say yes, if he pays me.”

  • Main guest: Roland Fryer: Economist, educational innovator


A Thousand Splendid Suns

In closing: “That’s it for The Report, everybody. Good night.”

Video Highlight: Tip/Wag – All Wag Christmas Edition Stephen always thought any card that was blank inside was atheist, but one un-American greeting card company goes a step further.

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


  • Good to have you with us, everybody, in here and out there. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving; I know I did. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to everyone who helped make the soundtrack to my Christmas special, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, the #1 album on iTunes! I — I would like to, but I can’t. Because my album is currently #16, despite glowing reviews like “The most significant thing to happen to Christmas since Jesus”, by such distinguished critics as “notstephencolbert”.
  • Now, I don’t blame you, the heroes. You’re probably still watching repeats of the Christmas special. You know, there’s something new in every viewing: [whispers] commercials! No, I blame the artist who is currently at #1: sunglasses display mannequin Kanye West. He tops the list with his album 808s & Heartbreak.
  • Now, I am a humble person. When I finally have my name laser-etched onto the moon, it won’t be in a fancy font like Palatino. No, I’m using Courier, the working man’s typeface.
  • That is why I am so furious that an egomaniac like Kanye is beating me. The man has no shame! Listen to this recent quote, “I will go down as the voice of this generation of this decade.” Sir, you are not this voice of this generation of this decade. In fact, with all the Auto-Tuning on your records, you’re barely the voice of your own albums.
  • You wanna be the voice of a generation? Get in line. It goes me, Obama Girl, the FreeCreditReport.com guys, then it’s a tie between you and Crocs.
  • Nation, there is only one way to stop Kanye’s arrogance, and that is with my arrogance.
  • I have to knock Kanye West’s album from the #1 spot on iTunes and replace it with A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! This is war, and I’m calling for a surge.
  • Nation, buy my album on iTunes this Wednesday at exactly 5pm Eastern. This will propel it to the #1 spot, and possibly crash the national power grid. But Kanye will be forced to admit that *I* am the voice of this generation of this decade, of this Wednesday at 5pm Eastern.
  • Nation, today President Obama announced his National Security Team, a so-called “Team of Rivals”. But look at these people, they obviously know nothing about national security; only one guy knew to wear a fake moustache.
  • Now, Obama has made clear where his focus will be. [montage of clips of Obama talking about Afghanistan] Yes, Afghanistan — which is currently tied for the world’s fourth-most troubled “-stan”.
  • The good news is, now that we’re focused on it, this Afghan War will take a few days, tops; maybe a week if you’re a Gloomy Gus. ‘Cause all we’re dealing with is a country that hasn’t been conquered since Alexander the Great and a people whose idea of a good time is playing polo with a headless goat carcass. It’s called Buzkashi, and I am not making this up.
  • But on our side, we’ve got invincible general and human war justification David Petraeus, who is now in charge of Central Command. Sir, your hard work in the desert has been rewarded with a cushy mountain getaway. Plus, we’ve got our staunch ally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He rules that place with an iron fist … which, coincidentally, also wears a funny hat.
  • And our most potent weapon — say it with me — Al Roker! You see, the Taliban is funding themselves through heroin sales. So we need to make heroin uncool. The best way to do that is to get Al Roker hooked on smack. Al, it’s time to hop up on that pony! Just think of it as gastric bypass in a syringe.
  • Point is, this Afghan War should be a piece of cake. Or in this case, a piece of Kadu Bouranee, which I believe is also made from a headless goat carcass.
  • Now, here to confirm my belief that winning the war in Afghanistan will be easy is bestselling author and real life Afghanistan-person Khaled Hosseini.
  • Now, everybody knows you from The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, now available in paperback … by the way, I think a thousand splendid suns? A little greedy by the Afghanis. In your opinion, what does Afghanistan need to get back on its feet?
    • Hosseini: Well, I mean, first of all, just listening to your intro, we — and I know you don’t want to hear this — but we have to be patient with Afghanistan.
    • Stephen: But I don’t do patient.
    • Hosseini: Well, we have to be patient.
    • Stephen: Americans don’t do pa — isn’t there a drive-thru window we could use in Afghanistan?
    • Hosseini: You gave Axl Rose seventeen years, man; you can give Afghanistan — !
    • Stephen: [acknowledging the point] Yes. But —
    • Hosseini: — for Chinese Democracy!
    • Stephen: He *achieved* Chinese Democracy; I don’t know if we’ll acheive Afghani Democracy; will we do that?
    • Hosseini: Well, we have to. We don’t have a choice, because, you know, the job there, like a friend of mine says, it’s not a 100 yard dash; it’s a marathon. And it has to be judged not in —
    • Stephen: So, the Kenyans are going to win it?
    • Hosseini: [laughing] You know, Afghanistan has very serious obstacles. It’s really from thirty years of warfare, destruction of every meaningful institution, and it’s a country that it’s going to take a long time to recover.
    • Stephen: Can a ‘surge‘ work? Can we ‘surge’ our way out of this?
    • Hosseini: I keep hearing that word, but —
    • Stephen: Surge!
    • Hosseini: Can you tell me the last time a foreign country won a war on Afghan soil?
    • Stephen: Uh, Alexander the Great.
    • Hosseini: There you go. How long ago was that?
    • Stephen: Uh, 1947 … [Hosseini laughing] I’m not good with dates; I don’t know. [Editor’s note: It was sometime around 330-325 B.C., according to the ‘internets’.]
    • Hosseini: Exactly. You know, it remains to be seen whether a military solution in Afghanistan is possible, let alone likely.
    • Stephen: Do they, do they want — do the Afghan people really want a solution … ?
    • Hosseini: Yeah, Afghan people do, definitely, want change. They’re — you know, they’ve gone through thirty years of war with the Soviets, the civil war against the Taliban, bin Ladin, 9/11; they’re ready for a change.
    • Stephen: Afghanistan itself has become synonymous with … something of a downer right now. What if Afghanistan “rebranded” itself, just got a new name? What if it became “Sunnytown” or “Laugh-ghanistan?”
    • Hosseini: [laughing]
    • Stephen: Wouldn’t that be — and then it would just be like, “Oh! That seems like a nice place!”
    • Hosseini: You know what, the Afghan people actually are very, very bright people. You know, there was a poll in Afghanistan that was done by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission couple of years ago, and it asked something like 15,000 people in thirty-two provinces, “How optimistic do you feel about your future?” Do you know how many, what percentage of Afghan people actually felt optimistic about their future? Eighty-five percent.
    • Stephen: Wow.
    • Hosseini: Now, you do that poll in this country … I wonder what kind of answer you would get.
    • Stephen: You’re actually a great example for the Afghani people. You grew up there, you fled the country and now are an international literary sensation. Why don’t more Afghanis do that?
    • Hosseini: [laughing]
    • Stephen: Would you recommend that to your fellow countrymen? Is life working out well for you?
    • Hosseini: Very good — I’m not your typical Afghani. I’ve had a very, very fortunate life.
    • Stephen: Do all Afghanis not wear ties to interviews? [Editor’s note: That *so* feels like a shout out to WordsWithGrace‘s BEA question.]
    • Hosseini: [laughing] This is my shtick.
    • Stephen: [laughing] I understand. Khaled Hosseini, thank you so much for joining us!
  • Welcome back, everybody. Folks, you’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, you’d better not pout, I’m tellin’ you why: because Santa’s not the only one passing judgment around here. This is Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger: Special All Wag Christmas Edition!
  • That’s all Daddy’s got in his sack. [beat] Not all, but it’s all I’m pullin’ out tonight.
  • Now the first Wag of my Finger goes to the National Toy Hall of Fame — by the way, nice logo. Ya blow the whole budget on that? — who, alongside with such beloved toys as the Slinky® and the EASY-BAKE Oven, recently inducted The Stick.
  • Museum curator Christopher Bensch praised The Stick, saying, “It’s all-natural, the perfect price …” Wrong! “Free” is never the perfect price. Retailers depend on holiday toy sales but, thanks to Mr. Bensch here, parents are going to realize that sticks literally grow on trees.
  • You know, he makes me so mad, I want to poke him in the eye with not a stick, but a Star Wars Force Fx authentic replica lightsaber! Just $79.99.
  • Bensch goes on to say, “This toy is … not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and especially dogs playing with it.” If our pets are content playing with sticks, what will happen to stores selling actual products like sushi dog toys or squeaky plush jewelry boxes from “Sniffany & Co.”? Not to mention the fine people at “Otter Nonsense”, America’s #1 otter and otter-related accessory store.
  • Speaking of accessories, a Wag of my Finger at Barbie™, who has gone green with the new Barbie™ BCause line of eco-friendly accessories for girls made from scraps and trimmings of other Barbie™ products.
  • Barbie™ is not about conserving, folks! She’s about driving around in her “Barbie Corvette”, practicing her hair and make-up on the “Fashion Fever Barbie Styling Head”, and then deciding whether this is an “Enchanting Seasons” night or a “Flowers in Fashion” night, before heading out dancing with her cousins Francie and Jazzie. Or so I have been told.
  • Folks, conservation goes against everything Barbie™ stands for! If she could possibly stand on her impossibly arched, pymgy feet.
  • Finally, a Wag of my Finger at the Order of St. Nick greeting card company, who has created a line of Christmas cards for atheists.
  • Now, I always thought that any card that was blank inside was already atheist; you open it up and you see nothing but a void. But this un-American greeting card company has gone a step further, making cards such as a chart of evolution ending in Santa Claus and Charles Darwin in a Santa hat. Darwin is no Santa! I once wrote to Darwin asking for a G.I. Joe Battle Fortress, and all I got back was a mangrove finch! Sure, it had a slightly more graduated beak than last year’s, but … but still.
  • Plus, once atheists start sending Christmas cards, how long before they’re including their year-end atheist updates? All right. Okay [reading]:
    • Dear Friends and Family,
      In March, little Jimmy surprised us by saying his first complete sentence, “God is Dead.” Suzy’s wedding was like a dream. We all cried when the City Clerk stamped the form and asked if they had any outstanding parking tickets. Sadly, Grandpa passed away this year, but at least we know he’s not in a better place, he’s decomposing.
      Merry X-Mas.
  • Nation, you cannot take the “Christ” out of “Christmas” … any more than you can take the “Christ” out of Crystal Light. Drinking a deliciously sweet beverage and not putting on a pound? That’s a miracle.
  • My guest tonight is an economist studying whether cash incentives inspire students to learn more. If it works, look forward to Secretary of Education Alex Trebek. Please welcome Roland Fryer!
  • Now, sir, you are an economist … so, you study facts and statistics and everything like that and you try to put it into a model of the universe that we can understand human behavior by, right?
    • Fryer: Not just one universe. Right.
    • Stephen: Not just one universe? [laughing] All universes?
    • Fryer: Absolutely.
    • Stephen: All right … Now, you say that blacks are the worst-performing ethnic group in our school system. Excuse me. That is a pretty racist thing for you to say.
    • Fryer: You know —
    • Stephen: It’s a pretty racist thing. I may or may not be black; I don’t know.
    • Fryer: I hear you.
    • Stephen: Okay? But I am offended by that statement.
    • Fryer: I hear you. And you know, you’re not the first person to call me racist.
    • Stephen: I’m not?
    • Fryer: No.
    • Stephen: I was hoping I would be the first.
    • Fryer: [laughing] It’s not racism, it’s reality. All right? The achievement gap in this country is our biggest civil rights concern. We’ve got fifteen million kids in the United States that can’t read at grade level. So these are facts and reality; this is not a racist —
    • Stephen: But at what level do they watch TV? Reading is overblown, my friend.
    • Fryer: I agree with you.
    • Stephen: You agree?
    • Fryer: I absolutely agree; I watch a lot of TV …
    • Stephen: Do you watch this show?
    • Fryer: No.
    • Stephen: Thank you so much for joining us.
  • Let’s say I’m a ninth grader, I pull down an A. What do I get?
    • Fryer: Fifty dollars per class.
    • Stephen: Fifty bucks per class?!
    • Fryer: That’s right.
    • Stephen: Per year? Or like, per semester, or like what?
    • Fryer: Per every five weeks.
    • Stephen: That is some long green, my brother!
    • Fryer: Exactly. You’re black now, aren’t you?
    • Stephen: Yeah! You know, I — I just might be, because I did terribly in school and, by your own logic, that would make me black.
    • Fryer: That’s why I brought something for you [pulls out a $20]; just in case you ask any good questions.
    • Stephen: [laughing] … Okay, let me earn that. Okay, I’ve got a question for you: I get fifty dollars for an A?
    • Fryer: That’s right.
    • Stephen: Let’s see. Now, here’s a math question for you …
    • Fryer: Uh-oh.
    • Stephen: If Danny gives Johnny $10 to copy his homework, then the teacher gives Danny $50 for turning in his homework for an A, how much money does Danny have left to give Johnny for tomorrow’s homework?
    • Fryer: [laughing]
    • Stephen: The answer is, Danny has no idea, because it was his math homework. Can this … I love this. This is making the free market make kids learn.
    • Fryer: That’s right!
    • Stephen: It is!
  • How has it worked so far? I mean, two years in New York …
    • Fryer: We don’t know yet. We don’t know yet.
    • Stephen: You don’t know?
    • Fryer: We don’t know. We haven’t evaluated the numbers.
    • Stephen: It’s all a theory.
    • Fryer: I’m a professor; what do you expect?
    • Stephen: [laughing] Um, what is wrong with the older generation’s way of doing things, where they paid kids to do well in school by not opening up a can of unholy whup ass …?
    • Fryer: Oh man, you know … [laughing]
    • Stephen: That was the currency I was raised with.
    • Fryer: I hear you, you know, my … In fact, when I first came out with this program, my grandmother called me up and — she was a schoolteacher for thirty-seven years — and she said, “You stole my idea! I had the first incentive program; it was called the ‘go get your own belt’ program.”
    • Stephen: [laughing] Yes.
    • Fryer: She beat you to the punch.
    • Stephen: Yeah. Yes, and — and she beat the children into submission.
  • *Stephen grabs the money out from underneath a laughing Fryer as they cut to commercial!*

Fangirl Suit Report: Black suit (black on black stripes), silver-grey shirt with two-button barrel cuffs. Claret tie with geometric pattern. WristSTRONG bracelet.

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