Four Horsemen of the Apopcalypse – Pop culture references in The Colbert Report: March 8-11, 2010


Welcome to No Fact Zone’s weekly roundup of cultural references on The Colbert Report. From Darcy to Danger Mouse, String Theory to Shakespeare, we’ve got the keys to this week’s obscure, oddball, and occasionally obscene cultural shout-outs (hey!).

Hey Zoners!  The week started off with a smile, when Stephen responded to Monday’s opening audience cheers by saying “Man, that has all the makings of a great tune.”  Which naturally ensured I’d be humming **”Stephen, Stephen” all week. Not a bad thing!  What were your favorite bits?  Post them in the comments!  (** = TCR/TDS link)

Note: There’s no Thursday segment in this week’s Apopcalypse because as you read this, I’m on a train headed to NYC, where I plan to visit grown-up museums, eat in grown-up restaurants, and oh yeah, on Monday I’ll attend my first taping of the show. Wahoo!

Monday:  Action Center – Healthcare  Bill & Tom Hanks

“Those bold words reminded me of when FDR told our troubled nation ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself, unless, what do you guys think?'”

Timeless words from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech, on 4 March 1933.  At the time, the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression, facing economic crisis and growing international uncertainty.  C-Span has great archival footage of FDR’s inauguration (for the quote referenced above, skip to 2:50).   Really, though, what was so bad about the Great Depression?  **As Stephen says, at least it was Great.  In the mood for more Roosevelts? Go watch **Stephen Settles the Debate: FDR vs. TR (presidential fancy boy pictures, rough riders, an FDR impersonation, and my favorite tie = win win win!).

“Just make me the evil Pope in your next Dan Brown movie.”

Author Dan Brown has made a career out of fashioning novels around mysteries and conspiracy theories about early Christianity and the Catholic Church.  His novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons have both been adapted into films starring Tom Hanks.  Stephen has had some success with Brown’s methodology, too, in his use of ** The DaColbert Code to predict Oscar winners.

“My Uncle Eddie… was in the 101st Airborne, he was in Fox Company. He was there from D-Day all the way to Berchtesgaden.”

That’s a pretty incredible family link to some of the biggest historical events of the 20th century.   A parachute division of the U.S. Army, the 101st Airborne trained at Currahee Mountain, Camp Toccoa, Georgia.  They first saw combat on D-Day, when they were airdropped behind German lines to secure targets behind Utah Beach in advance of the full invasion.  After devastating losses at Normandy, the 101st took part in the Battle of the Bulge, and ended the war tracking down Nazi leaders at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s vacation retreat.

And for those of you who are curious about the series title, Band of Brothers comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V, in the King’s St. Crispin’s Day speech to his troops just before battle:

“And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother”

More culture after the fold!

Tuesday: The Word – Define & Conquer & Annie Leonard

“No! We can’t lose Rush. If he leaves, who will make fun of people with Parkinson’s? When the rest of us do it, it seems kind of mean.”

Mental note: Don’t make fun of people with Parkinson’s.  Who says you can’t learn valuable things from TV?  Actor Michael J. Fox has suffered from Parkinson’s since 1991, and has since become a vocal advocate and supporter of research into its causes and treatments.  In 2006, when Fox recorded an ad promoting stem cell research, the ever-classy Limbaugh mocked his physical symptoms, jumping and twitching for the camera, calling the ad a shameless fakery.  Thank goodness **Stephen leaped to Rush’s defense.

“The nuclear option may not sound evil enough.” [I Hear The Name “Blackwater” Is Free]

After numerous allegations of corruption, weapons smuggling, and indiscriminate killing of civilians (as summarized in a previous Apopcalypse), “private security” firm Blackwater was unhappy with its image worldwide.  The solution? Rebranding!  (You thought I was going to say policy changes and improved training? Ha!)  Blackwater simply changed their name to the entirely indistinct and unmemorable “Xe Services”. Problem solved!

“Exactly. Getting and spending we increase our powers”

Ok, mark me as a poetry nerd, but I laughed pretty hard at this skillful misquote.  The referenced poem is “The World Is Too Much with Us”,  published in 1807 by Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth’s sonnet decries the drive toward decadence and materialism which distances us from the natural world:  “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers”

Wednesday:  Health Care Vote Information Nerve Center

Charlie Cook: “The last edition of Profiles in Courage has already gone to the printer.”

As a first term Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy collected stories about U.S. Senators who risked their political careers in the name of integrity, by crossing party lines or defying public opinion.  He published the stories (probably largely written by Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen) in a 1955 biography called Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize, and established Kennedy as a viable contender for a later presidential bid.


  1. Thanks for the references, Wren! I always enjoy Four Horsemen, because it turns out there are things I didn’t “get” on the show. (And I call myself an it-getter. Hah!)


  2. I always love the references as well. That poetry reference was a very good and interesting catch.

    Are you some type of history buff or a writer on the show blogging anonymously =p

  3. lockhart43 says:

    Thank you so much for that FDR vs. TR clip. The Two River tie! I love that tie. :D

    Have fun at your first taping!

  4. Have fun, wren! :)

    captcha: dickiest states


  5. HAVE A GREAT TIME AT YOUR FIRST TAPING!!!! I went to a taping last month, and it was an absolutely marvelous time!!

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