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« Bush: Best orator ever? | Page One | Groundhog predicts sectarian violence »

Truthiness in the No Spin Zone

By John Breneman

Did you see the bizarro world meeting between the nation's most bombastic ego and the truthy satirist who plays him on cable TV?

Yes, it was Bill O'Reilly meets Stephen Colbert -- the first-ever No Spin Zone Twilight Zone Colbert Nation Lovefest Smackdown. (Palooza?) These two titans of broadcasting traded appearances on each other's programs last night, "The O'Reilly Factor" (top-rated cable news show, 8 p.m. on Fox) and "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central).

Hosting first was O'Reilly, the blustery master of sound and fury signifying whatever he tells his viewers/devotees it signifies. Later, O'Reilly's visit was trumpeted as a historic summit by Colbert, widely acclaimed for wielding irony like a blunt instrument in his O'Reilly-based persona.

"You're about to watch me enter a No Spin Zone," Colbert said at the top of his show, having confessed earlier to the man he calls Papa Bear that O'Reilly's version of "no spin" gives him "vertigo."

Colbert had also admitted that "emulating" O'Reilly was taking a toll. "I haven't seen my kids in 18 months and I'm losing calcium in my bones," the actor told O'Reilly on "The Factor."

"What keeps you going?" he asked. "Jesus Christ or Pat Robertson's protein shakes?" Just a little jab at O'Reilly's prominent stature among the religious righteous.

Back in Colbert Nation, Fauxreilly set the stage by unveiling a mischievous "Mission Accomplished" banner to commemorate his own ability get O'Reilly on the show (and to tweak conservatism's blind loyalty to the bumbling war president).

Colbert then excitedly opened the last door on "my Bill O'Reilly advent calendar," complete with the beatific Baby O'Reilly in the manger.

Colbert's genius extends to gesture, as when he disarmed O'Reilly's "Culture War" cult of personality by slapping a 30% off sticker over the self-important author's book cover mug (evoking David Letterman's famous "About 60% of what you say is crap" in-your-facer to the TV bully).

When Colbert popped his most loaded question -- "Which is destroying America more: activist judges, gay marriage, illegal immigration or NBC?" -- Blowreilly gobbled the bait and blurted "NBC." (He also weaved in this fair and balanced analysis of The New York Times: "They're scum.")

O'Reilly took a shot at calling Colbert out when he characterized the two camps in his beloved, breadwinning culture war as "secular progressives like yourself and traditionalists like me." And he couldn't resist trotting out his "stoned slacker" soundbite in reference to the audience demographic watching "The Daily Show" and presumably "Colbert."

On his home turf, O'Reilly attempted to "nail" his mocker by accusing him of having changed the pronunciation of his last name from Colbert with a hard T to the French-sounding Colbert.

At one point O'Reilly awkwardly bellowed, "Are you COL-bert or Col-BEAR?!?" Colbert, who must have been cracking up inside, simply praised his host for the gale-force volume of his question.

During O'Reilly's interview we learned that Colbert's middle name is Tyrone. (Or did we?) Regular viewers already know he regards bears as "giant marauding godless killing machines."

Afterward, he brought in talking heads to ask them why people love Colbert yet loathe O'Reilly, who is regularly named the day's "Worst Person on the World" on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and who is immortalized in such lefty books as "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" by Al Franken (O'Reilly sued in a failed attempt to block distribution of the latter book, which describes him as "a lying, splotchy bully").

One of the heads (Bernard Goldberg, Fox News Analyst) concluded, "We live in a cynical age," therefore "smart-ass wiseguys" are seen as "cutting edge." (Finally.) The anti-O'Reilly concluded his big day by revealing that he had stolen a large microwave oven from the Fox studio.

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, includes my Web site ( on his "Enemies List" (, making me a card-carrying member of the liberal smart-ass wiseguy media.

Posted on January 19, 2007 9:04 AM | Permalink

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