This week brought two very special episodes of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. They were titled “Been There, Won That: The Returnification of the American-Do Troopscape.” In them, Stephen Colbert welcomed home our U.S. Armed Forces from Iraq. Airing with live feed to Iraq and Afghanistan on Wednesday, and with feed to Afghanistan and Walter Reed on Thursday, the audience was made up entirely of active duty military and veterans. Colbert served them hot dogs and beer, and brought in grass for them to put their feet on, as they had been in the desert.
The half-hour episodes were basically a love fest for the troops, and I’m not complaining about that. If anyone deserves praise heaped on them, it is our men and women in uniform. Among the guests Colbert had on were Vice President Joe Biden, singer John Legend, General Ray Odierno, and soldiers Brent Cummings and Josh Bleill. Bleill lost both legs in Iraq, and after less than two years of recovery, can run and waterski on his new legs. He wrote a book about the experience titled One Step At A Time. Odierno was the man who shaved Colbert’s head when the latter took his show to the Middle East last year.
Despite all the positive energy, the episodes were not without some pokes and criticisms. For instance, Colbert joked that we had won the Iraq War many times already, and since we still have nearly 50,000 troops over there, aren’t they being asked to win it again? But most of those negatives were softballs, not the scathing rhetoric Colbert is known for. I’d say the most awkward moment came when Colbert asked Joe Biden to thank former President George W. Bush for his part in Iraq. Personally, I see no reason to thank him, but Biden said some very nice things and came out looking classy.
At one point, Colbert was invited to Afghanistan, but seemed reluctant to agree to go, and sidestepped the request. I don’t blame him. Whether he goes or not, tune into The Colbert Report Monday through Thursday nights at 11:30 on Comedy Central. It’s always a laugh.