She Says Tomayto, He Says Tomahto . . .

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Did Eleanor Holmes Norton get the joke when she appeared Thursday on Comedy Central's fake-news cult favorite "The Colbert Report"? D.C.'s congressional delegate says she not only got it, she figured out how to beat Colbert at his own game.

"I went in there determined not to be his victim," Norton told us on Friday. The mistake her colleagues make, she said, is answering Stephen Colbert as if he were a real reporter. "I thought I should be very straight, don't laugh, answer him with answers as ridiculous as his questions were and to use my law professor background."

The reviews were sharply divided: those who thought Norton was clueless and those who thought she was hilarious. Our take? By playing the perfect straight man, Norton came off much wittier than those congressfolk who try to be funny on the show. Some highlights:

Colbert : I checked your voting record. You have not voted once while you've been in office. You want to defend that?

Norton: Well, our government is imposing taxes on the residents of the District of Columbia without giving us a vote in the House and the Senate --

Colbert : Isn't that for states? . . . You're not in the United States, you're in the District of Columbia . . .

Norton: You are the first to suggest that the nation's capital is not in the United States.

Colbert : . . . But you're not a state, just by definition. Aren't you not in the United States? You have to give me that, that that doesn't make much sense .

Norton: Oh, I don't give you that. [Norton goes on the offensive] Col-BARE, or COLE-bert, which is it?

Colbert : It's Col-BARE, we don't pronounce the "t."

Norton: Oh, you take the French [pronunciation], do you? . . . Is that where you're from, your family? . . . Anybody who pronounces Colbert Col-BARE is not from the United States! Which part of France are you from?

Colbert: Oh, really, you want to tell people of Louisiana they're not from the United States?

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