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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 2, 2006; 8:12 AM

Forget immigration, gas prices, Iraq or Iran. The blogosphere is aflame over one of the most shocking and jaw-dropping public appearances of the modern era.

We're talking about Stephen Colbert.

Now you might think that a professional comedian hurling barbs at the White House Correspondents Dinner might be graded on a simple scale: funny or not funny.

You would be so wrong.

Colbert was devastating. He practically punched the president in the stomach. He did what all those sniveling, lapdog journalists have failed to do for the last five years!

At least, that's what the liberal bloggers say.

The conservative bloggers just say he bombed.

The liberal bloggers say he bombed because the assembled journalists were so uncomfortable. (I wasn't there, but Colbert took plenty of shots at the White House press corps, who are of course a juicy target.)

What's more, you may be interested to know that there's a MEDIA COVERUP of the Colbert performance. The MSM don't want you to know about how the Comedy Central man made them look bad! (Never mind that the thing was carried on C-SPAN and the video is widely available online. I played two clips of Colbert on my CNN show, so apparently I didn't get the memo.)

My reading is that Colbert zinged Bush as a 32-percenter a number of times and zinged the press (those 'clowns,' as he put it) an equal number of times, all in the character of the blowhard pundit he plays on television and all within the usual boundaries for such dinners. But these days, even a comic's performance sparks fierce left/right debates.

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse sounds like he's starting to defend Colbert:

"I disagree with those on the right who are skewering Stephen Colbert for his performance at the White House Correspondents dinner on Saturday night. Much of it was actually pretty funny. It's just a pity that Colbert, in his ignorance, never realized that people were laughing at him rather than at what he was saying.

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