Special Long-Shot Edition

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2007; 9:52 AM

Holy cow! Stephen Colbert is surging. He's on fire. Truthiness rules!

In a new poll, he's at 2.3 percent in the Democratic primary. Before you scoff, that's 0.4 percent behind Joe Biden, but ahead of Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.

So a man who plays a right-wing bloviator trumps a governor who has been a congressman, Cabinet secretary and diplomat. Who knew? By this standard, Colbert should be included in the debates and launch a 50-state campaign. Forget about this South Carolina favorite-son stuff.

On the Republican side, not so much. Our man can't even beat out Tom Tancredo. So Stephen should concentrate on knocking off Hillary.

Colbert's poll numbers make this Rachel Sklar piece on his candidacy seem so last week:

"It's a terrible idea on many different grounds. Comedically, it's an extreme gag and an unoriginal one at that -- getting a bridge named after you in Hungary or branding a minor-league Ontario baseball team or whooshing a museum for yourself into existence or getting a red piece of plastic around Matt Lauer's wrist -- those are all inherently way funnier than ye olde joke candidate. Really, if it's already been a Robin Williams movie -- which tanked -- then seriously, don't go there. Also, it threatens to get old soon -- how much jokesterism on shows like 'Meet The Press' before audiences (sorry, voters) grow weary?"

Some pundits just don't get Colbert's political appeal.

The Sacramento Bee, on the other hand, calls Colbert and Jon Stewart "nothing less than the Socrates and Plato of our time."

I wonder how Plato would poll in today's environment.

A more serious long shot is the former governor of Arkansas, who seems well on his way to becoming the media's favorite Republican. He is filling the long-shot role occupied in past election cycles by Bruce Babbitt, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas and John McCain circa 2000. (All of them, you may recall, lost.)

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter casts his journalistic vote:

"Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week's 'Values Voters Convention,' many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor--and onetime Baptist minister--that they like him but won't back him because he can't beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.

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