As a proud son of South Carolina I must address recent unsubstantiated rumors published in The State that I, Stephen Colbert, tried to buy the naming rights to the 2012 Republican primary. First, never trust anything in a newspaper — except this column, and possibly “Mallard Filmore.” And second, these outrageous and scurrilous rumors border on libel, even if they are, technically, true. I don’t want to talk about it. Here’s what happened:
I have what’s called a super PAC — a political action committee that can receive unlimited funds to spend on political speech in unlimited quantities. About three months ago, I heard that local officials in South Carolina were suing the state political parties over who would pay for the upcoming presidential primary. The GOP said they would pay a big chunk of the cost, but insisted the taxpayers pick up the bulk. State and local officials said this private primary should be paid for entirely with party funds. And Gov. Nikki Haley said, “It’s a great day in South Carolina!”
Enter Colbert Super PAC.™ South Carolina has two state mottos. (It’s always good to have a backup, in case one motto goes missing for days at a time with the motto of Argentina.) The first is “Animis opibusque parati” — “Prepared in mind and resources.”
For this all important first-in-the-South primary, the Palmetto State was not prepared in resources, but Colbert Super PAC was. So I called up the South Carolina GOP and said, “How much cash would you have to raise to keep your promise to counties? Off the record; I’ll never tell a soul.” They said, “$400,000.”
I said, “I can cover that. No strings attached.”
Of course, I can’t offer that kind of no-strings-attached-money without getting something in return. I told them I wanted the naming rights to the primary, and a non-binding referendum on the ballot. If they weren’t prepared to horse trade for these two requests, they should never call me back.
Well, they didn’t call me back. They got on a plane and flew to New York to make the deal. Because money talks, B.S. walks, and $400,000 flies business class.