The House Democratic Issues Conference is no joke–except to Colbert

Comedian Stephen Colbert.
Comedian Stephen Colbert.
Jason DeCrow/AP

Democrats tapped a surprising guest speaker for their annual House Democratic Issues Conference Friday: Faux right-wing blowhard Stephen Colbert took the stage at the behest of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, cracked a few jokes in and out of character, and talked up his older sister… who could wind up at the retreat herself next year.

“Governor Nikki Haley rejected you; we will welcome you with open arms,” Pelosi told Colbert during the closed-press summit, according to a House democratic leadership aide. In December, the host of Comedy Central’s show The Colbert Report  encouraged viewers to send South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley reasons why she should appoint him to temporarily fill Sen. Jim DeMint’s open seat. Haley rebuffed the grassroots movement in a Facebook post before appointing Rep. Tim Scott to fill the vacancy.

But another Colbert is eyeing a career on the Hill: Stephen’s older sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch recently announced her candidacy to fill Scott’s vacated House seat. At Friday’s conference, Colbert described his sister as “tough as nails” and said “she is going to win.” He even asked South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn to endorse her. Answer: “I’m working on it.”

Playing the role of TV pundit, Colbert told the assembled House Democrats, “Republicans’ loss in November has them soul searching…whether or not they have souls.”  Rep. Gwen Moore asked Colbert about his character’s stance on the “war on women.”

“Some of my best friends are women,” Colbert replied. “I spent nine months in one.”

He called out members of Congress on the institution’s low approval rating, which hovers in the teens: ”Not sure if American people care either way, Congress [is] less popular than colonoscopies…but just edging out meth labs and gonorrhea.  Ironically, the last things we make in the United States.”

Colbert, who dipped in and out of character in a question-and-answer session with Pelosi and representatives, characterized his relationship with the House Democratic Leader as “best frenemies.” In response to a question from D.C.’s Eleanor Holmes Norton about why more members don’t stop by the set, Colbert pointed a finger at the Leader: ”Someone who will remain Nancy Pelosi-less told Democrats to stop coming on the show.”

The House Democratic Issues Conference is no joke--except to Colbert