Interview on "The Colbert Report"
May 16, 2007
Steve Colbert, Host: My guest tonight is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Here's how divided our country is. He screams until he's blue in the face, I scream until I'm red. Please welcome Howard Dean!
[He jumps up out of his chair, runs over to the studio audience, and high-fives his way down the front row. Then he goes back up to the side dais where Howard Dean is sitting at the two-chair interview table.]
Colbert: Go time, Dean!
[Dean stands up and they shake hands, then both sit down]
Colbert: Nice to see you again.
Howard Dean, Chairman, DNC: Nice to be back.
Colbert: --been on a while.
Whatcha got there? [points to paper in front of Dean] Ya got somethin' for me?
Dean: Yeah, I got my notes--
Colbert: --Is that cash?
Dean: --I saw you had yours--
Colbert: -- you got notes?
Dean: -- I have mine.
Colbert: I don't need notes.
Dean: You don't?
Colbert: You see that Presidential debate last night?
Dean: I saw some of the outtakes.
Colbert: You did?
Dean: I did.
Colbert: Yeah. How come the Democratic audiences can't get as charged up for torture?
[Dean gives a chagrined smile]
Colbert: Why is that? Do you people just not wanna protect America or western civilization--?
Dean: -- Well, actually, this is a terrible question to ask me in the beginning, 'cause I actually wanna answer this one, the only person--
Colbert: [pointing to his notes] --I want you to answer all of these questions.
Dean: I'm gonna answer 'em but--
Colbert: We're gonna crack the Dean nut tonight.
Dean: But I was gonna have some fun on this stuff by saying--
Colbert: -- Wrong show.
Dean: --the Republican debate is all tor-- any Republican debate is torture. But lemme be serious about this for a second. If you wanna--
[Laughter and applause]
Colbert: Nicely done. I will grant--
Dean: One serious thing, okay? If you wanna be a great country, you don't torture people. The only person who knew what he was talking about was John McCain. The rest of them didn't know anything about how to be President.
Colbert: Well, you've got to protect-- [audience is applauding again by this time] --please, don't applaud for me till I make my point.
Dean: If you wanna--
Colbert: --You've gotta protect the country by doing any steps necessary. This is the last best hope for western civilization, and our concerns have to be thrown out the window when it comes to somebody who might have a nuclear bomb with a ticking clock on it, and I've got a guy here who might know the answer, and I've got nothing but a grapefruit spoon.
Dean: If you wanna be tough, you gotta be tough and smart, and that's the big problem with this administration, it's the big problem with the Republicans. John McCain knows something about torture, the rest of the guys are just windbags.
Colbert: All right.
[Laughter and applause]
Colbert: Do you think the midterm elections were a repudiation of George Bush and his policies?
Colbert: Do think that if the Democrats win in 2008, that will also be a repudiation of George Bush and his administration's policies?
Dean: No, it'll be 'cause we have the best candidate.
Colbert: Oh, really? Oh, that's good.
Colbert [leans forward]: Who is the best candidate?
Dean: Well, you know, I'm not allowed to say.
Colbert: How can I, how can I believe that you do, if you won't say. I'm so-- you want faith, and yet, you wouldn't take the WMDs on faith?
Colbert: 'Oh, they're there, I promise you, the best candidate's there, I just can't tell you who or where it is.'
Colbert: What's the difference between you and Bush?
Dean: Because there's--
Colbert: One difference, between you and George Bush.
Help me to be nice!
Um. Well, I would say that we like to balance budgets, we like to make sure that people have healthcare, we like to be tough and smart, not just talk tough at election time...
Dean: We... if we had been in office, New Orleans would be a lot better off. And that's a lotta words.
Colbert: I'm gonna disqualify all those, 'cause I only asked for one.
Colbert: If you had to vote for one of the Republican candidates, who would you vote for?
--Because, you can talk about them, right? You can talk about the [inaudible]
Dean: I've thought about this ahead of time.
Colbert: Who would it be?
Dean: If you were to pick Bill O'Reilly to be your running mate, I'd vote for Steve Colbert and Bill O'Reilly.
Dean: This guy's great, don't you--?
Colbert: Well, I know-- I know Papa Bear watches, but I'm not sure whether he would take the vice presidential position.
Colbert: It's not his M.O.
Dean: And then, you could do all the torturing you wanted.
[Colbert adjusts his glasses, intrigued.]
Dean: Because, I mean, what does Bill O'Reilly do every night?
Colbert: I think he'd start with you!
Dean: He would start with me if I'd go on his show, but I come on this show instead, 'cause it's much classier.
Colbert: How come-- thank you very much, sir.
[Applause. Dean grins]
Colbert [to camera]: His words, his words, not mine, Bill.
Now, why won't the Democrats debate on Fox News? You guys afraid? Are you afraid of Fox News?
Dean: No sense in going on propaganda outlets when you don't have to.
Colbert: What do you mean, propaganda? They're fair and balanced. They're fair and balanced--
Dean: --they wouldn't know--
Colbert: --and that's advertising, so you have to-- advertising has to be true.
Dean: That's true, that's true.[Ironically]
Colbert: Mm hm. Okay, so I accept your apology.
Colbert: How about Al Gore? Is Gore running?
Dean: I don't know, I haven't talked to him about it.
Ask him-- and if he's not, why won't he shut up?
[Dean, amused, thinks carefully for a moment]
Dean: You ask me these questions, I- that requires a humorous answer. I'm not gonna give you one. I'm gonna say that Al Gore has done probably more than any single individual in the world's history to bring us up to date on the environment. Nobody even thought about global warming, let alone the Republicans, until Al Gore did his movie thing with Lawrence Bender and the other guys that did it. That's an incredible service--
Colbert: I will grant you that global warming is real...
Colbert: ... because, once his movie made money, the market had decided.
Dean: Right, right.
Colbert [consults notes]: Okay, you can't talk about individual candidates here, okay? Let's talk about hypotheticals, okay? Let's say it's a race between Orak Bobama...
Colbert: ... and at the convention, he's up against Mallory Vinton.
[Laughter. Dean nods knowingly]
Which one of these two would you support?
Dean: Bill O'Colbert.
Colbert: ? Oh, okay. Very nice.
Colbert: All right. Lightning round. Hurrah.
Dean: All right.
Colbert: What is the Democratic plan for resolving the 14-hundred-year-old sectarian conflict in Iraq? Ten seconds.
Dean: Guard and Reserve home, 25,000 troops left in the Middle East to deal with terrorism.
Colbert: 25,000 troops??
Dean: Left in the Middle East. Not in Iraq, but in the Middle East to deal with terrorism, the rest of the Guard and Reserve home, everybody else home within a year.
Colbert: Okay, so that's, that's--
Colbert: -- that's giving the Middle East over to the terrorists.
Dean: No it's not.
Colbert: 25,000! How do you -- how 25,000 guys can do it, if 145,000 can't?
Dean: 25,000 troops did great in Afghanistan. If you know what you're doing, it's not hard. The trouble is, they wouldn't listen to Colin Powell.
Colbert: Um, you have said that news has been reduced to, quote, "infotainment." First of all, I resent that, and...
Colbert: ...I'm thinking of rescinding my offer of a free pasta strainer. What do you mean by 'infotainment'?
Just because guys like me make news worth watching?
Dean: That is actually true. Because you actually know what you're doing with infotainment, and Fox and all the other folks actually just jazz up the news.
You know you're jazzing up the news, so there's nothing hypocritical about what you're doing.
Colbert: Thank you. [preens a bit]
Colbert: ... I don't like taking compliments from enemies of America, but...
Colbert: ... I have to.
Why aren't you running? Do you think you could do more destruction as the head of the DNC?
Dean: It would be almost impossible to match the destruction of the last six years...
Colbert: Howard Dean... [they shake hands] ...thank you so much for stopping by.
Dean: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
Governor Howard Dean!
Transcribed from the video linked at The DNC website.