Stephen Colbert better give a tip of the hat to the Federal Elections Commission in the next Colbert Report.
That's because just in time for the Fourth of July, the FEC has granted Comedy Central's faux-news pundit permission to set up his very own political action committee, otherwise known as a super PAC.
Coming out of his fear bunker, Mr. Colbert went to Washington this morning to make his case for Colbert PAC, whose slogan is "Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." Here's what he had to say:
"Some people have said, ‘Is this some kind of joke?'" Colbert told a large crowd of fans and reporters gathered outside the FEC's headquarters. "I for one don't think participating in democracy is a joke."
Thanks to Supreme Court rulings last year, corporations, unions and other groups and wealthy individuals can set up super PACs that have the ability to raise unlimited campaign contributions to sway voters ahead of the 2012 elections.
It wasn't exactly a done deal, however. While the FEC ruled 5 to 1 in favor of allowing Colbert to move forward with it, commissioners did place some restrictions on how he'll be utilizing The Colbert Report staffers under the umbrella of the cable channel's parent company, Viacom.
Despite being a parody of other super PACs for his comedy show (though his aim with it is anything but clear), Colbert needed to qualify for a media exemption allowing him to use The Colbert Report's employees, airtime and resources to operate it.
The commission gave him most of what he wanted.
The panel declared that any TV ads produced specifically on his program would fall within the press exemption and such costs would not have to be disclosed.
But the FEC ruled that any Viacom-created ads—i.e., those run outside of the Report—would not be covered and its costs and administration would have to be reported as political contributions "because these activities are not legitimate press functions."
Colbert, whose attempt to run for president in 2007 was foiled when his bid to get on the South Carolina democratic ballot was denied, did not say much during today's hearing.
However, his latest political shenanigans are no laughing matter to campaign finance advocates who wagged their finger at Colbert PAC, fearing it could set a bad precedent when it comes to mixing politics and media.
Outside the FEC offices, Colbert started soliciting donations for his newly minted Colbert PAC right away, even pulling out an iPad with which he took credit card swipes.
"Today we have placed a sizable down payment. Today we put liberty on layaway," he quipped.
Eat your heart out, Colbert Nation.