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First moves from the Colbert Super PAC

Comedian Stephen Colbert addresses the media after attending a Federal Election Commission (FEC) hearing to ask for a media exemption to create a political action committee (PAC) on June 30, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Kai Ryssdal: There's not much arguing that our elected officials have helped put us in a fairly bad financial bind with all the budget and deficit stuff that's going on.

But why take it so seriously? Politics can be a funny business. Which helps explain why Stephen Colbert's Super PAC just launched its first ad of the 2012 campaign.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill...repors.


Adriene Hill: When the Federal Election Commission gave Steven Colbert the go-ahead to create a political action committee, he didn't say what he was planning.

Stephen Colbert: There will be others who say, 'Steven Colbert, what will you do with that unrestricted Super PAC money?' To which I say, I don't know.

Now we know.

The Colbert Super PAC, called Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has released its first ad, ahead of the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.

Colbert Super PAC commercial: Write in Rick PArry, that's PArry with an A for America. With an A for Iowa.

Texas Governor Rick Perry spells his name with an E -- for "exists," maybe?

Anyway, the Iowa GOP, which runs the Ames Straw Poll, didn't seem especially amused. The spokesman told me that write-in votes would be counted according to Iowa election code, including "voter intent." But what's the intent of a vote for Rick Parry with an A?

Rick Hasen: Some voters might be intending to vote for Rick Perry, and not know how to spell Perry and might spell it with an A. Some voters might be intending to cast a Colbert protest vote.

Rick Hasen is a law professor at U.C. Irvine.

Hasen: I think it's completely ambiguous, and that is why if this were a real election, I'd find Colbert's behavior very troubling.

Hasen says it's an example of the mischief a Colbert Super PAC could cause in the election -- in ways intended and unintended.

Hasen: It really is a little bit Colbert playing with fire.

Maybe funny fire, but still fire.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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