- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to walk into the lion’s den.

The Democratic presidential hopeful will appear on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” tonight, braving host Stephen Colbert’s dry humor and his arguably Sen. Barack Obama-friendly audience for the first time.

The comedian, who fashions himself as a straight-laced Bill O’Reilly fan, calls the Clinton-Obama battle “Democralypse Now! The delightful dismemberment of the Democratic hopescape.”

“I spy with my little eye a political party eating itself,” Mr. Colbert said recently of the Democratic race, which he gives updates on nightly.

The appearance gives Mrs. Clinton an opportunity to reach out to younger voters who have favored her rival and may give Mrs. Clinton a boost in advance of Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania. The former first lady was on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” before the Texas and Ohio contests March 4, and was widely praised for making fun of herself on “Saturday Night Live” last month.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Mr. Colbert has many fans within the campaign and said his boss tends to do well “in settings like that.”

“He has an important audience. He’s got a great show,” Mr. Wolfson said. “His audience is engaged and well-informed, and obviously interested in politics, so that suggests to me that those members of his audience who are watching in Pennsylvania are likely to vote.”

“We’re all looking forward to watching it,” he said. “It may not necessarily be an interview like every other one that she’s going to give on that day, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Mr. Colbert, broadcasting this week from Philadelphia in advance of the primary, hasn’t spared either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama all year.

“The fight between Hillary and Obama, it’s an iron bear cage that has caught the Democratic Party by the ankle, and now the Democrats have to gnaw off their own leg to get away from these two people,” Mr. Colbert said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” this week.

Mr. Colbert, who flirted with a run for the presidency last fall, challenged Clinton and Obama supporters to hold their primary by donating to Pennsylvania schools through nonprofit DonorsChoose.org. When he “ran” for president in South Carolina, Mr. Colbert’s fans gave $66,000 to Palmetto State schools and he ended his short-lived bid.

But more than 2,200 Obama supporters walloped the Colbert record, and drastically outdonated Mrs. Clinton’s fans.

As of last night, Obama supporters had contributed nearly $155,000 to Pennsylvania schools in their candidate’s name, while just 318 people had given $29,386 on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.

“Let’s show Pennsylvania voters Obama’s superior coattails. And get some good publicity from Stephen Colbert,” one Obama fan weighed in on the campaign blog.

The results are no indicator of the sentiment of Pennsylvania voters, but give a hint as to whose supporters are bigger Colbert fans.

Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama, appeared on the show Tuesday night, marking her first time on the late-night circuit. Mr. Colbert complained to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Monday night that Mr. Obama “won’t come on my show.”

But that night’s episode featured Obama supporter John Legend singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and he quipped that Mrs. Clinton has said she is the only candidate ready on Day One “to defeat Mothra” while showing an animated image of the Democrat swatting at the prehistoric monster.

He also portrayed presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain as an “ancient life form” that once “dragged itself out of the primordial soup,” adding, “He’s old.”

But Tuesday night Mr. Colbert called Mrs. Obama “a very good-looking lady” and asked if she humbles her presidential candidate husband by asking him to clean the cat litter box.