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Clinton steps up feud with Colbert.

By ThinkProgress  

"Clinton steps up feud with Colbert."

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Last year, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta convinced Stephen Colbert to give the commencement address at Podesta’s alma mater Knox College. This year, Knox invited President Clinton to be the commencement speaker, and Colbert was livid:

Colbert launched the January 22 edition of his Comedy Central program, “The Colbert Report,” with a four-minute installment of the series he calls “Who’s Riding My Coattails Now,” on which he threatened to burn the honorary doctorate of fine arts that Knox awarded him last year.

“If you give [President] Clinton the same doctorate you gave me, I will be forced to burn [my degree] on the air,” Colbert said, contending that the former president had “stolen his thunder.”

This past weekend, Clinton gave his commencement address at Knox and shot back:

When Lincoln ran for presidency in 1860 — the truth is, that’s why he got this honorary degree, your college was trying to help get him elected, and you wanted to give him a little boost. One hundred and forty six years later, you gave Stephen Colbert a degree to give his ratings a boost. That’s what Al Gore now calls an assault on reason. 2007, you’re giving me an honorary degree so I can be attacked by Stephen Colbert.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/clintoncolbert.320.240.flv]

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Transcript:

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And I was thinking that Knox has always been remarkably consistent. You know, this university was born in the throes of the anti-slavery movement, and was revolutionary from its beginning in being open to people of color and to women from the beginning. So this is not such a balancing act after all because if I had been alive when you gave the degree to Abraham Lincoln, I would have been a Republican. And if he were alive today, I kinda think he’d be a Democrat.

The last, the fifth debate which Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas had here, was an interesting one because it contained at the time Lincoln’s most passionate attack on slavery. But that has tended to obscure what I think were the good intentions of his fellow citizen of Illinois, Stephen Douglas, as they were setting up what would later become their contest for the presidency in 1860, for both of them were moving away from the extremes of their parties, struggling to find a way to hold the country together. When Lincoln ran for presidency in 1860 — the truth is, that’s why he got this honorary degree, your college was trying to help get him elected, and you wanted to give him a little boost.

One hundred and forty six years later, you gave Stephen Colbert a degree to give his ratings a boost. That’s what Al Gore now calls an assault on reason. 2007, you’re giving me an honorary degree so I can be attacked by Stephen Colbert. John Quincy Adams once said after leaving the White House that there is nothing so pathetic as a former president.

‹ Sen. Thomas in “serious condition.”

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