I'm on to you, Colbert.
The Colbert Report is your way of accomplishing your over-the-top bucket list, isn't it? You just have a bigger budget than the rest of us.
To justify my conspiracy theory, let me point out that just this last week he interviewed and sang with Julie Andrews -- as he has done with several guests, such as Placido Domingo and Audra McDonald --- and played rock-paper-scissors with chess genius Magnus Carlsen.
Right out of the gate, Colbert made his name by skewering President Bush at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner and coining the term "truthiness," which was dubbed Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster.
Check and check.
While most of us would be happy to be two or three degrees removed from someone famous, Colbert has to meet everyone face-to-face. His show has allowed him to have conversations with some of the most interesting, influential, and iconic people in the world, including Michelle Obama, Madeleine Albright, Dinesh D'Souza, James Cameron, Arianna Huffington, Anne Rice, William Shatner, Bill Moyers, Terry Gross, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin Spacey, A.C. Grayling, Tom Brokaw, Cornel West, Ron Paul, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, and Barbara Walters.
He's played host to Björk, The Cars, Radiohead, Rush, Green Day, Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma, and Cheap Trick. He's performed with the New York Philharmonic. When most of us would have settled for a poster, Colbert outlandishly enshrined the real-life Michael Stipe of R.E.M. in a niche on his set's wall. Even "Papa Bear," Bill O'Reilly (another guest on his show), wouldn't go that far.
He put in a presidential bid in 2008. He testified in character (mostly) before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Security. In the tradition of the great Bob Hope, he performed for U.S. soldiers in Iraq as part of the U.S.O., at which President Obama ordered his head to be shaved. He co-hosted a rally with Jon Stewart in D.C. and he's owned a Super Pac, which raised funds that he spent on his bucket list!
His 2007 book, I Am America (And So Can You!), made him a New York Times bestselling author, and his most recent children's book, I Am a Pole (And So Can You!), was endorsed by none other than Maurice Sendak. Apparently, Sendak does know where the wild things are.
He has addressed Princeton University, was commencement speaker for Northwestern University, and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Knox College.
He's won three Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, two Television Critics Association Awards, two Satellite Awards, and a Peabody Award.
Ben & Jerry's named an ice cream flavor after him ("Americone Dream").
NASA named a treadmill on the ISS after him.
He was even named the Assistant Sports Psychologist for the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating team of the 2010 Winter Olympics -- to the chagrin of all fake psychologists on TV.
Oh yeah, and the man named as one of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World" hosts a world-famous TV show.
So I'm on to you, Colbert. I know what you're up to. You're just fulfilling your bucket list on the network's dime.
Want me to keep this observation to myself? You'll have to cross something off my bucket list: a beer with Stephen Colbert.
Follow Brandon G. Withrow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwithrow