For a Republican Congressman, I have to give Omaha's Lee Terry credit for one thing - he tries very, very hard to be cool. Sadly, his efforts seem to fail for two main reasons: a)he's a Republican; and b)he's Lee Terry.
In other words, the guy's a dork. Everyone knows it, too. Still, you can't blame Terry for his continued attempts to overcome this unfortunate disposition.
In fact, it was kind of sad a few years back when Terry tried to build a fundraiser around a Madonna concert. But, no matter how big a fan of the "Material Girl" Terry might be when singing to himself in the shower, the Religious Right and Democrats (always an interesting combination) were right to call Terry on his hypocrisy for consistently voting with his party to impose morality on the American public while his re-election campaign attempted to profit from an entertainer who made her name and career bringing SEX into the mainstream.
The whole hypocrisy-thing didn't seem to bother, but, when it became clear religious groups might take offense, Terry cancelled that fundraising effort. Very not cool.
Now, Terry is making another attempt at long-desired but ever-elusive coolness. On Wednesday night, he appeared on Comedy Central's highly popular The Colbert Report, which has achieved a degree of notoriety for its incessant mockery of Fox News-style "journalism" and for its host's controversial lampooning of President Bush at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner two weeks ago (which can and should be viewed here).
Terry's appearance is a continuation of Steve Colbert's "Know a District" series in which he promises to interview (and mock) every Congressman and Congresswoman in the country. So far, it's been a huge success, and most Representatives have played along quite nicely.
Terry's appearance on The Colbert Report, the first by a Nebraska Rep., can be viewed in its entirety here. Some highlights include:
-Colbert declaring Terry's Second Congressional District "the part of Nebraska with people."
-Terry wisely deflecting Colbert's asking "What else is bland" about Nebraskans besides their accents with "That's a good question."
-A disturbingly sexual discussion about how good Nebraskans are at packing meat that ends with Terry announcing, in Nebraska, "You can get it as hot as you want it."
-Colbert to Terry: "I'm not suggesting you are a Nazi. I'm saying you support some of the Nazi's aims."
It's certainly a fun watch, though it's hard to tell whether Terry was in on many of the jokes. From the look of it, he was either going for dead-pan humor by playing things straight or else he was just entirely out of his element.
Does the interview succeed at making Terry seem any cooler? Not really. I mean, the guy is still a Republican, and he's still Lee Terry. That he showed a willingness to go on the show, however, does speak somewhat in his favor - suggesting Terry at least attempts to have a sense of humor.
Even if Colbert did run a few circles around Terry, this appearance was probably a good move politically. In November, Terry will be facing a very youth-oriented challenger in Democrat Jim Esch.
In its little way, Terry's appearance might make him seem less out-of-touch with Omaha's students and young voters, an emerging force to be reckoned with in the city's political scene. Alas, he's still not going to be cool - not by any stretch of the imagination - but at least young people now have a reason to know who Terry is besides his voting to raise the interest rates on their student loans so the wealthiest 1% of Americans could have a bigger tax cut.
And hey, if nothing else, the guy handles being called a "Nazi" pretty well. Take that for what you will.