There's nothing like a mention on The Colbert Report to get a politician all giddy. No matter what Stephen Colbert says about you, the rule that there's no such thing as bad publicity might as well be written in stone. Unless you're Rick Santorum.
Colbert announced last night that he sees the former Pennsylvania Senator as a definite contender for the 2012 presidential race. I know what you're thinking -- he's Colbert. There's no way he means it. You're right ... but you're even more right than usual. Studies have verified that appearing on The Colbert Report gets people mega-watt attention.
Using campaign contributions as a gauge, San Diego political science professor James Fowler determined back in 2008 that 30 days after the show, Democratic candidates who got the Colbert treatment earned about 44 percent more in campaign donations than counterparts who were not on the show. According to Fowler, Colbert is just as influential as he is sarcastic.
And last night he used that power for bad. By mentioning him on his show, Colbert made it clear he wants people to Google Rick Santorum, and Rick Santorum may be the first politician of this millennium who desperately wants to keep you off Google.
You might have heard that Rick Santorum has a Google problem? Go ahead, pull up another tab in your browser. Type his name into Google. Ignore the very top finding. Click on the second one. See that Wikipedia listing? You'll soon find that:
Santorum is a sexual neologism for a "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex," and was proposed by American humorist and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage in 2003 to "memorialize" then-Republican U.S. Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania due to the controversy over his statements on homosexuality.
Colbert pulled no punches, he brought up the Google problem on his show along with his tongue-in-cheek support -- although he said it was the "first" listing rather than the second:
Savage "Google bombed" the Internet, calling on supporters to help push that Wikipedia listing to the very top of the search results. But it looks like Stephen Colbert just Colberted the Internet. He explained for people what Savage had done, but he also shined a light on WHY Savage did it. And thanks to the Colbert influence, a mention on the show has all but guaranteed that frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter will remain forever linked to Rick Santorum. So much for no publicity is bad publicity, huh?
Did Colbert help Santorum last night or hurt him?