Stephen Colbert is indeed a comic genius. He does a completely over-the-top impression of a factually clueless and ethically impaired wingnut. And yet actual non-elite conservatives seem to think he really believes the nonsense he mouths. That would be impossible unless it turned out to be the case that most conservative voters believe a whole bunch of stupid sh*t.

Now of course that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of smart conservatives, as well as bunch of smart grifters who have discovered that pretending to believe for real what Colbert’s character pretends to believe ironically is easier than working for a living. And of course it doesn’t mean that conservatives have a monopoly on stupidity; no one who has spent any time in Blue Blogistan could believe that. (Cf. #cancelColbert.)

But it remains the case that there’s no conservative version of Colbert: someone who recites liberal nonsense deadpan. And it’s also the case that, if there were, the mass of liberal voters would probably notice that they were being made fun of, rather than nodding in agreement. Whatever their native IQs, consumers of America’s “conservative” media have been trained to act just like stupid people. Otherwise, how could they have been expected to vote to put Sarah Palin within one unreliable heartbeat of the Presidency?

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.