The video: Stephen Colbert isn't on the ballot in South Carolina. But a PPP survey this week put his support in the Palmetto State's Jan. 21 presidential primary at 5 percent — better than actual candidate Jon Huntsman. So on Thursday night's show, Colbert asked his lawyer, Trevor Potter, if he could run for president and continue leading his successful super PAC, Citizens for Better Tomorrow Tomorrow. No, Potter said: Campaign law prohibits candidates from coordinating with super PACs. That inspired Colbert to hand over his super PAC to close friend and business partner Jon Stewart. Perfectly legal, Potter pronounced. Assured of a sympathetic super PAC, Colbert then announced that he was "forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for [his] possible candidacy for the president of the United States of South Carolina." Cue celebratory balloon drop!
The reaction: This could "be more fun, and pointed, than just another vanity run," says James Poniewozik at TIME. Colbert is effectively and informatively satirizing the absurdity of campaign rules that allow super PACs to accept unlimited contributions, which they use to prop up candidates. But that's actually "not so funny," says Peter Grier at The Christian Science Monitor, given that Mitt Romney and Co. are as cozy with their super PACS as Colbert is with Stewart. See for yourself: