Stephen Colbert took it upon himself to usher former President Bill Clinton into the Twitter era.
In an interview seen Monday night on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, Colbert got the ex-prez to admit he’s not on Twitter. So Colbert announced that he’d gone ahead and created a Twitter account for him.
The account’s name: @PrezBillyJeff. It’s a shortened version of “William Jefferson Clinton” that was chosen because so many other potential Twitter names for President Clinton were already taken (although none of them are really him apparently).
Clinton explained why he hadn’t joined Twitter before. “I think I’m so sort of insecure … like, what if you tweet and nobody tweets back?” he asked. “There’s nothing worse than a friendless tweeter, right? You’re just wandering around in cyberspace!”
Then Colbert announced the ex-president’s new Twitter account and asked him to dictate his first Tweet. And the president came up with: “Just spent amazing time with Colbert! Is he sane? He is cool!”
As of Tuesday at noon eastern time, it was still the only Tweet from @PrezBillyJeff, although the account had attracted 62,000 followers.
“Sir, welcome to the future,” Colbert said.
The Twitter bit came at the conclusion of Colbert’s interview with Clinton — which was conducted over the weekend, on-stage at the Clinton Global Initiative University, a gathering for college students, held in St. Louis at Washington University.
In the video above, the Twitter conversation comes at about 20 minutes into the show. The Clinton interview commences at about four-and-a-half minutes in.
It’s a very entertaining interview, and we suggest you try and watch the whole thing. It’s another illustration of the uniqueness of Colbert’s “act,” which is basically this: He’s an entertainer named Stephen Colbert, who plays a guy named Stephen Colbert who is a pompous right-leaning cable talk show host created as a parody of the real ones, such as Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel.
Thus, when “Colbert,” who is not a real person, has “real” guests such as, in this case, a former president of the United States, Colbert the actor really walks a tightrope between wanting to be funny while not offending his guest (at least not too much).
At times during this Clinton interview, for example, the ex-president was not smiling or laughing. Nor did he seem upset, however, although there were times when you might have wondered if he was put off.
Here’s an example of one question that the deadpan Colbert — who always stays firmly in character — asked Clinton, concerning the good works done around the world by Clinton’s Global Initiative non-profit: “Now the way you describe the things you do and the things you want to do and the way you want to improve the world, it sounds very, uh, good,” Colbert said.
“But I listen to a lot of right-wing radio and I know there’s nothing that you or Mrs. Clinton do that has not got some angle. You’re both always hungry for power. So what is the grift here in helping people? What’s your secret plan here? Because everyone would do it if it’s just a good thing to do, but they don’t! You’re not going to see me making the world a better place!”
With a straight face, Clinton answered: “I do it because I’m good at it and I’m not good enough to play golf on the senior tour and I don’t play my saxophone as much as I used to, so I don’t like to do it in public. And it makes me happy.”