Stephen Colbert isn't fond of history but found one use for the past Tuesday.

"Hitler. Hitler, okay. This is the one thing I like about the past is that I can look at Hitler and go, okay, there's a lesson from the past. Can I make an equation. I can transfer from Hitler all the evil on to Saddam and I can go Hitler and Saddam are the same. Therefore if you don't fight Saddam, you love Hitler," Colbert explained to British historian Simon Schama.

"Do you love hitler?" asked Colbert.

Schama, not a proponent of the Iraq war, took another lesson from history. "Thomas Jefferson -- Jefferson thought we should make a really serious distinction between wars of choice and wars of necessity," said Schama.

But Schama believes the U.S. should take some credit for the recent events in Iran. "I think we can take credit in a much deeper sense. Actually, I think it's quite true that cultures -- even when it has 30 years of mullahs telling what is right and what is wrong -- still actually want freedom and they want religious toleration. They want to be free," explained Schama. "Thomas Jefferson said every man whether he has one god, three gods or no god shall be free to worship whatever he wishes without fear."

The Colbert Report invited Schama to talk about his new book, "The American Future." He looks at where our nation is headed by examining historical events. "The American future is all vision, numinous, unformed, light-headed with anticipation," wrote Schama.

"Is the American future brighter?" asked Colbert.

"It's going to be stellar?" responded Schama. "Not just in the next 35 years."

This video is from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, broadcast June 22, 2009.

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