Mocking conservatives who fear that President Barack Obama has been waging a sinister campaign to "indoctrinate" children with his school speeches, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert scolded teachers armed with "The Audacity of Fact."
"Last week America's kids went back to school, and they were faced with the most insidious influence yet," Colbert said in "The Word" segment Wednesday. "They were faced with a video message from our president."
Obama delivered his second back-to-school message to students Tuesday. His 2009 speech was met with outrage from conservatives who claimed the president was trying to brainwash children. Some went as far as to plan a "National Keep Your Child at Home Day."
While a few school officials did object, this years speech saw much less controversy:
"Last year everything was a big deal. It was a new president, it was a new era. It was a new and changed everything and so, you had all these initiatives and fresh ideas and everyone got excited and now it's a year later. We've slogged through a recession and health care and continuing wars and it's harder for things to break through the clutter," says Tobe Berkovitz an Associate Professor at Boston University's College of Communication.
Colbert jokingly agreed with one Texas district that required parental permission slips to be signed before students could watch the president's video. The Austin Statesman reported:
Parents again can opt out of having their children participate. In the Leander district, parents were asked to turn in a permission slip to allow their children to watch the broadcast.
Last year, there was "a good bit of division" among parents and community members on whether the district did the right thing in not airing the broadcast, district spokesman Dick Ellis said . So, based in part on the feedback they were given last year, officials chose permission slips as the "most efficient way to know what our parents want."
"We wanted to streamline the process enough so we could say we know which kids have written permission to see this," Ellis said.
"That's right, permission slips, because listening to a president your parents didn't vote for is just as dangerous as a field trip to ride 'Skull Mountain' at Six Flags," noted Colbert.
But the man who gave the world "truthiness" -- defined as "truth that comes from the gut, not books" -- explained how facts can sometimes just get in the way.
"I believe they should have gone further, even mentioning President Obama teaches kids the dangerous lesson that he's our president. I say schools should require permission slips before our children are allowed to learn anything we disagree with," he advised.
"That includes foreign languages. Or even ordering Mexican-sounding foods in the cafeteria because empathy for illegal immigrants starts with 'Taco Tuesdays.'"
This video is from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, broadcast Sept. 22, 2010.