Dear Stephen

Won't you please be the President of Cleveland?

We don't actually have a White House, Stevie, but my buddy Mike says you can sleep in his car.
We don't actually have a White House, Stevie, but my buddy Mike says you can sleep in his car.

When I saw the news, I gasped. Or perhaps it was more of a semi-audible murmur. "SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATS REFUSE TO LET STEPHEN COLBERT ON PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT," screamed the Fox News scroll. This is what America had come to.

Here was the nation's patrioticest patriot, the brightest mind below the Food Network in the basic-cable listings, offering himself to his country. And South Carolina liberals conspired against him.

Okay, so it was only a state that names its football team, the Gamecocks, after a Ron Jeremy box set. But there was only one conclusion we could draw from this incident, Stephen: America doesn't deserve you.

I'm sure you were looking forward to serving your country, since it probably pays better than your little talk show and you get a house with a bowling alley. But let me clue you: Being president, at least of America, pretty much sucks.

You may not know this, but you have to live in Washington, where the law says every resident must be a former high-school class president who already wrote his three-volume autobiography by age 17. This means they talk about weird stuff like Kurdish sovereignty and stem cells. (Borrrring.) Can you imagine being at the bar, trying to watch the hockey game, and some lobbyist with missile-repellent hair is yakking at you about beet subsidies?

(Another bad thing: The president never gets to punch beet lobbyists. It's like a union rule or something.)

They also send you to foreign places, like Manila and Sacramento. Have you ever tried talking to people who speak foreigner? They don't understand what you're saying, so you have to flap your arms a lot. Hunters will mistake you for a mallard and open fire. That's what happened to Nixon.

And don't get me started about the generals, who are always asking you to bomb places. Say you're at the White House, 11 p.m., watching a little tube with the missus, and one of your lackeys just got back from fetching some Wendy's.

Boom! Suddenly the Joint Chiefs show up. They want you to blow up Liberia.

Problem 1: You never heard of Liberia. Isn't that the new fragrance by Teri Hatcher? Problem 2: You were watching The Departed on HBO, right where Leonardo DiCaprio horns in on the shrink who's supposed to be shacking up with Matt Damon. Problem 3: Can't the Joint Chiefs learn to knock?

By the time you find Liberia on a map — you were wrong; it's a tourist town in Rhode Island — and go on national TV to explain why you just bombed some antique stores, Leonardo already got clipped and the Wendy's is cold.

That's the sucking I was telling you about, Stephen. Which is why you should be President of Cleveland.

You may have heard of us. We're part of Flyover Country, right by those big blue blotches on the map. (They're called the Great Lakes. Decent perch fishing.)

Clevelanders are far superior to Washingtonians. Though we will play "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" on the jukebox 17 times a night — that song rawks! — we never talk about Venezuelan constitutions or beet subsidies. In Cleveland, most people believe autobiographies are turnpikes in Greece, and that lobbyists are homeless guys who sneak into the Holiday Inn Express.

Being president is a lot easier here. Sometimes councilmen will steal your lunch from the City Hall refrigerator. But there's no Congress, no Homeland Security, and no Army, though we do have some very qualified biker gangs should you wish to do a home-invasion robbery.

And we're always broke, so we can't send you to foreign places, like the G8 Summit. (You're not missing anything, Stephen. Putin's the only guy who doesn't barf after like four Jell-O shots. And if you put a few Michelob Ultras in Bush, he'll start whining about his allowance and drunk-dialing old girlfriends. Last time I went, we had to ditch him when he went to the bathroom! LOL!)

Certainly no one will bother you at 11 p.m., unless it's a cabinet member calling to see if you have weed. And by statute, all Cleveland public servants must respond to any issue with one of the two following answers: "That's not my department" and "Quit bothering me. I'm on break." Needless to say, you will never miss the dramatic buildup to Leonardo getting capped.

Best of all, no one knows where Cleveland is, especially the Washington press corps, which means Matt Drudge and Ann Coulter won't be getting all Greenpeace on you in their little blogs.

Unfortunately, we do have one small problem: We don't actually have a President of Cleveland job right now. But you'd be amazed at what you can get done around here if you sprinkle a few quarters and some pork chops in the right hands. We're also kinda missing a White House, but my buddy Mike says you can sleep in his car till we get one built. It's got reclining seats and some plastic taped over the window. I'm sure your family will love it!

Let's face facts, Stevie: America doesn't want you. The liberals of South Carolina have spoken. But Cleveland calls. Oh yes, like an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo, Cleveland crooks her finger as if to say, Come hither, Mr. Commander in Chief.

But if you're too jammed up right now, could you at least send the pork chops?


Pete Kotz
Ambassador of Cleveland