Life & Style

Stephen Colbert on America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t (Transcript)

Stephen Colbert: What? At less price?

Eric Schmidt: At list price.

Stephen Colbert: At list price. At list price? So go to Google+ for no deal. If you’re willing to pay list — which you should. Because if you pay list price, they include more book.

Eric Schmidt: Understood.

Stephen Colbert: I’m not going to give any of this stuff away for free.

Eric Schmidt: I want to explore some of the — and I should not turn this into an Android commercial.

Stephen Colbert: Go ahead.

Eric Schmidt: But Android is now —

Stephen Colbert: Now, Android is?

Eric Schmidt: The operating system that we sell.


Stephen Colbert: Got it. Got it. All right.

Eric Schmidt: And Android is five times larger than the iPhone.

Stephen Colbert: I know. I know.

Eric Schmidt: And Google Play runs on that.

Stephen Colbert: No, I read that someplace.


Eric Schmidt: So people will actually be reading your book on the most popular operating system.

Stephen Colbert: Then it’s going to make my book better.

Eric Schmidt: Absolutely.

Stephen Colbert: OK.


Eric Schmidt: Which is why we support it.

Stephen Colbert: Great.

Eric Schmidt: Good. Let’s try —

Stephen Colbert: I have a Google tablet. I have a Google tablet. I have that little Google tablet. It’s got that slightly pebbled finish and everything.

Eric Schmidt: It’s phenomenally successful.


Stephen Colbert: Can I make a suggestion?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Can I add an external volume thing on it?

Eric Schmidt: Yeah.

Stephen Colbert: Because you actually got to go into a screen to do the volume. An external —


Eric Schmidt: That would cost extra.

Stephen Colbert: I’m made of money.

Eric Schmidt: OK.

Stephen Colbert: After this thing —


Eric Schmidt: I want to explore the precedents that brought you to this view of American exceptionalism. And I want to understand why “A Man for All Seasons” is your most favorite book.

Stephen Colbert: Well, it’s a play. But the book form of it is actually one of my favorite things to read. The introduction to “A Man For All Seasons,” which is by Robert Bolt — and if you’ve never seen it, it’s the story of Sir Thomas More, or Saint Thomas More if you’re a Catholic. And I’m a Catholic. And it’s the story of the man who was a friend of the king, King Henry VIII. And he was made chancellor of England. And Henry wanted to get rid of his wife, be done with Catherine and get Anne Boleyn in there. And Thomas More wouldn’t put his hand on a little black book, raise his hand and say, I agree with the king. He just stayed silent, wouldn’t say anything. And Henry chopped his head off.

Eric Schmidt: We saw this in “The Tudors.”

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. It’s a little different in the play. But less of this in the Robert Bolt version. I really like it, because it’s the story about essentially, is there any part of you, as More says, is there any part of you that is not your appetites? Is there any part of you that is not your fears and not your desires? In other words, is there any part of you that doesn’t want or reject? Is there any part of you that is just you and from which you cannot retreat? And when I first started doing the show, I asked, especially the people who were at the head of my show, for instance, Allison Silverman, who was my original executive. No, she was my first head writer. I said, I’d love you to read this essay. Because certainly during the Bush administration, there was no criticism of President Bush when he first started. We tried to fix that.

Eric Schmidt: Yes, I’m going to come back to that.


Stephen Colbert: What?

Eric Schmidt: I’m going to come back.

Stephen Colbert: OK. And there were so many people who were afraid to be critical of the government at all because you could be called anti-American. And I love the play, because in this example, he loves the king but can’t agree with him, in the same way that someone could love their country but not agree with them. And can you bring yourself to swim against the tide of all your fellows? Can you keep yourself with your own opinions and your own ethics, your own morals, regardless of the tide of the times? And the Bush administration was — so many people got swept in the wrong direction, I think.

Eric Schmidt: And what was interesting was — I was in the audience when you gave the speech at the correspondents’ dinner.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, you were there?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: OK.

Eric Schmidt: You know, I have nothing else to do. And so I was sitting there. And I was shocked that they were foolish enough to invite you, because you were so good. And I think that performance put you from sort of a specialized service to a truly national figure. That’s my opinion. I think it literally changed the perception of you in society.

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By Pangambam S

I have been a Transcriber and Editor in the transcription industry for the past 15 years. Now I transcribe and edit at If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know. And please do share this post if you liked it and help you in any way.