Nobody knows how to welcome home America's troops from a theatre of war like its most bombastic, fake political pundit.
In the first installment of a two-night special event dubbed "Been There: Won That: The Returnification of the American-Do Troopscape," Stephen Colbert employed Vice President Joe Biden as a hot dog vendor, stuffed the studio audience of active duty troops and vets full of beer and ice cream, and, most importantly, honored the service of the soldiers.
Politics were largely left aside during the evening's festivities, as Colbert declared that, "tonight is for the troops."
"I'm not going to debate this war," he said, in character. "It's been seven years. Who can remember who invaded who?"
Gen. Ray Odierno, the outgoing U.S. military commander in Iraq, sported a toupee of Colbert's hair, a reference to the famous haircut he gave the ill-informed pundit during "The Colbert Reports" visit to the troops in the war-torn nation last year.
Biden donned a baseball cap as he walked around the studio, passing out food. When summoned by Colbert, who said he didn't expect the vice president to serve hot dogs, Biden told him to check the constitution. In addition to breaking ties in the Senate, he said his other official duty was to hand out hot dogs to the troops.
While Colbert's shtick is to parody conservative talking heads, his strong support for the men and women in uniform has been nothing but genuine. He's raised significant amounts of money for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a charity that provides assistance to injured troops and their families. He also serves on the board of DonorsChoose.org, which raises money for the education of children of parents in the military.
Colbert even produced a special "conflict analyst" for the evening, World War II vet and Yankees great, Yogi Berra. Colbert and Biden both agreed that while official combat operations are over in Iraq, there are troops still in harm's way.
To which Berra responded, "Stephen, it ain't over till it's over."