Stephen Colbert finally got his new show kicked off Tuesday night, introducing himself to America all over again as Stephen Colbert — the real one this time, not Comedy Central’s fake news genius. It was only fitting that Colbert had as his first big serious guest a man trying to perform the same trick: GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush is trying to reintroduce himself to America, too. And like Colbert, Bush is in a battle with a cartoonish version of himself (and his party) who has proven immensely popular: in Bush’s case that man isn’t his old TV comedy persona, but Donald Trump.
Colbert had a good start trying to leave his cartoon character in the dust. But Bush has a steeper hill to climb. He not only has to duel with Trump, who keeps changing the duel’s rules, he also has to carry around the baggage of his last name, once a political advantage. Bush’s campaign logo, which reads simply Jeb!, was a topic of discussion. Trump has asked rhetorically whether Bush is ashamed of that tarnished last name, which two recent presidents carried. Bush admitted to Colbert that even with just Jeb! — and no “Bush” at all — the logo inspires either “happiness or deep anger.” It’s funny, the old Stephen Colbert always managed to do both at the same time.