By Scott Brown
October 24, 2006 at 02:00 PM EDT

There’s a Colbert in the woods. And it’s hunting Congressional incumbents. Who’d have guessed that a cerebral late-night cable comedian could take a “434-part series” on Congressional districts and turn it into a political phenomenon?*

That series, The Colbert Report‘s “Better Know a District,” has become kryptonite for embattled incumbents — especially, it should be noted, embattled Republican incumbents. It has become, in the words of one Democratic consultant, “must-not-do TV.” (Now you know why Democratic consultants don’t work in major-network marketing.)

After watching Stephen Colbert (pictured) tear into Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (who semi-famously failed to recite the Ten Commandments), you’d have to wonder why any politician would brave the Report. (Westmoreland saw his “Better Know…” spot end up on Democratic opponent Mike McGraw’s website — talk about your ultimate media nightmare.)

Ah, but Colbert has a strategy for those who duck him: Talk to the opponent. Which, if Colbert is doing his job right, makes both incumbent and challenger look gloriously stupid. But it also has the (possibly) unintended consequence of manufacturing easily excerptable smears — which only the most idiotic voters (meaning, I fear, most voters) swallow whole.

Was this Colbert’s fiendish plan all along? The more strident elements will probably say yes and say it loudly in the coming weeks. Well, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. There’s an election on, in case you haven’t heard. It’s getting uglier by the minute. And we’ll be in dire need of humor until it’s over, and probably afterwards, too.

*The answer is no one. No one could have guessed this. Not even Robot Einstein, who is so smart and has such adorable cyberbrows that he must be destroyed.