Stephen Colbert talks about his new book, ''I Am America (And So Can You!),'' sex and dating, and winning a Hungarian bridge-naming contest

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated July 12, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Some of you know Stephen Colbert as a former Daily Show correspondent, now hosting his own nightly program, The Colbert Report, on Comedy Central. Some of you know him as the man whose satirical brand of ”conservative” political rhetoric nearly derailed the 2006 White House Press Corps dinner, leading the organization to un-ironically hire Rich Little for 2007’s event.

Some of you know Stephen Colbert as a demigod.

But no matter how you know Stephen Colbert, let’s face it: You don’t know him well enough. Thus, the man who ushered ”truthiness” into the lexicon has set about writing a book, titled I Am America (And So Can You!). We grabbed a few minutes out of his busy schedule and asked him to tell us all about how the book — due this fall — just might change our life. Get excited, nation.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So we’re taking an early look at your upcoming book cause we’re very excited.
You and me both. I can’t wait to get that thing off my lap.

Is it the same sort of textbook size as Jon Stewart’s America book was, or is it more of an autobiographical size?
[Laughs] That’s interesting. Actually, America — the format’s big, but it’s not that big a book. Only about 200 pages. It’s about the same length. But our shows are different. Jon’s book was called America. Mine is called I Am America. And that gives you — that really kind of codifies the difference between the two shows. He talks about America; I embody it.

So if I too wanted to become America?
I would read this book.

This is the book for me.
Actually, I’d buy it first. And then I’d read it. No libraries, okay? Libraries are for cowards. No free rides. The book is for heroes, and the heroes are the people who buy the book. Don’t lend the book.

Would you be willing to walk me through the process of becoming America now, or is that something you’d like to save for when the book comes out?
I think Walt Whitman said it best in Song of Myself. ”What I assume, you shall assume.” And that’s what you need to do. Read the book, be me. Hold my truths to be self-evident. Cause what I’ve written is a constitution for the Colbert Nation.

I understand.
Do you?

Not really.
Good. ‘Cause if you understood I’d ask you to finish the last three chapters. We’re kind of tired. [Laughs] It covers everything. The book covers the American family. It covers basically the things about America that you should know, in the order you learn them in your life. Family. Pets. Religion. Sex and Dating. The Homosexual Agenda. Higher Education.

You learn about the homosexual agenda that early in life? I don’t think I got there until maybe the middle of higher education.
Right after Sex and Dating, yes. Because you gotta be careful when you’re Sex and Dating that you’re dating the right people.

Oh, right. That you’re not falling victim to the Homosexual Agenda.
Exactly. Cause they’re out there. They’re waiting. They’re prowling. Like a gay pride of lions.

I think the difference for me between what you’re able to do in a book and what Stewart was able to do is, you do have this Nation that you’re able to rally. Do you feel as though this book is going to set them ablaze? Will they be a force to contend with now?
I hope this is a pebble in the pond of the consciousness of the Colbert Nation that builds to a sweeping tidal wave.

That’s lovely.
Is it?

Good. We’ll put it in the book. I gotta fill those last pages. One of the things I enjoy most about the difference between Jon’s show and my show, or things I can take advantage of, is what you said. The Colbert Nation is there. We always imagined that Jon — people are always like ”Wooo, run for president!” or ”Wooo, you’re the greatest!” and Jon always demurs. My character is like, ”Of course!” He’s in front of the parade, with the torches and the pitchforks. He’s like, ”Let’s go storm the castle!”

Yeah, I get the sense that if Jon asked to have an eagle named after him or something, people would be like, ”Uh-huh,” and take another hit off the bong. But people actually do name things after you. Very flattering. You have a bridge, right?
I won the bridge-naming contest in Hungary, but apparently you have to speak Hungarian and you have to be dead. So it ended up becoming the Magyar Bridge. But I’m now an honorary citizen of Hungary.

Thank you, very much. That will come in handy if I ever have to flee the country.

NEXT: Why not just get your rabid Nation of followers to finish the book?