Videos: Rachel Maddow makes Mike Coffman national laughingstock

Political observers realized that Mike Coffman's recent birther comments were a political gaffe. But even the wisest of them couldn't have guessed his clumsy attempts to deal with the fallout would transform him into a nationwide punchline. Thanks for the latter goes to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who last night zinged Coffman in hilarious (unless you're him) fashion.

To recap: Toward the end of his remarks at a May 12 fundraiser in Elbert County, Coffman said, "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American." He subsequently issued an apology, saying, "I misspoke" -- a popular excuse among politicians.

A bad moment, no doubt -- but this error was compounded when 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark pigeonholed Coffman at an event earlier this week and tried to get something more out of him than a canned statement. But no: Coffman, looking like a remote-control automaton, told Clark, "I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize." And then he said it again. And again. And again. And again, bringing the total to five -- after which Clark, who was studiously polite throughout, mercifully let Coffman run away.

This self-perpetuating meme is ideal for ridicule, and Maddow spent much of her program last night building up to it -- including an intro during which she likened the 9News clip in advance to the moment when Caitlin Upton, the 2007 Miss South Carolina Teen USA, answered a pageant question by rambling that "people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq...."

This set-up paid off with Maddow sharing the Coffman clip and declaring that it's made him "nationally famous" -- and she's doing all she can to perpetuate his mea culpa-times-five. Example: Today, the top item on her blog is this tweet:

Will other progressives join the fun and transform Coffman into a poster child for all that's wrong with today's Republican Party? It's too early to know for certain yet -- but bet plenty of them try. Check out the intro and the Coffman video below.

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More from our Politics archive: "John Hickenlooper, Mike Coffman could see political fallout, pollster says."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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