What's the Latest Development?

After protracted legal wranglings with Viacom, Comedy Central political satirist Stephen Colbert has successfully petitioned the Federal Election Commission (F.E.C.) to create a Super P.A.C., giving him the authority to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence public elections. It remains to be seen how seriously Colbert will take his newly granted power, but certainly it will play a role in the 2012 presidential election. "Some people have said, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ Colbert remarked. "I for one don't think participating in democracy is a joke."

What's the Big Idea?

The F.E.C.'s decision to allow Colbert to establish a Super P.A.C. comes in the wake of the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. F.E.C. in which the government body was stripped of its authority to regulate corporate spending on public elections. The 5-4 decision was split along the Court's ideological lines and was seen as a major setback in securing fair and transparent campaign funding laws. The decision declared a provision of the McCain-Feingold Act to be unconstitutional, granting 1st Amendment rights to corporate entities.