Ujjal Dosanjh has gone where U.S. President Barack Obama is afraid to go - on The Colbert Report.
He's not crazy; he just thought at his age - 63 - it would be fun not to be "politically correct all the time." And he survived to tell the tale.
"Actually, we had a lot of fun," the Liberal MP and former B.C. premier said of his 90 minute sit-down interview with American satirist Stephen Colbert.
About seven minutes of that interview was played on the Comedy Central hit last night. Mr. Colbert was in Vancouver last week taping four shows around the Winter Olympic Games.
The comedian has been having lots of fun at the expense of Canadians at the Games and during the lead-up to them. He provoked controversy when he referred to Canadians " iceholes" and "syrup suckers."
Last night, Mr. Colbert, who plays a right-wing pundit, accused Mr. Dosanjh of being a racist, acted surprised that not all Canadians were Caucasian and attempted to trap the Liberal politician into making a choice between Canada's public health-care system and gay rights.
"I just thought it would be good to do … something that was humourous," Mr. Dosanjh says. "I'm 63. I'm a grandfather four times and I've been around a long time.
"We should not be politically correct all the time and we need some fun."
U.S. President Barack Obama doesn't share that view. His press secretary Robert Gibbs has said that he has yet to see a "politician best Mr. Colbert." And he has said that his boss may appear on the Daily Show but " just maybe not Colbert."
The comedian tries to twist things and confuse politicians.
In fact, when Mr. Dosanjh agreed to appear on the show, he watched several Colbert episodes on the Internet.
"Then I thought, 'What have I done to myself?'"
Mr. Dosanjh says his office received an invitation from The Colbert Report last October.
No inquiries were made as to how the show decided upon him but he believes it was because of a couple of appearances he made on CNN, defending Canada's public health care system in the midst of the debate in the United States over the Obama administration's proposed reforms.
Still, he was wary. He asked one of his staff, who is a big fan of the Colbert show and, his middle son, about whether he should go on. They encouraged him to do it.
So last month, he travelled to Washington - on the Colbert show's dime - and taped the segment in a Congressional meeting room on Capitol Hill.
Just before the cameras started rolling, Mr. Colbert told his Canadian guest that, "I play this right-wing character, who is not well-informed about Canada and you have to disabuse me of all the notions I have," according to Mr. Dosjanjh.
The opening bit was good as Mr. Colbert was surprised that Mr. Dosanjh was Canadian. He said he was expecting to meet someone named "Gordon."
About Mr. Dosanjh, he said, "I don't see race but I see people who don't look Canadian."
"And so that's how it went," the Liberal MP said. "We went back and forth for an hour and a half."
The trick to dealing with Mr. Colbert, Mr. Dosanjh says, is not to "always fall for everything that he asks you to do. His purpose is not to insult you… He wants to have fun."
(Photo: The U.S. comedian tapes his show during the Vancouver Olympics last week. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)Report Typo/Error