Stephen Colbert grew sideburns, donned earth tones and lit up on camera to go back to 1974 to mark the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation.
No longer content just to expain the news, Colbert also explained a little history on Monday’s “Colbert Report,” interviewing Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan and White House counsel John Dean. He called Nixon his “all-time favorite non-Reagan president.”
Colbert asked Buchanan if Nixon should have destroyed the so-called “smoking gun” tapes that indicated Nixon had tried to cover up the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex.
“Certainly. He should never have made the tapes,” Buchanan said.
“Okay, but that’s different,” Colbert said. “That’s like saying should you have destpryed the murder weapon? Well, better not to have murdered someone.”
Colbert added that he, too, would have destroyed the tapes, which were created using an automatic recording system Nixon had set up in the Oval Office.
“If you’re going to obstruct justice, go all the way,” Colbert said.
Buchanan said he had advised Nixon to destroy the tapes long before they could have been considered evidence in the Watergate investigation. If he had, Buchanan said, he might have gone down as one of the best presidents.
You can watch the whole episode here (it’s great), or watch the transition to 1974 here: