Stephen Colbert is what happens when you let politics take over your life.
You become ugly, nasty and mean.
Colbert was funny when he made his "Daily Show" debut in 1997. It was funny when his news correspondent character slowly morphed into a caricature of a right-wing commentator. It was even funny when continued playing that character for the nine years he hosted his own parody news program on Comedy Central. It was less funny when he remained in character in 2010 when he testified before Congress, but everyone's allowed a mulligan.
The cable funnyman made the jump to network television in 2014 to replace longtime "Late Show" host David Letterman, and it has all been downhill since then.
Colbert broke character for CBS, revealing that he is actually angrier and pettier than his nearly 20-year-old Comedy Central alter ego. His jokes have become increasingly bitter and partisan, and his style of humor uncomfortably personal. Get him near politics and watch him froth.
The worst to-date example of Colbert's smallness came Monday evening when he responded angrily to President Donald Trump's gruff treatment of John Dickerson of CBS News' "Face the Nation."
"Donald Trump, John Dickerson is a fair-minded journalist and one of the most competent people who will ever walk into your office, and you treat him like that?" Colbert said in his Monday monologue.
The late-night host then launched into a series of insults aimed at getting even with Trump for his treatment of Dickerson.
"Mr. President, I love your presidency, I call it 'Disgrace The Nation,'" he said at the beginning of his supposed takedown.
"You're not the POTUS, you're the 'gloat-us.' You're the glutton with the button. You're a regular 'Gorge Washington.' You're the 'presi-dunce' but you're turning into a real 'prick-tator,'" he continued. "Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head."
Colbert then ended with this bit of unpleasantness: "In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's c—k holster."
At least when he was on Comedy Central, he was playing a character. Who knows what's going on with this version of Colbert.
In better times, his "holster" joke would have been a fireable offense. To be clear, this isn't to say CBS should fire Colbert or that the network should be boycotted. Rather, it's meant only to say that it is sad to see how low standards have fallen that this sort of trash actually made it past CBS' producers.
Perhaps the worst offense of all, worse even than Colbert's obscene kicker, is that the jokes are not funny. "Prick-tator"? "Gorge Washington"? Come on now. These lines would depress even Andy Borowitz, the official unfunniest person on the Internet.
It's sad watching Colbert attempt to match the ugly coming out of the White House, especially considering it wasn't too long ago that he bemoaned the loss of civility in the nation's political discourse.
"Both sides are terrified of the other side," the 52-year-old host said on Nov. 8, the night that Hillary Clinton lost to Trump. "How did our politics get so poisonous? I think it's because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison."
"Politics is everywhere and that takes up precious brain space we could be using to remember all the things we actually have in common," he added. "So whether your side won or lost, we don't have to do this sh-t for a while."
Was Colbert playing one of his characters when he said this in November?
Does even he know anymore?