Stephen Colbert and laughable politics: Five comedians who ran for office

American politics have been the subject of satire since before the country's founding. These days the US benefits from a healthy dose of humorous political commentary, but when the jokers run for political office (jokingly of course, right?) some funny things can happen. Here are five memorable ones.

2. Pat Paulsen

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    This cartoon appeared in the Oct. 24, 1968 issue of The Christian Science Monitor.
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Pat Paulsen roiled the political establishment with his run for the presidency in 1968. His "STAG Party" – that's "Straight Talking American Government – was backed by the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," where he was a regular commentator on serious issues. Though his original election bid never got off the ground – "I campaigned two weeks in Canada," he said, "not realizing they couldn't vote" – his name has become a favorite write-in protest vote. In 1996, he garnered 961 votes in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary, finishing second to Bill Clinton.

"I admit I do have some drawbacks and limitations as a candidate," he said in 1968. "Although I am a professional comedian, some of my critics maintain that this is not enough. I cannot deny that I stand before you untested and inexperienced – I only spent two years in television, never as a romantic lead or a song and dance man."

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