May 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM ET
The 2012 presidential election will come down to one thing, according to Stephen Colbert, and it isn't money or even which candidate has better hair. As the host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" told TODAY's David Gregory on Friday, "It comes down to who has been crueler to a dog."
Colbert was visiting the studio to talk politics and his new children's book "I Am a Pole (And So Can You)," though he admitted he really didn't know what he was talking about most of the time: "I talk about politics a lot, but I don't actually understand politics. I make jokes about politics.... That's why I, for instance, I started a SuperPAC, so I could find out what it's really like."
The comedian/talk-show host made headlines last year when he started "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow," a SuperPAC designed to exploit every opening created by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened the doors for virtually anyone to anonymously donate any amount of money to a SuperPAC.
"I heard that there were laws to prevent you from doing things with campaign finance money," said Colbert, "until I went to do it. And then I found out there kind of aren't."
As for the dog issue, Colbert -- whose alter ego persona on "Report" supports conservative politics -- explained a bit further: "Apparently, it comes down to whether or not it's crueler for an adult man to strap a dog to his car and then drive for 12 hours [as Mitt Romney has been quoted as doing] or offer a 10-year-old boy to eat dog, given to him by his stepfather [as President Barack Obama said he did]. As far as I can tell, that's the biggest differentiation between the two."
As for his book, Colbert said he got the idea while interviewing noted children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. He threw out the idea of a pole learning his identity and said Sendak approved. "So that's why I thought I actually have to do this book," said Colbert. "A lot of celebrities have children's books and I didn't and I didn't think that was right."
Gregory had one key question, though: Colbert's book has the pole exploring whether he should be a stripper pole, though the pole gives it up because he couldn't stand the grind. Protested Colbert, "Strippers have children too!"
And how should a parent explain that particular passage to your children? Said Colbert, "Just say she's a pretty dancer. Don't be so judgmental."