Comedy Central

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, explains, with difficulty, the premise of his new book to Stephen Colbert on Thursday's "The Colbert Report."

The Buzz: Newsom's new book on government confounds Colbert

Published: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was describing his new book, "Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government," on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" on Thursday when the host, Stephen Colbert, asked him, 'What the (bleep) does any of that mean?"

Newsom had been talking about the "broadcast model of governing" and about how "big is getting small and small is getting big."

Colbert flipped through the book.

"Is there a bull (bleep) translator?" he said. "What are you talking about?"

Newsom tried again.

"I want to democratize voices," the former mayor of San Francisco said. "I want real citizen engagement. I want two-way conversations. I want citizenship to be redefined. I don't want people to do things to me, I want … people to do things with me. So it's all about building partnership and building capacity, building community."

Colbert was unsatisfied.

"What do you mean? Again, every single one of these things could be carved on a stone and put in someone's garden as like, as like a mantra," Colbert said. "But I don't know what they mean. What do you mean?"

"Capacity," Newsom said. "I'm talking about community."

"Bandwidth, you mean," Colbert said. "You mean governmental bandwidth so that all of us can, can hyperlink our engagement to democracy. See, I can make this (bleep) up, too."

Newsom defended his point, and later in the interview he offered an impassioned defense of California.

"Can I say something?" Colbert said. "You're a very handsome man."

– David Siders

AT THE CAPITOL

Robin Swanson is leaving her $140,000-a-year job as spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez to reopen Swanson Communications. She operated the consulting and public relations company for three years before joining Pérez's staff in May 2011. Her last day at the Capitol will be March 1, she said.

– Jim Sanders

WORTH REPEATING

"There is nothing more vulnerable than a freshman member of Congress."

JIM BRULTE, former lawmaker and likely next leader of the California Republican Party, promising that the GOP in 2014 will regain some of the House seats lost in 2012, possibly including the one held by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove

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