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#2 in the Nation

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Stephen Colbert stared at the latest issue of Pundits. It was the first yearly “Hottest Newsmen" special edition, and to Stephen’s horror, he was listed number 2. Staring him in the face was a photo of that smug silver fox, Anderson Cooper, with his sleeves rolled up, surrounded by flood waters and crying children in a boat. “Those probably aren’t even children,” Stephen muttered. “Or worse, they’re anchor babies. No wonder they can’t go anywhere in that boat, those anchor babies are weighing them down, Cooper. But you won’t report on that, will you?”

Anderson Cooper’s smiling face said nothing in reply. It was almost too much for Stephen to bear. And bears, as Stephen reminded himself, were godless killing machines. Anderson Cooper never reported about the dangers of bears.

“Why, oh God, why?” he demanded of the Lord Almighty, maker of freedom and eagles. “I gave you everything. EVERYTHING!” Stephen shouted. “I go out every day and fight the good fight for my Nation. How could you allow that East Coast Commie Liberal elist to take what should be mine? How?” Stephen kicked over a tray of sandwiches and dramatically fell to the floor of the Daily Show break room, sobbing.

“Hey, maybe someone should get Stewart in here?” John Oliver suggested. “I like a bit of theatre, but throwing our lunch around is a bit much.” The other correspondents shrugged. This was one of their more normal days.

“I didn’t throw it,” Stephen replied petulantly, before chucking the issue of Pundits at Oliver’s face. “Now that, that I threw.”

Naturally, this was when Jon Stewart waltzed into the break room for his pizza break. 

“Stephen! What’s wrong? Did Obama try to talk you into getting healthcare again? Or is Apple refusing to give you the latest iPhone for free?”

“Worse,” Stephen said, trying to sit up.

“They made an Oreo that’s all cookie and no creme?! Those monsters.”

“No...Anderson Cooper got ranked the #1 Hottest Newsman ahead of me.”

Jon nodded. “Ah. I see. Well, where did I place?”

“Come on, Jon. Be realistic. We both know you didn’t make the list.”

Jon stared at Stephen for a moment, then shrugged. “Yeah, that sounds right. But Stephen, you made #2!”

“#2 is poop,” Stephen said. “No one cares about #2! I might as well be a Star Wars prequel. How can I be a beacon to the Colbert Nation if I’m only #2?”

“Stephen, Stephen, Stephen,” Jon said softly as he knelt down and wrapped his arms around his best friend. “I think we both know what this is really about.”

“We do?”

Jon nodded. “Who is your biggest enemy?”

“Bears? Nazis? OH MY GOD, NAZI BEARS are out to enslave us?!”

“I was thinking maybe something a little less terrifying. And also maybe something that actually exists.”

“Wait, you don’t mean...journalists? This whole thing is a vast news conspiracy, and they’ve tried to weaken me with their fake newsman ranking system?”

“Well, I don’t--”

“I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS INJUSTICE! THIS IS AN AFFRONT TO TRUTHINESS AND THE COLBERT WAY!” Stephen leaped up from the floor and ran out of the Daily Show break room at breakneck speed. Jon turned to the remaining correspondents.

“And that’s how you deal with Stephen. You guys are going to need to remember this when I’m gone…’cause he’s going to keep showing up.”

John Oliver nodded. “Yep. I’ve got an HBO show and I still sneak in from time to time.”

Hassan Minaj looked at him. “Is the food service here really that much better?”

John Oliver shrugged. “No, but I’m not paying for it.”