Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Stephen Colbert introduced his first guest, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as a “superstar,” and, judging from his audience’s extended standing ovation and spontaneous chants of “AOC!,” he appears not to be just blowing smoke. With the Bronx representative sitting down for a two-segment chat about all things governmental, Colbert started out by asking the first-year public servant her thoughts about the just-concluded Democratic debate. (That’s the 10-person first half of the two-night debate schedule among the literal score of people lining up to hurl Donald Trump out of the White House.)

Confessing that she, like many Americans, has a little trouble differentiating among some of the more nondescript underdogs in the race (hang in there, John Delaney and Tim Ryan), Ocasio-Cortez was especially vocal in her appreciation for the performances of Elizabeth Warren, Julián Castro, and Cory Booker (particularly on criminal justice reform), while giving a noncommittal response to Colbert’s question about supposed front-runner Joe Biden (who’s part of tomorrow night’s Dem scrum). Calling it “dangerous to assume” that any candidate in this all-important election is a “safe choice,” Ocasio-Cortez cautioned strategists and pundits against Biden’s presumed centrist appeal, citing disillusionment in communities slighted by such a run to the middle as a real danger when it comes to voter turnout. With Colbert quoting one such pundit for claiming that the abundance of progressive talking points in this first debate shows that “AOC is winning the debate tonight,” the congresswoman demurred, while reiterating her belief that a real, progressive discussion about the fact that, say, Miami might be underwater in 50 years is both a viable Democratic strategy, and a sort of vital issue in itself.

Back to the “superstar” idea, Colbert noted that Ocasio-Cortez is currently winning praise for her no-bullshit, substantive questioning of witnesses before the committees on which she serves (Oversight and Finance). With Robert Mueller finally testifying in open session on July 17th about what she termed the “scandalous contents” of the Mueller Report, AOC promised that the very public airing of some of the most egregious acts by Donald Trump and his coterie of sycophantic co-conspirators will indeed focus and accelerate the growing calls for impeachment. Summing up Trump’s actions as having “put himself first in at the cost of our national security and the security of our national election system,” Ocasio-Cortez suggested that, once the American public has the actual details spelled out to them on live TV, they’re going to realize just how neck-deep Trump and company are in that swamp Trump keeps talking about.

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And speaking of co-conspirators, AOC roasted Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, who just that day blew off a hearing into her many, many, many violations of the Hatch Act, which bans public officials from using their official office to promote political campaigns (or hawk the president’s daughter’s sweatshop-made clothing line). Noting that, when Republicans shut down the government, the 800,000 federal workers struggling to make ends meet were precluded from organizing because of that very same Hatch Act, Ocasio-Cortez declared that this is “not about a rule of law that the rich and powerful are exempt from.” The fact that Conway not only blew off Congress, but called into Fox News’ morning propaganda-and-coffee broadcast Fox & Friends at the exact time she was supposed to testify led Ocasio-Cortez to mock Conway for getting caught out like a person calling in sick to work and then getting busted by their boss. “You’re getting a subpoena,” declared AOC, who, indeed, sounded suspiciously like a boss.