Although the Comedy Central super-duo of Colbert and Stewart approach their political commentary with a healthy dose of satire, between the two of them, they just might be the hardest-hitting political reporters many Americans will see during this election cycle. For close to a year, now, Colbert, particularly, has had an ongoing feature to shine a light on super PACs. In order to make his point more effectively, he’s gone as far as to create a super PAC, which ran an advertising campaign promoting Colbert as a candidate during the recent South Carolina Republican primary election.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for CNN or MSNBC or Fox. This isn’t to say that these news networks don’t cover issues like this, but I really don’t see them going after issues with the tenacity and vigor that Colbert and Stewart demonstrate.
On the other hand, I guess there’s always SNL, isn’t there?
Americans have pretty much checked out when it comes to keeping an eye on their elected representatives. With the possible exception of really big votes, we never even pay attention to how these representatives are voting. I think that’s going to have to change if we have any hope of getting our government to work for us.
In addition to voting records, it’s also pretty illuminating to see where campaign funding is coming from for these elected officials. Here are a few web sites that’ll let you keep an eye on what your government is up to:
- Maplight.org: This is a pretty cool site. Not only will it let you drill into how members of Congress voted, it also documents where lobbying money is being applied.
- Opensecrets.org: Another great source of information. Check out the “heavy hitters” list – it’s a list of the top all-time campaign donors from 1989 through 2012.
- Followthemoney.org: This site has some great local connections. Type in your address and see financial information about candidates in your area.
- Govtrack.us: Lets you view statistics and track issues you’re interested in.
- Opencongress.org: This is mainly aimed at letting you communicate with your representatives, but their “money trail” feature can help you see campaign contributions for these politicians.