Stephen Colbert and his audience felt the Bern on Friday night's Late Show as the host dedicated much of the episode to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who is steadily closing in on Hillary Clinton's once-impenetrable lead in the Democratic presidential field. Before Sanders sat down for their interview, Colbert first served up a "Bern Notice" summarizing the candidate's "meteoric rise." "He's rising, you know, like meteors do," Colbert quipped.
"Sanders' popularity is surprising because he's a self-described socialist who would also be our oldest president ever. The man is 74 years old," Colbert said. "That's five years older than Donald Trump, and 50 years older than anyone Donald Trump would marry." Colbert then marveled at Sanders' ability to pack sports arenas throughout the country, drawing tens of thousands to his town hall events. "A guy in his seventies filling stadiums? Who does he think he is, a Rolling Stone?" Colbert said. After hyping the candidate, Sanders sat down with Colbert to discuss his campaign and why he's soaring in the polls.
"I knew we had a message that would resonate with the American people. This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, yet almost all of the income and wealth is going to the top one percent, and people do not feel good about that," Sanders said of his rise. "At a time where we're seeing more millionaires and billionaires, we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any other major country on Earth. We are the only major wealthy country that doesn't guarantee health care to all people, family and medical leave, paid sick time, paid vacation time, and people are asking, 'Why?'"
Colbert then asked Sanders about being a self-proclaimed socialist and why the Vermont senator doesn't recognize that term as an insult. Sanders instead explained that he views himself as a progressive above all else:
Sanders' surge in the polls – he's now leading Hillary Clinton in some surveys – is similar to that of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but Sanders sees very little in common between their two campaigns. "I think that what Trump is doing is appealing to the baser instincts among us: xenophobia and, frankly, racism," Sanders said. "Describing an entire group of people – in this case Mexicans – as rapists or as criminals... That's the same old thing that's gone on in this country for a very long time. You target some group of people, and you go after them. You take people's anger, and you turn it against them – you win votes on that. I think that is disgraceful and not something we should be doing in 2015."
Sanders also reiterated that, despite facing competitors with huge campaign accounts, he will not rely on a Super PAC for donations because he doesn't support the billionaire class. "I don't want their money," he said. While Sanders turned down big money from the big corporations, his support among musicians is growing. On Friday, Team Sanders announced the over 150 artists, actors and other cultural leaders who are feeling the Bern, and the list features all four members of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jello Biafra, Killer Mike, Sebadoh's Lou Barlow, MC5's Wayne Kramer, Phish's Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman, Jeff Tweedy, Serj Tankian, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Lil B and many more.
"Right now there is a shift of the generations. Honesty and being in touch with the common man and woman is key," Lil B said in a statement. "This is where Bernie Sanders comes to mind with his essence and truth." As Late Show discovered, Sanders is also a man who dislikes rainy Mondays and post-David Lee Roth Van Halen: