Throughout his time as host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert has had a knack for getting his name put onto things. There's a spider, a bald eagle, he's got a Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor with his mug on it, a minor league hockey team's mascot, and even a NASA treadmill all named in his honor. It's obvious that the ability of his Colbert Nation to stuff a ballot box is something that every politician envies.
Things have gotten so Colbert-crazy that some organizations and sports teams are opting to have a Colbert theme just in hopes of getting some free publicity. The latest case of this comes from Normal, Illinois where the owners of a future minor league baseball franchise are having a contest for the team's future fans to vote for the team's name and mascot.
One of the options? The Coal Bears.
Not surprisingly, Coal Bears jumped out to an early lead in the balloting, but now according to the website www.normalcoalbears.com, there is controversy afoot!
Early voting seemed to indicate that "Coal Bears," an obvious reference to cable television icon and brilliant comedian Stephen Colbert, was the clear favorite, with a 95% of the vote as of April 20, a post on the Colbert Nation website may have been responsible for putting the name so far in the lead. The next day, however, voting numbers had shifted dramatically in a suspicious direction. CornBelters who had held 1% of the vote fell to 0%, Normal Nutz who held 1% of the vote became the favorite with 55% of the vote, Coal Bears fell from 95% to 41%, and NightHawks fell from 3% to 1%. As of 1:00 a.m. on April 22, the numbers shifted again: Coal Bears 24%, CornBelters 0%, Nighthawks 0%, Nutz 75%.
Let's do some math... Normal is a very small town, so we can be pretty safe in assuming that on the first day of voting we received approximately 100 total votes. 95 for Colbert, 1 for Nutz, and 4 split between the other two choices. In order for a shift this dramatic to take place there would have had to have been 351 votes for the Nutz whilst NOBODY voted for the Coal Bears. We all know that the Colbert Nation would not let such a travesty occur. If 3 people had voted for The Coal Bears in that time, it would have taken over 1,000 votes for the Nutz to offset the number. Doesn't seem right to us. (UPDATE: Members of Colbert Nation are reporting to have registered up to 500 votes, meaning the Nutz would need to receive over 5,000 votes while Coal Bears receive 3. Seems even more unlikely.)
Further investigation by Normal resident Lawrence Davis revealed that the Web site's coded voting mechanism, used to conduct the public vote, was using some shady values which could mean the count has been reset up to 3 times since it was launched.
It's the 2000 Presidential election all over again.
Now the reason that some believe there's a conspiracy going on against the Coal Bears is that one of the other options to vote for is the Normal Nutz. That name is a candidate because the company that produces Beer Nuts is located in Normal, so they could provide some nice corporate sponsorship for a new team trying to gain traction in the fast-paced world of minor league baseball.
There's also the fact that www.normalnutz.com has already been registered under the name of Mike Thiessen, who is a consultant for the Normal Tobedetermineds.
No word on when Congress will decide on when to have a hearing on these matters, but odds are they won't unless it's discovered that Colbert and his followers have been taking steroids.
Along with writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls.