A burly beast of a man bursts into a presidential press conference and is shot in the leg by secret police. Two days later, the White House reveals that the befuddled intruder with a handlebar mustache is really former President William Howard Taft.
So begins Taft 2012, a novel that gives a satirical take on contemporary politics through the eyes of a president who served a century ago. Author Jason Heller places Taft in a 21st-century election campaign, where he is forced to sit in bars on New Year's Eve and master Twitter along the way.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is running for president. He's parodying the process — including, now, superPACS — in the same way he has parodied cable news. He's getting plenty of attention, but to really look into his political practical joke, I needed to go upstairs and find Peter Overby, NPR's man on campaign finance. I warned him it would seem like a dumb question, but I needed his help. What, exactly, is a superPAC?