In late October, in lieu of airdropping bewildered middle-aged creative-writing minors into the hippie utopia of Williamsburg for culture-shock think pieces, The New York Times opted to pose this burning question to its readers:
Further cementing the paper’s reputation as the trolliest of the troll-hards, the Times’ ridiculous poll spread online faster than a picture of a bottle of Champagne being popped onto Kim Kardashian’s bulbous ass. It even made its way all the way to the ear of GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who, when asked the question, told The Huffington Post, “Hell, yeah, I would! You gotta step up, man.”
What most Times readers probably didn’t know is that the poll question was ripped from a sketch that aired back on Oct. 1 on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In it, Colbert and guest Tom Hanks were resting on a blanket under the stars, asking the big questions.
“Tom, what would you do with a time machine?” asked Colbert. “What would anyone do with a time machine?” Hanks replied. “Go back in time and hold myself as a baby.” “And kill Hitler, right?” added Colbert.
“Oh, and kill Hitler. Yeah, sure,” Hanks said.
Well, on Tuesday night’s edition of The Late Show, Colbert addressed Bush’s answer to the baby Hitler question—taking on the craze he originated once and for all.
“Now, I’m not running for president, but here’s what I would do with a time machine: I, too, would travel back to the time of baby Hitler,” said Colbert.
“But here’s where me and Jeb’s time streams start to diverge, because I wouldn’t kill young Adolf. I would take him from his parents and raise him with love. I would give Hitler a safe, supportive home; all the while, I would watch him like a hawk. I wouldn’t let him join anything where they have to wear a uniform—no Cub Scouts, no Little League, definitely no marching band. Most importantly, I would teach baby Hitler that we do not solve our problems with violence, and then, if he starts to get mouthy as a teenager, I’d stick a knife in his ribs and snap off the handle.” He added: “And, if that attack fails and the horror of being stabbed by a person he thinks is his father turns him into a monstrous dictator, it’s easily fixable: I’d just go back in time and kill baby me. You’re welcome.”