WASHINGTON – After a year spent defending Donald Trump on the cable news networks, Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence finally hit the big time this week.
Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah mocked Collins on their Tuesday night shows for his appearance earlier in the day on CNN.
Harsher still, Colbert – and Buffalo-born actress Christine Baranski – did something unusual that some viewers considered a low blow, even by the standards of late night comedy. They mocked the congressman's spouse, Mary Collins, portraying her as a wine-swilling lonely housewife abandoned by her husband on Valentine's Day.
It started when Colbert echoed the concern that CNN host Chris Cuomo raised during Collins' appearance on that network early Tuesday morning – that Republicans were refusing to discuss the resignation of Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser.
"For a major political scandal, Republicans have been conspicuously silent – everybody but New York congressman and man with slowly shrinking head Chris Collins," Colbert said.
Colbert then showed Collins explaining the silence of GOP leaders on the Flynn resignation.
"Well, it's Valentine's Day, and I guess they're having breakfast with their wives," Collins said.
The crowd laughed, and Colbert kept them laughing, saying: "Of course! What was I thinking! Valentine's Day breakfast! That old tradition that all of us do! That's why Republicans were so quiet on this issue: they were all having breakfast with their sweethearts."
But then Colbert asked: "Why wasn't Congressman Collins with his wife?"
Enter Baranski, playing Collins' wife and wearing a red dress and a demeanor of drunken disappointment. She said she had hoped to have breakfast with her husband.
"But he was gone before I woke up, off to CNN. So I had breakfast for one,” Baranski said, raising a glass of white wine to her lips.
The fake Mrs. Collins – who professed not to even know it was Valentine's Day – then reflected on the nicer morning that other congressional wives must have enjoyed.
“Apparently all of them were elbow-deep in heart-shaped waffles. Good for them! I’m happy for them!” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m sure Congressman Collins has a big surprise planned for whenever he gets done talking about Michael Flynn," she continued, speaking the retired general's name with contempt. "He does love that Michael Flynn. I’ll bet they had Valentine’s Day lunch together.
"But he’ll be home for dinner. I’m sure of it," Baranski continued, adding, as her voice cracked: "I have to be.”
The skit ended with Colbert saying: "Happy Valentine's Day, Mrs. Collins."
Baranski replied: "Happy regular day."
With that, she picked up a second glass of wine and clinked the two glasses together.
Colbert's skit can be seen here, with the section referring to Collins and his wife beginning at about the 2:40 mark.
Collins' office did not respond to a request for comment on the sketch, but some of Colbert's viewers were less than amused.
"Seems kind of mean to joke about his face and his wife when he's the only Republican willing to speak on the Flynn issue," one viewer commented on YouTube.
"Collins deserved it," said former Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, on Facebook. "His wife did not! Spouses and children should be off-limits, unless they do or say something themselves."
Meantime, on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," host Trevor Noah aimed his barbs at Collins, but not his wife. His sometimes slightly salacious comments on Collins can be seen here, starting at about the 1:04 mark.
Noah seemed particularly amused that the congressman dismissed Flynn's resignation by saying: "I call it a guess-what, now-what world. Guess what? He's resigned. Now what? We've got a lot of issues to deal with."
Hearing that, Noah posed a question.
"What does that even mean?" he asked.
The late-night comedian also said of Collins: "I've never heard of this guy before today. But now, I'll never forget him."