Stephen Colbert performs 'The Ballad of Cliven Bundy'

Stephen Colbert performs 'The Ballad of Cliven Bundy'
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy speaks to the media. (David Becker / Getty Images)

The tale of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his standoff with the federal government over his ability to let his cattle graze federal lands without paying took an even more inflammatory turn Wednesday when video came to light of the outspoken rancher speaking about "the negro" and speculating if African Americans would be better off as slaves. Media pundits such as Sean Hannity quickly backed off their embrace of Bundy as a modern folk hero, but Stephen Colbert wasn't afraid to immortalize the man in song.

On Thursday's "Colbert Report," the host whipped out a guitar and a ten-gallon hat to perform "The Ballad of Cliven Bundy," with lyrics recounting the rancher's decades-long battle with the federal government.

Included were nods to the land dispute and Bundy's media star status thanks to Fox News' Sean Hannity, whom Colbert said, "ate up that story so hard, Bundy should have charged him grazing fees."

But when it came to Bundy's remarks on race, even Colbert packed it in and stopped his song. (His backup player had the same idea.)

"Unfortunately, nothing rhymes with negro," Colbert told his audience.

Colbert's immediate backing away from Bundy mirrored Hannity's distancing of himself on Thursday after Bundy's racist remarks made national news. However, Colbert had a unique rationale for Bundy's statements.

"He's just being consistent," Colbert said. "He doesn't believe in the federal government so it would be hypocritical of him to believe in the Emancipation Proclamation."