Sacha Baron Cohen is not dedicated to his craft. Yeah, the mastermind behind Ali G, Borat, and Bruno knows how to slip inside the skin of another character and bring him to life, but he doesn’t become that character, deep down in his soul. Yes, he may live and breathe Borat every single second that he’s shooting a movie, but he doesn’t allow the Kazakhstani journalist to get into his skull, find the part of the brain where the real Sacha Baron Cohen resides, and kick him the hell out. Nope.

The same can’t be said of Joaquin Phoenix. Nobody allows a character to fully take over his mind, body, and soul like the artist formerly known as Leaf. He is a comedy chameleon and a funny man par excellence — right up there with Gallagher and Gallagher II.

As you are probably aware, Phoenix, who’s currently shooting a movie about his transformation from an actor into a rapper, was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman last week, and it was a comedy bit for the ages. During that performance, Phoenix had the act of a spaced-out movie scab itching for his next fix down pat. He was unable to remember the name of his co-stars and the movie he was there to promote. He stuck a wad of gum to the underside of Dave’s desk. And he shuffled nervously in his seat, like he was uncertain of where he was and why a helluva lot of people were staring at him and his Unabomber beard.

Now I know what you’re going to say: Joaquin Phoenix, well, he’s no Steven Adler. And that’s true. Nobody does an impression of a freezer-burnt druganaut better than the former Guns N’ Roses drummer. But I’ve got this for you: Steven Adler is no Jim DeMint. That guy is the ultimate method actor — and like Phoenix, a comedy genius.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to DeMint, the character he’s taken on is a classic — the perpetually outraged, out-of-touch, right-wing killjoy who is against anything and everything that anybody and everybody has ever done or will do.

I know. I know. Mark Sanford practically invented this role. He’s owned it for years. But now it’s time for Sanford to step aside. There’s a new clown in town.

Consider DeMint’s most recent comedy skit. The one in which he proclaimed that the stimulus package was hijacked by the ACLU, which had convinced lawmakers to insert language in the bill that, DeMint said, could conceivably prevent students from discussing the Good Book with their keg buddies in their dorm rooms. Of course, the anti-religious language is pretty standard legal stuff when it comes to doling out money to state institutions, the type of provision that keeps church and state separate, but DeMint rightfully ignores that in order to deliver a comedy gem.

And this is just the latest in a long line of top-dollar skits from “DeMinted” Jim DeMint. Recently, he’s wowed us with one routine after another.

First, he claimed there would be “riots” in the streets if the auto bailout went through. Then later he referred to President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan as a “mugging.” Ouch. Not even the late great George Carlin delivered such devastatingly over-the-top, but still frakking funny, criticism.

After that, he ripped into Hillary during her confirmation hearings for secretary of state not because of her views on American foreign policy — you know, the type of thing that the head of the State Department is concerned with — but because she is pro-choice.

However, DeMint’s strongest performance came after Sen. John McCain’s devastating loss on Nov. 4. When asked why McCain lost the presidential race, the Upstate senator said, “[McCain’s] proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important.”

Given that these were all things that helped put Obama over the top, make no doubt about it, DeMint’s tongue was planted firmly in cheek.

Just like Joaquin’s bubble gum.

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