Getting the word-boundary pun on 'lexicon artist' as 'lexi con artist' is nice, of course. And he goes into classic Colbert coinage-every-10-seconds mode.
But really, haven't you wondered what the hell McCain* means by "transcendental challenge", and "transcendent threat"? Just to be clear, he's defined it directly as "radical Islamic extremism". This has barely been discussed (see here, for one example), and I don't think McCain has really been challenged on this.
Here's the full definition of transcendental from M-W's 11th:
1 a : TRANSCENDENT 1b b : SUPERNATURAL c : ABSTRUSE, ABSTRACT d : of or relating to transcendentalismSeriously, 2 is a non-starter, unless you are Randall Munroe, author of xkcd and our generation's funniest math/sci person. Few things seem less supernatural, abstruse or abstract than guys sending around videos about how they want to destroy western democracies. 3 seems absurd too. If, like Colbert, we go back to transcendent, maybe the most viable candidate is this:
2 a : incapable of being the root of an algebraic equation with rational coefficients ** is a transcendental number* b : being, involving, or representing a function (as sin x, log x, ex) that cannot be expressed by a finite number of algebraic operations *transcendental curves*
3 in Kantian philosophy a : of or relating to experience as determined by the mind's makeup b : transcending experience but not human knowledge
being beyond comprehension.If so, it's the crudest of scare tactics. Doesn't it seem like we need nothing more than to comprehend what this challenge is and how best to respond to it?
* Most of the nicknames for McCain so far don't move the needle beyond "mildly amusing" on my laugh-meter. McSame and McBush make a point (tie to Bush), McSane and McCrazy get some sad irony into the picture, McWhere'sMyCane and a lot of others remind us that he first went to war against the Kurgan invaders. See here for one list.