Sen. Whitehouse appears on 'The Colbert Report'

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse appeared on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" Monday night.

The Rhode Island Democrat went on ostensibly to discuss his book, "On Virtues: Quotations and Insights to Live a Full, Honorable and Truly American Life."{} (Watch the complete episode.)

But he also absorbed some good-natured barbs from host Stephen Colbert. As an example, when Whitehouse mentioned it has taken him 20 years to compile the notes for his book, Colbert wanted to know if that was why Congress cannot get anything done, because it takes lawmakers so long to write a book.

Turning serious, Rhode Island's junior senator said Washington, D.C., is a little short on virtue at present.

"I want to do what I can," said Whitehouse, "to try and push a different debate into the discussion, and to look back and see what people have said and done at some of the most important times in history. Things that capture a particular piece of the human spirit. I think that adds a little bit of value."

Colbert shot back that Democrats don't know about virtues, because virtue is a conservative ideal.

"The Colbert Report" is a late night satirical television program that airs on Comedy Central.