Stephen Colbert officially replaced David Letterman on “The Late Show” Tuesday, promising a more politicized version of the standard late-night talk show. What the liberal comic flashed on his opening night was a willingness to let conservatives speak their piece (to a point), a hunger to mock GOP front-runner billionaire Donald Trump — and little appetite for any Hillary Clinton barbs.

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Colbert’s show looked similar to his late night brethren. Shiny wooden desk. Topical monologue. Hip band. Adoring audience. Except that without Colbert’s signature comic mask, that of the blowhard conservative pundit from his Comedy Central days, audiences weren’t quite sure what they were watching.

The opening monologue, and some of the comic pieces that followed, fizzled. An Ashley Madison gag felt stale (it was), and a cursed amulet routine reminded viewers of the desperation Chevy Chase exhibited during his ill-fated talk show. A good host knows when to abandon a dying bit.

The new late night band, John Batiste and Stay Human, was clearly trying too hard on opening night. One band mate hopped atop a piano to play and dance rather than letting the music speak for itself.

Colbert got political right from the start, throwing a quick jab at Donald Trump during the monologue. He was just warming up a routine that most closely echoed his “Colbert Report” days. Seated at his desk, he scarfed some Oreo cookies as a metaphor tied to Trump’s blasting Nabisco for moving a factory to Mexico. Who else would stand up to “Big Cookie,” as Colbert called him? Suddenly, the “old” Colbert was back, and he could tee off on a GOP favorite.

With every bite, he broke out another Trump gag, going back to sound bites from Aug. 25 to make his points.

Would Colbert ask Hillary Clinton a similar question about her husband’s policies?

Meanwhile, a treasure trove of Hillary’s woes were just waiting to be exploited, not to mention the socialist candidate trouncing her in New Hampshire. Perhaps Colbert will get to them later in the week. Or, he’ll continue his biased comedy selection and serve as the Democratic Party’s unofficial comedy SuperPAC. That may work on cable TV, where ratings expectations are modest. That could doom him on CBS, where he needs to compete with more politically neutral hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

Colbert’s first guest, George Clooney, appeared next, armed with a salt-and-pepper goatee and nary a product to plug. The conversation was amiable but stilted, bouncing awkwardly from the actor’s interest in Darfur to a fake movie project dubbed “Decision Strike.” And then it was time for Colbert’s first political guest, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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“You are, with one exception, the front-runner,” Colbert cracked. The host let Bush rattle off some stump speech bromides before throwing a few curveball questions.

Colbert brought up how Bush’s own mother, Barbara Bush, suggested we shouldn’t have another Clinton — or Bush — in the White House. Later, he asked Bush to explain his political differences with his brother, former President George W. Bush. Would Colbert ask Hillary Clinton a similar question about her husband’s policies?

Bush exhibited a higher level of energy than viewers might have expected given his generally low-key approach. He’s still an unlikely fit for the late night format. When asked how he differed politically with brother George W. Bush, Jeb Bush argued that his brother should have reined in spending with vetoes during the final four years of his presidency. That’s not what conservatism is about, the brother argued.

“They call me, ‘Veto Corleone’ in Florida,” Bush bragged about his record.

“We have to restore civility,” Bush said.

Colbert played up the false narrative that most conservatives think President Barack Obama wasn’t born in this country and hate every move he makes. That’s precious, considering how the Left demonized Bush’s brother for eight years. Just Google “Bush Hitler” and see how many hits come up.

Bush tried to present himself as a healer, someone who thinks his opponents are wrong on policy matters, not targeting them personally.

“We have to restore civility,” Bush said.

All the while, Colbert was far more engaged than during his Clooney chat, leaning in — looking for a sign of weakness, perhaps? Colbert brings the same creative team from his “Colbert Report,” the Comedy Central program that let him mock conservative talkers, to “The Late Show.” That decision will likely play itself out in the days and weeks to come.

So the true measure of Colbert’s tenure at “The Late Show” may come as soon as Thursday, not during his Tuesday night debut. That’s when Vice President Joe Biden graces the comic’s new stage. Will Colbert ask Biden why he keeps talking down an economy he’s overseen for seven years? That’s the kind of question begging to be asked. If not, he’s merely transplanted his GOP bashing persona from cable to broadcast TV.