With recent polls showing Americans increasingly frustrated with the debt-ceiling fight in Washington, Comedy Central’s late-night comedians are finding a goldmine of material -- and no party is safe from satire.
In a segment titled “Armadebtdon 2011” on Tuesday, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” lambasted President Obama’s plea for Americans to make the case for compromise directly to their members of Congress.
“That’s your idea, call your congressman?” Stewart chortled. “Did the president just quit?”
Stewart also took aim at the optics. Rolling tape from Obama’s Monday speech in the opulent East Room, he suggested that Obama’s message of fiscal austerity might be undermined by the “begoldened-chaired, red-carpet path” the president had just walked and wondered if there was any way Obama could “do the ‘tighten the belt’ speech from a room that doesn’t look like the foyer of the Vatican?”
“If Willie Wonka had to address America’s chocolate shortage,” Stewart mused, “he might not do it from the waterfall room.”
On Thursday night, it was congressional Republicans and the tea party who found themselves the target of Stewart’s scorn. The comedian had a field day with reports that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) screened a clip from the Boston crime film, “The Town,” to fire up recalcitrant freshmen in support of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-reduction bill. In one scene, a character asks his friend: “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later, and we’re gonna hurt some people.”
“Whose car are we gonna take?” the friend replies.
“’The Town’?” Stewart deadpanned. “No ‘Rudy,’ ‘Brian’s Song,’ or ‘300’? Or ‘Rocky’ or ‘Rocky II,’ ‘Rocky III’ -- really any of the ‘Rockys.’ You went with the Boston-bank-robbers-in-nun-costumes flick?”
He went on to spin out the apparent metaphor that GOP leaders were impressing upon the tea party freshmen: “The establishment Republicans are saying to the Tea Party upstarts, ‘Hey, you know the violent, unstable, borderline sociopath from ‘The Town’? ... that’s you guys. And the guy who’s stuck in an uneasy alliance with you, but doesn’t really like you and ultimately saves himself by walking away from you as you are dying? That’s us. So, do we have your vote?”
Later that night, “The Colbert Report’s” Stephen Colbert seized on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) Senate-floor dressing down of conservatives pushing a balanced budget amendment on Wednesday, in which McCain read from a Wall Street Journal editorial that compared the tea party to the Hobbits of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise. After noting that Mark Meckler of Tea Party Patriots retorted that McCain had clearly been “corrupted by the Ring of Power,” Colbert was beside himself.
“I am disappointed,” Colbert said. “This is a monumental issue that could affect the economy for a generation of Americans. Four days until the country could default, and these clowns in Washington are using “The Lord of the Rings” to say that John McCain is Sauron? That is ridiculous. McCain is clearly Saruman.”
Colbert then recounted an elaborate “Lord of the Rings” metaphor, in which President Obama is the evil overlord Sauron, while Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- as well as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), “just on appearances” -- are actually the Hobbits.
And the good wizard Gandalf? He’s the tea party, per Colbert’s telling: “You shall not pass -- legislation raising the debt ceiling!” the faux-pundit exclaimed.
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