Government Shutdown: Late-Night Hosts' Best Jokes

Stephen Colbert

After serving as one of "Daily Show's" most popular correspondents, he spun off into "The Colbert Report" (which has won two writing Emmys).

The government shut down at midnight ET on Monday.

The move was a result of Republicans and Democrats' inability to come to an agreement on a new spending bill.

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Ahead of the shutdown, the late-night hosts weighed in on the situation in their monologues while taping their Monday night shows. Here are some of their best jokes:

Jay Leno:

-- "If the government does shut down, nonessential White House employees will be sent home without pay. So more bad news for Joe Biden."

-- "Since 1976, there have been 17 government shutdowns. The longest was during the four years that Jimmy Carter was president."

Jimmy Kimmel:

-- "Midnight tonight is the deadline for Congress to pass their budget for the year. And if they don’t, things shut down -- which is bad because we need to keep the government working so they can continue to not do things on our behalf."

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-- "If they don’t or didn't reach a compromise tonight -- the budget won’t be passed and a partial shutdown will go into effect. Which I hope means I won’t get any more parking tickets."

-- "Interestingly, polls show that most Americans say they don’t like Obamacare -- but they love what's in it. It's like the opposite of a McNugget."

Jimmy Fallon:

-- "Yeah, money is tight right now in Washington. In fact after 128 years, the National Aquarium in D.C. may have to close because it's running out of money. Officials say they plan on relocating all the fish to another aquarium nearby -- then the fish were like, 'Hey, isn't that a Red Lobster?' "

Conan O'Brien:

-- "Our government may be shutting down in a few hours. So folks, get ready for absolutely no noticeable difference."

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-- "If there is a government shutdown, most of the White House staff will be sent home. Which means there’ll only be nine guys whose job it is to keep Joe Biden away from the president."

Stephen Colbert:

-- The host displayed a countdown clock -- dubbed "Rockin' Government Shutdown Eve" -- that was flashing 12:00: "I never learned how to set these things."

-- "Tonight I will be covering the end of the government in a must-see TV event: the finale of Breaking Gov. It started out as a highly sympathetic character in the 1770s, but in 230 seasons has become an egotistical, self-destructive maniac."

Arsenio Hall:

--  "As of now we still don’t know whether Congress is going to vote to shut down the government. However, it looks like they still might burn it down for the insurance money."

-- "All this drama is very confusing to all the hookers in D.C. They don’t know whether they have to go to work tomorrow either."

-- "Now, I’m not sure how politics works, but I’m pretty sure if the government shuts down it means that we don’t have to pay taxes. I’m just kidding, Wesley Snipes … that’s a joke … pay your taxes."

Craig Ferguson:

-- "It’s a great day for America. … Or is it? 'Cause our government is officially out of money at midnight tonight. Unless, of course, Congress can act. … We’re screwed, we’re out of money then."
-- "If the government shuts down, the national parks & the museums are closed. ... But national parks, though? That is madness. Where will all the bears go? West Hollywood, San Francisco. Grrr."

David Letterman:

-- "Even if they shut down, Americans don't care. The last time Americans cared about anything was when they shut down the Twinkie factory."

-- "The shutdown will affect some national parks -- will be shut down, some museums, some national monuments will be shut down. For example, down in Washington, they're going to close the Smithsonian Museum. So if you have tickets, forget it. You're not getting in. They're going to close the Smithsonian Museum. They're going to close the Air and Space Museum. You're not getting into there. They're closing the Hillary Clinton Pantsuit Museum."