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In a fiery appearance on Monday’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart stepped up his criticism of Mitch McConnell over the legislative delay of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extension.
In recent weeks, Stewart has focused his anger on McConnell for slow walking the extension of an act that provides healthcare and services for 9/11 first responders. The fund expires next year. The former Daily Show host made an impassioned plea to the Senate and has repeatedly called out lawmakers for delaying the extension, even going so far as to appear on Fox News Sunday and describe McConnell as the “white whale” of this issue since 2010.
McConnell responded to the criticism, saying he didn’t know why Stewart was “bent out of shape,” and denied he was slow walking the issue and that the extension would pass when it came up for renewal.
“I’m not bent out of shape, I’m fine. I’m bent out of shape for them. These are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions-of-dollars War on Terror. And they are currently dying, suffering and in terrible need. You know, you would think that would be enough for Congress to pay attention, but apparently, it’s not,” Stewart said on the Late Show.
Colbert then played a clip of McConnell suggesting that Congress was busy and Stewart was seeking attention. Stewart responded sarcastically that he felt “like an asshole” for going to the hearing and that he “didn’t know they were busy.” “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt them, with their jobs!”
Stewart proceeded to challenge McConnell for his “we’ll get to it when we get to it” argument by mocking the senator’s physical likeness to a turtle. “Listen, Senator. I know that your species isn’t known for moving quickly,” he said, before pausing to explain that his comment was “a little red meat for the base.”
He continued: “But damn, Senator. You’re not good at this argument thing. Basically, we’re saying you love the 9/11 community when they serve your political purposes. But when they’re in urgent need, you slow walk. You use it as a political pawn to get other things you want.” He added that McConnell fails to get the job done “completely.”
Stewart went on to explain that this bill is a result of compiling bipartisan respondents and advocates for a year, and it’s just hoped that McConnell won’t “jack us around” like he’s done in the past. “If you want to know why the 9/11 community is bent out of shape over these past, let’s call it 18 years, meet with them tomorrow, as soon as possible. Don’t make them beg for it.”
Stewart continued to beg McConnell to pass the bill as a standalone bill, but should he refuse, he shared some words of wisdom for the future.
“Just understand the next time we have a war or you’re being robbed or your house is on fire and you make that desperate call for help, don’t get bent out of shape if they show up at the last minute with fewer people then you thought were going to pay attention and don’t actually put it out. just leave it there smoldering for another five years, ’cause that’s how shit’s done around here, mister. I’m sure they’ll put it out for good when they feel like getting around to it. No offense.”
Following Stewart’s remarks, Colbert urged the viewers to watch “my friend” speak out. “He very beautifully, very eloquently spoke about our responsibility, the small sacrifice that we need to make as a nation, and that politicians need to make up on that dais that he was speaking to, to honor the commitment that we made to these people who put their lives on the line for all of us.” He then asked viewers to call their representative and all representatives, and keep calling until funds are reauthorized.
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