Late Night: Jon Stewart mocks congressional birth control hearings

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The culture wars are alive and well on late-night television.

Last week, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert memorably lampooned the Catholic Church’s objection to government-mandated contraceptive health benefits. On Monday night, the trend continued with a ‘Daily Show’ segment mocking Rep. Darrell Issa’s male-dominated congressional hearing on the controversial subject.

Stewart pointed out the unfortunate optics of the hearing, which featured one entirely male panel of conservative clergy members, and not a single pro-birth-control female. ‘While no ladies actually ever spoke on behalf of ladies, some of these fellas were wearing gowns, so that’s something,’ he said.


The ‘hyperbolic’ panelists did little to quell Stewart’s concerns: Republican Rep. Tim Walberg invoked Stalin, while Dr. C. Ben Mitchell of Union University claimed that the mandate was equivalent to ‘nothing less than the rape of the soul.’

On a bit of a tangent, Stewart also questioned the Catholic Church’s support of health insurance plans that cover Viagra: ‘How is it that women can’t get their pill and men can get their pill?’ In footage from a 2000 interview, a spokesperson for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops explained that “Viagra actually answers a medical problem. ... Contraception is a choice that somebody will make, but it doesn’t answer a particular healthcare need.”

Stewart was not convinced by the distinction. ‘So the Catholic Church says a[n erection] is a need, but not getting pregnant is more of a want?’

Returning to the subject of last Thursday’s hearing, Stewart also took issue with an analogy drawn by Bishop William E. Lori, who likened the birth control mandate to a kosher deli forced to serve ham sandwiches.

After taking a bite from an enormous pastrami sandwich, Stewart took issue with the bishop’s testimony. ‘Your parable about the kosher deli, while delicious, makes no ... sense,’ he said. ‘Nobody’s forcing the kosher deli owner to serve a ham. In the metaphor, it’s more like the owner of the kosher deli is refusing to pay taxes because his money could go to food stamps, which someone could theoretically use to buy ham.’

No word on who’s paying for the mustard.

(Warning: The clip below includes some late-night language.)



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-- Meredith Blake