“The Daily Show” returned Monday after an unusually newsy holiday hiatus that included the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the manufactured drama of the fiscal cliff negotiations.
In his first broadcast of 2013, Jon Stewart chose to direct his attention at another big story that took place over the break: the failure of the outgoing House of Representatives to approve (or even vote on) a relief package for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Regular “Daily Show” watchers may recall a couple of years ago when Stewart launched a crusade against conservative lawmakers who were reluctant to provide health benefits for 9/11 first responders. Thanks in part to the public shaming, the bill eventually passed.
Stewart returned Monday with the same sense of righteous indignation, directing his ire at congressional Republicans. First, he took them to task for not putting the $60 billion aid package to a vote before they adjourned last week. “House Republicans probably wanted to get home,” he reasoned. “ You know who else wanted to get home? The people whose homes got swept away by Hurricane Sandy.”
The move was so “redonkulous,” according to Stewart, that even Republican Rep. Peter King of New York – not a man known for his moderation – blasted it as a “disgrace.”
Eventually, the House got around to approving $9 billion in flood funding – delaying a vote on an additional $51 million in relief until next week because, as Stewart joked, “What’s another week when you’ve been [in trouble] for months?”
Given that voting for hurricane recovery is something that “Jesus, or any other human being that isn’t” a jerk would do, Stewart wondered why 67 Republicans voted against the $9 billion package. Among them was former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who dismissed the bill as pork-barrel spending. Stewart wasn’t buying it. “It’s two paragraphs that add 9.7 billion to the national flood insurance program and nothing else,” he said. “There’s as much pork in here as in the mini fridge in the PETA break room. there’s no pork in this thing.”
He also argued that Republicans who claimed they objected to Sandy relief for principled ideological reasons were nothing short of hypocrites. “Exhibit A” was Mississippi Rep. Steve Palazzo, who as recently as last year was asking for money for constituents hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Look, Republicans, I get that you’re the party of limited government. But we’re not talking about Obamacare here, this was two paragraphs giving aid to people in need and you guys still couldn’t bring yourselves to vote for it because of some stupid principle that you yourselves only occasionally live by,” he said. “And here’s the thing: If you guys can’t vote for this then we’re [in trouble] for the next two years. And I’m not saying you’re responsible for all the problems facing our country, but you sure are making them a lot harder to fix.”