‘The Daily Show’ discovers Australian politics as absurd as our own

We are smack dab in the middle of what is traditionally the slowest news month of the year, with Congress in recess and seemingly the rest of the world on vacation. While this seasonal news drought can lead to some very dull headlines, as “The Daily Show” proved Monday night, it can also pay off in unexpected ways.

That’s when John Oliver turned his attention to the land down under, where he was delighted to discover that despite an accelerated campaign cycle, Australian politics are every bit as absurd as our own.

Oliver began by highlighting the positive aspects of Australian democracy – namely, that citizens are required by law to vote. “They spend a huge amount of time and energy getting people to the polls, rather than spending time, energy and a Supreme Court decision preventing them,” he noted.

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He also suggested Americans ought to adopt the speedy timeline of Australian elections, which last a mercifully brief four weeks and yet still manage to provide enough scandals, pratfalls and “human gaffe-alanches” to keep late-night TV writers in business.

Oliver found that the island nation has its own Rick Perry (parliamentary candidate Jaymes Diaz, who in an interview that has since gone viral, was unable to articulate all but one of the points in his six-point plan to stem illegal immigration by boat) and its own Anthony Weiner (married MP Peter Dowling, who was caught sexting a picture of his penis in a glass of red wine).

But perhaps most delightful of all for Oliver, Australia even has its very own “right-wing woman thrust into the national political spotlight she’s not only unprepared for but at times seems to barely comprehend” – a.k.a. its very own Sarah Palin.

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The country’s “pure, uncut” version of the gaffe-prone former Alaska governor comes in the form of Stephanie Banister, a parliamentary candidate who recently made headlines for mistakenly asserting that Islam is a country, that “haram” is the holy book read by Muslims rather than a term referring to sinful behavior, and that kosher food is acceptable because Jews “follow Jesus Christ.”

“Australia, you truly are a nation of criminals,” Oliver said, “because with that magnificent sound bite, you just stole my heart.”


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