On Tuesday, the Senate reached a last-minute deal to avoid employing the frightening-sounding "nuclear option" as a way of reining in the use of the filibuster to block President Obama's cabinet nominees. If you're still reading, good. Washington observers explain that this resolution is a really big deal. John Oliver, like The Week's Marc Ambinder, is not impressed with the filibuster standoff.
But The Daily Show's summer host is impressed with the Senate's self-importance, the boringness of its leaders, and the ease with which the filibuster has been abused by the minority party. The "nuclear option" sounds impressive, says Oliver, until you realize it's just a change in parliamentary rules. And the Senate didn't even pull the trigger.
Still, Oliver's job is to make the news interesting and fun, and he tries his best. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) got into what passes for verbal fisticuffs on the Senate floor during the standoff, and Oliver and his team fashion that into a Mortal Kombat-like death match.
If Oliver is a bit jaded by the filibuster fight, senior congressional correspondent Jason Jones is disgusted. The Senate shouldn't have just deployed the "nuclear option" for cabinet nominees, he says. They should get rid of the filibuster completely. Barring that, from now on, if senators want to filibuster a bill, they should do it like "real men, like Wendy Davis" in Texas, he says. Oliver points out that unlike Davis, who stood for 12 hours to filibuster an abortion bill, the Senate is full of old men. Jones isn't impressed, and he offers a visual tip for avoiding bathroom breaks.
To reward us for sitting through the filibuster segments, Oliver gives us his impatient, boastful musings on the now-overdue royal baby — grandchild of England's Queen Elizabeth II and child of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Or, as Oliver calls the segment: "On Her Majesty's Secret Cervix." There is, um, a diaper involved:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- The Warren Buffett formula: How you can get smarter
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
- Today in history: The birth of the federal income tax
- The contentious policy at the heart of Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with the government
Subscribe to the Week