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Watch The Daily Show ask a real hostage negotiator how to handle the GOP
Jason Jones takes the shutdown/debt ceiling hostage-taking metaphor seriously, and it's pretty great television

Jon Stewart made some waves on Monday night by aggressively questioning Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the rocky rollout of ObamaCare — even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took notice:

On Tuesday night's Daily Show, Stewart returned the favor by digging up video evidence that the government shutdown happened because Boehner reneged on a deal he made with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the summer. This is proof positive, Stewart said, that Republicans are responsible for the shutdown, despite "the party of personal responsibility" trying to shift the blame.

Look, an exasperated Stewart told the GOP, "you think ObamaCare's a big enough threat to this country that you need to shut down the government over it? Fine. Own it. Don't fart and point at the dog." His next story, about Syria, kind of ends up being about the government shutdown, too, with an assist from Jessica Williams:

The best part of the show (watch at the top) is Jason Jones' attempt to get to the bottom of the whole shutdown thing with a Republican strategist named Noelle Nikpour. It didn't go well. Nikpour argued that in order to get the government back up and running, President Obama must agree to defund ObamaCare. Jones pointed out that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and when Nikpour argued that it's unconstitutional, Jones threw up his hands and stopped the interview.

Instead of leaving it there — a mildly amusing encapsulation of why we're in this shutdown — Jones turned to former FBI hostage negotiator Christopher Voss. Voss walked Jones through why people take hostages — they feel that they've run out of options, that they've become marginalized, and that people should be following their lead but aren't — leading Jones to confess that he thought talking to an actual hostage negotiator "would be kind of funny" but "it's kind of incredible how this metaphor is lining up."

Voss moved on. "Even batshit insane has its own rules," he explained, and to talk with hostage-takers you figure out what those rules are "and then you navigate within those rules." So Voss sent Jones back in to talk with Nikpour, talking him through the negotiation over an earpiece. Following Voss' advice, Jones tried to empathize and not be condescending — and failed. Like many of the subjects of these interviews, Nikpour is a pretty good sport, but let's just say the hostage doesn't emerge unscathed.

Together, Nikpour and Jones make a pretty convincing case that the GOP will win this battle, no matter what happens. Watch above.

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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