The House is voting on a two-year budget deal Thursday, which — if approved — will be the first budget passed by Congress since 2009. You may remember the series of fiscal crises and standoffs and government shutdowns that have ensued in the intervening four years. The Daily Show sure does, and on Wednesday night Jon Stewart and his crew couldn't decide how to react to the potential return to normal budgetary order. They used a lot of movie references.
Stewart started out the show choking over the word "deal," playing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," deciding the budget compromise is actually closer to the more melancholy Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah," and finally declaring that it is what it is: A compromise. Nobody gets what they want, but both sides get just enough. He trotted out sexual analogies, because this is The Daily Show.
The $1.012 trillion deal is halfway between the budget numbers Senate Democrats and House Republicans had agreed to. This is how four years of budgetary trench warfare ends? Stewart asked incredulously: "Why don't we split the difference?"
Senior political correspondent John Oliver saw things a little differently, putting the "miraculous" budget compromise up there with the Civil Rights Act. To illustrate how far each side had to budge to get this modest compromise, Oliver read from profanity-laden (fake) transcripts of the budget meetings between Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The best part of this hilarious segment is when Oliver and Stewart get into a shouting match over the meaning of the movie E.T.
If Jon Stewart was cautiously optimistic about the budge deal and John Oliver ecstatic, the rest of the Daily Show correspondents — shown sitting around a conference table — looked relieved to not have to cover fiscal showdowns again for a while. Well, all except for Jason Jones, who went for instant nostalgia.
To find a silver lining in the looming disaster of normal, boring Washington deal-making, Jones turned to the action-film genre, with an assist from NBC's Chuck Todd and veteran movie cop Reginald VelJohnson. Here, without further ado, Budget Battle: The Movie:
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