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Watch The Daily Show laugh at the EPA's lazy CIA wannabe
The sad tale of John Beale is so amazing, says Jon Stewart, that you almost can't hate the lying cheat. John Oliver agrees, hook and sinker.
 

The saga of John Beale is so incredible that Jon Stewart devotes half of Wednesday night's Daily Show to slowly unpacking it. Beale, a retired senior climate change expert at the Environmental Protection Agency and its highest-paid employee, just admitted to defrauding the government of almost $1 million. How did he do this? Mostly by getting out of years of work by claiming to be an undercover CIA operative.

Stewart was so impressed with this brazen act of fraud he kissed his hands and doffed his (imaginary) cap to Beale. The next round of details made Stewart rethink his admiration — yes, Beale lied to his boss about being a spy to get out of work, but then he used his time off to read books and ride his bike around his Northern Virginia home. Not only is Beale a pathological liar, Stewart said, he's "boring as f—k."

Luckily, the story got even stranger, involving fake malaria contracted during a nonexistent tour of duty in Vietnam, first-class plane tickets due to a trumped-up bad back, and retention bonuses Beale was paid to stay at the job he didn't show up for. But what elevates the tale "from the ridiculous to the sublime," Stewart said, is how Beale treated his friend and former EPA colleague, Robert Brenner, as revealed in hilarious congressional testimony.

Brenner wasn't the only one taken in by Beale. Stewart turned to Senior Washington Correspondent John Oliver to discuss the Beale case, but, well, Beale got to him first. Oliver took the joke to some unexpected, vaguely uncomfortable places.

In the middle segment, Stewart took a look at the surveillance state — with a twist. This time, the spying was allegedly done by Ikea, and the state was France. Stewart got in a few French jokes and had ample fun with Swedish names. Things got strange at the end, when he ordered an Ikea product and the Swedes started watching....

Stewart's guests need no introduction, since they've been everywhere on your TV set for the past month. Without comment, here's Stewart v. the cast of Anchorman 2:

 
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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