On Thursday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart turned his sardonic gaze on the quirky world of state legislatures. With Washington in gridlock, the states are where most of the interesting legislative experimentation is going on in America. Unfortunately, Stewart said, not all boundary-pushing is good. And in these cases, he added, the states are "meth labs of democracy."
What proposed laws are so terrible to earn comparison with Walter White's teeth-melting illicit trade? Stewart first turned to Kansas, where State Rep. Gail Finney (D) introduced a bill to allow parents to spank their children harder — and allow others to administer (literally) bruising corporal punishment, too. If you don't think this is a bad idea, Stewart will try to persuade you otherwise. If you're still not convinced, his bit about former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's parenting is pretty amusing. (Real-life spoiler: The bill died in committee.)
The rest of the bills are championed by Republicans. In Missouri, State Rep. Rick Brattin (R) wants parents to be able to opt out of having their children taught evolution. On the local news, a supporter of the bill argued that evolution shouldn't be taught in school because it isn't taught in the bible — an easily mocked point (from, to be fair, a "man on the street") that Stewart dutifully mocked: "Alright, kids, welcome to wood shop. Once again, we will be building an ark."
Next up: Kansas (again). This time, the bill in question would allow public and private employees to refuse to serve same-sex couples if it offends their religious beliefs. Stewart's main joke here was about Business Insider reporter Josh Barro's suggestion that the local baker at a national supermarket chain could refuse to make a wedding cake for gay couples — after waiting so long to get married, Stewart said, no gay couple would "just swing by the Safeway and pick up an Entenmann's."
Not that it matters, Stewart noted, because the Kansas State Senate killed the bill. That's in Kansas. But the Arizona State Senate just approved a similar bill. And really, that's the only one of these bills likely to make it into law (the gay segregation bill passed the Arizona House Thursday evening and now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer's [R] desk).
After poking fun at Kansas and Arizona, Stewart turned to a bunch of food-related stories, told through the prism of his (nonexistent) ritual of a mid-show snack. Don't watch this part if you are unwilling to give up your Subway sandwiches, Kraft Singles, or Hot Pockets. Do watch it if you want to see Stewart attempt a Philadelphia accent:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Affirmative action is doomed. Here's what progressives should do about it.
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Why conservatives see rural America as the 'real' America
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- Why you're probably drinking your beer all wrong
Subscribe to the Week