In Jason Jones' first report from "Sochi-ish" (Moscow) earlier this week, he found that Muscovites are pretty similar to Americans in tastes and disregard for the Soviet era. On Wednesday night's Daily Show, Jones found a fairly glaring difference: Unlike in most large U.S. urban areas, Moscow residents are apparently overwhelmingly opposed to gay rights.
It starts near the top. Jones somehow landed an on-camera interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin's longtime spokesman, Sergey Markov. Jones wanted to see how a "Russian spin doctor" would handle the controversy surrounding the recent Russian law outlawing "gay propaganda." The answer: Reluctantly. "I'm tired from this issue," Markov said, in wonderfully half-broken English, before diving in.
The issue isn't gay rights, Markov argued: "You are absolutely free to make sex with this table," he told Jones, but nobody will argue that it's normal. Men having sex with women is normal, he added, but men having sex with men isn't. "Everybody knows this, including gays."
After listening to the "nut job" Markov, Jones said in his voiceover, "I only had one thought: Boy, do I owe Rick Santorum an apology." The Republican former senator has said "pretty much every homophobic thing imaginable," Jones elaborated, but "he's never had the gall to say gay people agreed with him."
Jones thought he'd find disagreement with Markov's (and Putin's) views on gay rights on the streets of Moscow. Nope. Even the young anti-government protesters he found hated gay people. Next, he sat down with a group of gay Muscovites, who rejected his suggestion they should just move to America. Finally, after another round of disagreeing with Markov, Jones ended the segment with "the one woman I met who was out there protesting these oppressive Russian laws."
She seems to be a lovely woman — and interested enough in American culture to have watched (and taken inspiration from) the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff Angel — and Jones ended the segment with the "awwww"-producing line: "This is one of those points where I don't have any irony, I just kind of want to give you a hug."
Earlier in Wednesday's show, Jon Stewart gave us a Sochi Olympics update — hopefully you're not getting your Olympics news from The Daily Show — including the medal count: Norway, the Netherlands, and Canada are the top winners. The success of those nations, he added, shows that "the Winter Games are really the only games that to do well, you have to look exactly like the surface you're competing on." (White. Get it?) At the end, after an extended riff on Putin turning lesbians straight, even Stewart admitted he had no idea what kind of accent he'd just been imitating:
Stewart ended his non-intervew portion of the show with a jaundiced look at President Obama's designated ambassadors — well, at least the ones who raised lots of money for Obama's 2012 campaign. Stewart started out with his recent interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who'd suggested that Washington Democrats weren't being corrupted by money.
To prove Pelosi wrong about Democratic corruption, Stewart ran through a trio of Obama bundler-turned-ambassador-designates who acknowledged during their Senate testimony that they'd never even been to the country they'd been nominated to serve in.
This "diplomat buyers club" seems like a raw deal, though: As Stewart pointed out, the nominee to Iceland raised more than three times as much money ($1.6 million) as the appointee to Argentina ($500,000): "Why would I go to the home of the tango, the world's best beef, and the coolest pope, when I could hang out with Björk and have a plate or rotten shark meat." Stewart ended the show by suggesting Obama prove he's not corrupt by exiling Sean Hannity to the Russian ambassadorship. Watch: