On Thursday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart put Republicans and their Fox News proxies over a barrel for opposing the extension of federal unemployment benefits. As heartless as the politicians and pundits sound in griping about the "takers" and "mooches" and "subsidized freeloaders" — and as weird as the Fox & Friends graphics are — the right does have a point, Stewart conceded: The benefits were supposed to be temporary, and they aren't being offset by other cuts.
"I'm not certain that making sure these programs are paid for and finite is the worst idea," Stewart said, but Republicans have no business making that argument, given their vehement opposition to ending the temporary, not-paid-for Bush tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. Roll clips — and Stewart's "Cecil the Turtle" impersonation of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The other conservative argument, Stewart said, is that the unemployed shouldn't get benefits because some number of recipients commit fraud or otherwise use their $256 in weekly benefits to sit on the couch rather than look for work. Again, Stewart added, this "moral hazard" argument would carry more weight if Republicans extended the same logic to the Wall Street bankers who definitely committed fraud. But no, the same Fox News talking heads who say nobody should get jobless benefits because of a few fraudsters argued vociferously against punishing the financial industry because of a "few bad apples."
"I think I'm beginning to get it," Stewart said. "If it's a policy that benefits the rich, then it doesn't have to be paid for, should last forever, and is good for America. But if it benefits the poor, we can't afford it, we should end it as soon as possible, and it will destroy our nation from within."
Maybe Republicans think that giving money to people without any will corrupt them, Stewart added, but funneling cash to millionaires is fine because they already have an immunity to money. It's an interesting argument.
Next, Stewart returned to the scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Christie gave a marathon press conference Thursday in which he repeatedly apologized for his aides' ploy to snarl traffic in Fort Lee, took ultimate responsibility, disavowed all previous knowledge of the plot, and fired an aide responsible for the scandal.
The part of the press conference that tickled Stewart the most was when Christie said that the petty vindictiveness displayed by his aides goes against the "tone" he's worked to set over the last four years. Stewart pulled out a pitch pipe and rolled some clips of Christie yelling at and belittling constituents during his time in office. He finally lands on the right tone: "F-U sharp." Watch: