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instant classics
July 15, 2014

Call it the most educational song of the summer. Weird Al's parody of Robin Thicke's 2013 smash hit "Blurred Lines" thankfully does not feature scantily clad models or questionable come-ons. Instead, "Word Crimes" is an entertaining romp through some of the most popular and egregious grammatical errors in the English language. "Ok now here's the deal / I'll try to educate ya / Gonna familiarize you with the nomenclature," Al sings before launching into an array of important facts, including how to correctly use the word "literally" and the difference between "who" and "whom."

Much has been said about Weird Al's place in comedy in the age of YouTube parodies, but this song once again proves his good-natured silliness will always slot him a place in popular culture. His album, Mandatory Fun, is out now, and you can watch his Pharrell-parodying video for "Tacky" here. --Samantha Rollins

The Daily Showdown
5:26 a.m. ET

On Monday night, 14 Republican presidential candidates gathered together on a New Hampshire stage for their first debate. On Tuesday's Daily Show, almost retired Jon Stewart barely had time to mock them. (Don't worry, he set aside a few minutes, with Sen. Ted Cruz getting the brunt.) "I shouldn't complain about the Republican race being such a circus," Stewart said. "At least it's fun to watch. The Democratic primary is basically one joyless Bataan death march to a Hillary Clinton nomination."

And then the rumor that Vice President Joe Biden is thinking of entering the Democratic race — and pundits touting Biden's proclivity for gaffes as a political plus. "Really?" Stewart asked, skepticism mixing with glee. "So the reason loose-lips McGee f—ed up his 2008 presidential run is now the reason he's a viable candidate? You know, not just blurting shit out, that's a pre-Trump presidential quality. Post-Trump, it's all about saying the crazy." Hasan Minhaj got in on the fun, "reporting" from "Clinton campaign headquarters" that Clinton is furiously engaging in "gaffe prep" to fend off the Biden challenge. If you like to laugh and don't mind mild vulgarity, watch below. Peter Weber

Counterpoint
4:44 a.m. ET
Andy Loveridge/AP

One of the best parts of The Onion, and a staple of news satire, is the point/counterpoint format. In Wednesday's New York Times, op-ed contributor Goodwell Nzou provides a real-life counterpoint to the prevailing U.S. outrage of the killing of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion allegedly killed by a Minneapolis dentist.

When he read about Cecil's demise, "the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine," writes Nzou, who is working toward a PhD in molecular and cellular biosciences at Wake Forest. And when he found out that the dentist is being treated as the villain, "I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I'd experienced during my five years studying in the United States." He continues:

Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being "beloved" or a "local favorite" was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from The Lion King? In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror. [Nzou, New York Times]

Nzou goes on to wonder why "Americans care more about African animals than about African people," then puts Cecil's death in a bit of context: "Americans who can't find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation's demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president's most recent birthday banquet." Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:04 a.m. ET

The Daily Show is probably best known for Jon Stewart skewering conservatives, cable news, and Arby's, but some of its greatest segments don't have Stewart in them at all. Over the years, Daily Show correspondents have delivered field pieces from as far away as India and as close as midtown Manhattan, and some of the most memorable interviews involve people saying really crazy things on camera. The most-asked question of Stewart in his recent sadistic Q&A, he said on Tuesday's show, is "are the people in the field pieces real?"

Senior Correspondent Correspondent Jessica Williams came on to answer that: "They are real, and they do know who we are, and they don't care because we bring a camera with us.... Jon, it's like Girls Gone Wild, except they flash us their controversial ideas." To prove her point, Williams went and re-interviewed two previous subjects who, as she said, are "still returning our calls." One man, gun rights advocate Noel Flasterstein, said enthusiastically that he still likes to watch his interview with friends, and the doubling-down by Harlem pastor James David Manning — with a new, unpalatable flavor of crazy thrown in — has to be seen to believed. You can watch below. Peter Weber

last night on late night
3:01 a.m. ET

"Somebody's lying," said Larry Wilmore on Tuesday's Nightly Show, in a segment dedicated to the effort to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. The most recent Republican attempt to defund the women's health organization was spurred by videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they deal with tissue from aborted fetuses — Planned Parenthood says it makes no profit from donating the tissue for research, while the group that secretly filmed and edited the videos says the officials are admitting they do sell the tissue.

In context, Wilmore said, it seems clear that the Center for Medical Progress is the one lying, and "context really matters when it comes to Planned Parenthood videos, just like context matters for that text you sent last night." There's no context allowed on Fox News or in GOP talking points, so "that's why I'm calling this Planned Parenthood attack for what it really is: It's a pap smear campaign," he said. "That's exactly what it is. And in a pap smear campaign, people don't care about facts." The segment ends with an absurdist enactment of what it would look like if the GOP succeeds in its ongoing effort, and you can watch it all below. Peter Weber

Clinton Emails
2:19 a.m. ET
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The FBI has started looking into the server that Hillary Clinton used for email while she was secretary of state, focusing on the security of sensitive information once housed on the server, at her and Bill Clinton's New York home, and now held on a thumb drive by Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, The Washington Post reports. In the past week, the FBI has also contacted Platte River Networks, an IT firm the Clintons hired to help manage the server in 2013, after Hurricane Sandy shut it down for a period. The investigation is preliminary, and the FBI isn't targeting Clinton or accusing her of any wrongdoing, two officials tell The Post.

"The government is seeking assurance about the storage of those materials," Kendall told the newspaper. "We are actively cooperating." The Justice Department and Platte River Networks declined to comment. You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

who needs 21 bedrooms?
2:15 a.m. ET

What has 21 bedrooms, nine kitchens, and keeps bankrupting people? That would be the Farmington, Connecticut, home that rapper 50 Cent says costs $72,000 a month to maintain and has previously been owned by Mike Tyson and a millionaire convicted of bankruptcy fraud.

On Monday, 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) filed documents in a Connecticut bankruptcy court showing how much he spends a month on the enormous home, which sits on 17 acres and boasts 52 rooms, including a casino. Jackson purchased the house from Tyson’s ex-wife, who ended up with the property as part of a divorce settlement after Tyson lost his millions, MarketWatch reports. Jackson bought the home for $4.1 million, and part of the $72,000 he spends a month goes to gardening ($5,000) and household supplies ($1,500).

The Boston Globe says the estate has a rather sordid history when it comes to the finances of its owners. It was built in 1985 for Benjamin Sisti, founder of commercial real estate brokerage firm Colonial Realty. Sisti, who paid $2.3 million for the home, eventually wound up in prison for bankruptcy fraud. The property went into foreclosure, and was bought by an import-export businessman named Romas Marsinkiavitchous for $2.7 million. He sold it to Tyson in 1996 for $2.8 million, reportedly while facing bankruptcy himself.

Best wishes to whoever winds up with the house next. Catherine Garcia

yo quiero meth
1:35 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

If you like your Chalupas with a side of methamphetamine, well, you're out of luck.

Police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have arrested two men after the remnants of a meth lab were discovered inside a Taco Bell. The men were found by officers outside the restaurant early on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports, and one said he was a Taco Bell employee. Police entered the restaurant and found the remnants in a utility area. Christopher Adam Matous, 31, and Kent Jerome Duby, 56, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

In a statement, Taco Bell said the employee has been fired, and the restaurant will be fully sanitized before reopening. Catherine Garcia

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