May 20, 2014

Jon Stewart is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it. On Monday night's Daily Show, Stewart turned to the growing scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department over VA hospitals reportedly manipulating their waiting lists to hide long delays in treating military veterans. The long waits at the VA is one of Stewart's causes, and he let loose on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, President Obama, and everyone in the previous administration for half-heartedly expressing their outrage over various delays while failing to solve this festering problem.

"Here's what disgusts me," Stewart said. "We as a country were able to ship 300,000 troops halfway across the world in just a few months to fight a war that cost us $2 trillion" in under-the-table cash, but "it takes longer than that to get someone hurt in that war needed medical care or reimbursement." Stewart's broader case isn't airtight — is the problem really that politicians and bureaucrats aren't acting like angry feral cats? — but this charge is a really good one with no great answer. --Peter Weber

4:51 a.m. ET

"Anybody here use the internet?" Stephen Colbert asked his audience at Wednesday's Late Show. "Might want to knock that off, because Congress has now voted to allow internet providers to sell your web-browsing history." The audience booed, and Colbert took the longer view. "This is what's wrong with Washington, D.C.," he said. "I guarantee you, there is not one person, not one voter of any political stripe anywhere in America, who asked for this. No one. No one in America stood up at a town hall said, 'Sir, I demand you let somebody else make money off my shameful desires!'"

"I can't believe they're publicly taking the side of big internet cable companies," Colbert said. "Taking the side of a cable company? The only thing less popular would be if they passed a bill allowing traffic jams to call you during dinner to give you gonorrhea." He played a clip of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who wrote the bill, gamely defending it as good for consumer privacy. "I know what's in her internet history," Colbert said: "'How to spout bullshit.'" Along with being able to sell your browser history, the bill makes it so ISPs also no longer have to protect customer information against hackers and thieves.

"At least Congress did something, that's refreshing," Colbert said. After their health-care dumpster fire last week, Republicans are returning with a "Plan B," and President Trump said Wednesday that passing the mysterious new bill will be super easy this time. "When he says stuff like that, it worries me. Just five days ago, just five days ago, the Republican Party exploded in a mist of blood and bone fragments," Colbert said. "He has the memory of a goldfish — maybe that's why he's the exact same color."

The Late Show also dabbled in a little fictional fair-play, imagining what you would find if you purchased the browsing history of congressional Republicans — then releasing it for all to see. (It's SFW). Watch below. Peter Weber

4:08 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert Rickrolled his audience on Wednesday's Late Show, after reminding everyone about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' cut-rate James Bond act, with the added twist that he will never give up his source. "I agree with the Democrats," Colbert said, after doing a credible Rick Astley dance. "He really should Rick-cuse himself."

Then he got down to the business of talking about President Trump, starting with the news that Trump turned down an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' opening day. "I don't know why," Colbert said. "Maybe he's worried his hands are too small to palm a baseball — he'll have to chest-pass it." Colbert noted that every president since Taft (except Jimmy Carter) has thrown the first pitch on opening day. "That means FDR did it," he said. "Let that sink in." Colbert showed a clip of Trump singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," off-key but with spirit, and unkindly suggested it might be "the tape Putin is blackmailing him with."

This, of course, isn't Trump's only claim to being a different kind of president, Colbert said. "Trump won't throw out the first pitch. What else? He won't go to the correspondents' dinner, he won't release his tax returns, he won't put his businesses in a blind trust, he doesn't want to live in D.C. What presidential tradition will Trump abandon next? This Thanksgiving, those turkeys better run."

Colbert ended by noting that Trump attended and gave the keynote speech at a women's empowerment forum on Wednesday, with all the obvious jokes — including an audio-video switcheroo on Trump's speech. "Wow, what an unforeseen technical blunder... that our editing department spent an hour making this afternoon," he joked. "I am so, so sorry." Colbert did show part of Trump's real speech, where the president winkingly suggested that women have larger brains than men. Colbert winked back: "Yeah, women are just so much smarter than men — I don't know why we didn't elect one president!" Watch below. Peter Weber

3:19 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Full Frontal, Samantha Bee introduced viewers to a Georgia Republican legislator who sounds, as she tells it, super creepy and ripe for a primary or general election challenger — because he keeps running unopposed — but she followed it up with an antidote to that tale of political toxicity. "Because Georgia's Democratic and Republican lawmakers also showed us government at its very best," she explained. The protagonists are Georgia state Rep. Scott Holcolmb (D), who convinced his colleagues to unanimously support a bill to address Georgia's rape-kit backlog, and Speaker of the House David Ralston (R), who made stuff happen when the Senate threw up roadblocks. There's also an antagonist, a female one, but what good story doesn't have one? Rape kits are inherent reminders of tragedy, but if you want to put a little good-government glow in your heart, watch the tale Bee spins below. Peter Weber

2:42 a.m. ET

"Last week was supposed to be a triumph for Republicans," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. "After seven long years, our national nightmare of somewhat affordable health coverage would finally be over." But of course the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill that sought to topple ObamaCare, created by House Speaker Paul Ryan and pushed hard by President Trump, crashed and burned on Friday amid Republican acrimony. "So I guess Democrats kind of won," Bee shrugged, "the same way the cops won that car chase at the end of Thelma & Louise."

The president himself tried to sweet-talk and threaten the bill across the finish line. "Trump couldn't sell ObamaCare repeal to a House that voted for it 60 times already?" Bee said. "Closing deals is the one thing President Big Boy Truck was supposed to know how to do!" And she laughed at Trump's claim that Democrats were to blame for not helping, reminding Trump, "It was killed by friendly fire!"

Though maybe "friendly" is the wrong word for the Freedom Caucus, Bee conceded, with some advice: "You can't negotiate with the Freedom Caucus, Mr. President. John Boehner could have told you that, but he's busy these days, sipping Merlot on the beach and counting his zero f—ks. The Tea Party sent the Freedom Caucus to Washington with one mission: To scream 'No' in the president's face, like the demented offspring of a hyena and a banshee. They didn't have a backup program for if you became president. None of us did, including you!"

She poked some fun at Ryan, too, joking that if you listen hard, "you can still hear Paul Ryan sobbing into his Ayn Rand doll. Oh, Raggity Aynd despises your weakness, Paul." And she tried to celebrate that "the stupid repeal-and-replace charade is over" — except Trump, Ryan, and other top Republicans keep insisting it isn't. Bee responded with a second doctored photo of Trump and Ryan as Thelma and Louise: "Sure, go for it guys. Maybe the movie will end differently this time." Watch the occasionally NSFW recap below. Peter Weber

1:58 a.m. ET

A book that is 25 years overdue has finally been returned to the Great Falls Public Library in Montana — along with a $200 peace offering.

A man who checked out Richard Matheson's 1975 book Bid Time Return in 1982 and kept it wrote a letter to the library, saying it had been "bugging" him that he had kept it for so long. He revealed that he had read the "absolutely fascinating" book 25 times, and because it was in bad shape, he had it restored. Bid Time Return is now a collectible, he added, and before Matheson died in 2013, he had him sign the book.

The man, whose name was not shared by the library, admitted that the book had been "wrongfully taken," but wanted the staff to "kindly take into consideration it has been loved and cared for all these years, and know that I am sorry for taking it." The library's director, Kathy Mora, told library trustees she wasn't happy Bid Time Return had been pilfered, the Great Falls Tribune reports, but it was "remarkable" the "effort and funds he put into caring for the book." Catherine Garcia

1:27 a.m. ET

Jack Prince, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, says the secret to his longevity is his love of the piano and desire to constantly improve his playing.

"I think it's very useful for somebody my age to have something that you have to work at, and I do work," he told Good Morning America. Every two weeks, Prince takes private lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and he practices five or six days a week, an hour every time. He's not just practicing for fun — he's also getting ready for a milestone. "I love to perform, and so with a birthday coming up, I'm preparing for my 94th birthday recital," he said. Catherine Garcia

12:44 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

During a meeting last summer in the situation room at the White House, FBI Director James Comey said he was considering writing an op-ed to explain how Russia was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election, people with knowledge of the matter told Newsweek.

Several notable officials were in the room, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Newsweek reports, and White House officials thought it would make more sense to release a message supported by several different intelligence agencies instead of a solo op-ed. The piece would not have mentioned the FBI's investigation, started in July, into possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia, Newsweek reports. That investigation was confirmed earlier this month by Comey.

On October 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement alleging that the Russian government was tampering with the election to disrupt the U.S., months after it was first reported that hackers had gained access to Democratic National Committee emails. Newsweek says that had Comey written his op-ed, it likely would have been sent to The New York Times, and would have included much of the information that was in the intelligence report released January 6 about Russian President Vladimir Putin influencing the presidential election. Catherine Garcia

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