March 17, 2014
Chris Desmond/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Westboro Baptist Church — which is almost universally reviled for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers and celebrities — confirmed that founder and longtime pastor Fred Phelps Sr. has some "health problems" and is in a care facility. Late Saturday, estranged son Nathan Phelps said on Facebook that his father is "on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas."

Nathan Phelps also informed the world outside of the insular church that his father "was ex-communicated from the 'church' back in August of 2013," adding in an email to The Topeka Capital-Journal that after his father was voted out of Westboro Baptist and moved from his residence above the church, he stopped eating and drinking. A second estranged son, Mark Phelps, confirmed the news from brother Nathan.

Westboro spokesman Steve Drain said that Nathan Phelps was "ill informed," denied that Fred Phelps is near death, and said that "we don't owe any talk to you about" internal church matters. Star Trek alumnus and social-media celebrity George Takei urged his 6.4 million Facebook followers to take the high road with Phelps' impending death: Don't "dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding 'God Hates Freds' signs, tempting as it may be." Westboro is most infamous for its "God Hates Fags" signs, and for suggesting that U.S. troops are dying because of America's tolerance for gays and lesbians. Peter Weber

The Daily Pre-Showdown
2:15 a.m. ET

Sometimes at the beginning of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart obliquely brings up some conversation he had with the audience before the show. And now that Stewart's long run is ending, Comedy Central is pulling back the curtain a bit, posting a short highlight reel of Stewart's warm-up banter before the show begins. In the Q&A sessions featured in the video below, Stewart fields questions about his New Jersey game reserve, hummus, and whether he will return to stand-up comedy after he leaves The Daily Show (it sounds like 'yes').

And then somebody asked him about his "worst or funniest mistakes as a rookie on one of your first shows." Stewart started out philosophically, insisting that he never considers any flubs mistakes, but then he told this story:

We did do, my second week of doing a talk show at Paramount, we did a Hitler sketch.... We thought this would be really funny... that Hitler had just been in hiding, and was now coming out to do the talk show circuit. So I just said, "Ladies and gentlemen, unbelievable guest tonight, you know, I can't believe it: Adolf Hitler." And he comes out dressed as Hitler, with the mustache, and he does this [Nazi salute] to the crowd, and you can imagine, the crowd is like, "Booooooo! Boo Hitler! We don't like Hitler!" So we throw to commercial — two seconds later, the stage managers goes, 'There's a phone call for you.' Paramount executives in Los Angeles had been watching it and, like, literally said, "We will cancel you tonight if you don't pull that." [Stewart, Daily Show]

If you've never seen a taping of The Daily Show, this is probably the closest you're going to get, at least in the Jon Stewart era. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:06 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Late Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) filed a "motion to vacate the chair," a parliamentary measure seeking to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). In his motion, Meadows accused Boehner of having "endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making" and using "the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker."

Meadows should know — he was briefly stripped of his chairmanship of a House subcommittee after voting against a measure Boehner backed, being reinstated only after fellow House conservatives caused a ruckus. But he says he isn't sure he will ever try to bring his motion to a vote, intending it more as the "impetus to have a discussion, a family discussion," among House Republicans about "how we can make sure that every voice, every vote matters."

The move is extremely rare but not unprecedented. In March 1910, Rep. George Norris (R-Neb.) tried to oust Speaker Joe Cannon (R-Ill.), but failed after a two-day marathon session that ended with Cannon himself moving to declare his chair vacant and winning the vote when it failed to pass. Cannon was reputedly much more domineering than Boehner, but the failed coup did succeed in greatly curbing his power in the House. As Meadows is surely aware. Peter Weber

last night on late night
12:20 a.m. ET

Harry Potter, the fictional boy wizard, turns 35 on July 31. To wish him an early happy birthday, and scar any Harry Potter fans watching The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon had Simon Pegg on to imagine the mess that would be a 35-year-old inebriated Ron Weasley. "Drunk Ron Weasley" draws pretty heavily from the Dudley Moore school of drunk Britons, but Pegg's "10 points for Gryffindor!" ad-lib is pretty good. Watch the debauchery and shattered childhood dreams below. Peter Weber

election 2016
July 28, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The top 10 Republican presidential candidates, as determined by Fox News polling, will still appear on stage for the prime-time Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland. But thanks to a modification to its rules announced Tuesday evening, Fox News will allow all of the second-tier candidates to participate in the happy hour debate earlier that evening, at 5 p.m. ET. Previously, only candidates polling at 1 percent or greater were allowed in the 5 p.m. debate.

The change in requirements means that you can watch former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina, ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) face off against Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, according to Politico's tally. The nine Republicans competing for air time with Donald Trump from 9 to 11 p.m. are Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.), Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Rand Paul (Ky.)

The "kid's table" debate will also be moderated by lower-profile moderators, Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum. The later one will feature Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace. Peter Weber

Whatever You Say
July 28, 2015
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Mark Cuban — billionaire, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks — has weighed in on the 2016 election, and he's giving two thumbs up to Donald Trump.

According to Cuban, Trump is "probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time," although apparently that has nothing at all to do with Trump's actual politics and everything to do with his bombastic personality.

"I don't care what [Trump's] actual positions are," Cuban clarified. "I don't care if he says the wrong thing. He says what's on his mind. He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more important than anything any candidate has done in years."

More important than anything? Okay, if you say so!  Jeva Lange

July 28, 2015
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The NFL issued a 20-page statement Tuesday announcing that it would uphold the four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after he was found "at least generally aware" of team employees tampering with game balls during the 2015 playoffs. The NFL originally suspended the star signal-caller back in May after a league-commissioned report found "credible evidence" that he was involved in the scheme.

The NFL said its decision was based in part on the fact that Brady destroyed a cell phone he used the week of the Patriots' January 18 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, The New York Times reports, during which it is alleged members of New England's staff deliberately deflated Patriots footballs to make them easier to grip. The cell phone apparently contained potentially incriminating evidence in the form of texts between Patriots staff members that seem to suggest Brady was aware of team employees adjusting the air pressure in footballs. Brady has consistently denied knowledge of tampering, and appealed his original suspension in June, which set the stage for the league's ruling Tuesday. Kimberly Alters

This just in
July 28, 2015
Matthew Busch/Getty Images

Donald Trump's personal aide Michael Cohen claimed he was speaking during a moment of "shock and anger" when he told a Daily Beast reporter that "You cannot rape your spouse." Cohen made the comment while defending Trump against a Daily Beast exposé, which claimed that Trump's ex-wife Ivana had used the word "rape" to describe an incident that occurred between the couple while they were still married.

"Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me," Cohen said in a statement. "In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment — which I do not believe — and which I apologize for entirely."

Ivana Trump has since added that The Daily Beast's story is "totally without merit," and that her comments were made during a time of "very high tension." Jeva Lange

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