WATCH: John Oliver dissects the GOP's civil war over the NSA leaks

The Daily Show stand-in finds that conservatives can't agree on whether we should "freak out" or "calm down"

John Oliver
(Image credit: Daily Show)

On Tuesday, Daily Show summer host John Oliver continued his "Good news! You're not paranoid" coverage of the NSA data-mining revelations. After succinctly recapping the controversy, Oliver tees up the theme of the night: Republicans are being torn apart over the NSA leaks.

Exhibit A is actually a sop to Jon Stewart fans: He pokes fun at Fox News' Bill O'Reilly over O'Reilly's example of how the NSA might abuse its powers — it involves prostitution and time machines. The meat of the analysis, though, is about the battle between the GOP legislators backing the NSA's newly revealed surveillance authority and those opposing it.

Or, as Oliver puts it: Team Everybody Calm Down and Team Everybody Freak Out.

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The leader of the first group is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the leader of the second is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and neither is a particularly compelling spokesman for his side, Oliver says. Paul, who's vowing to take his opposition all the way to the Supreme Court, doesn't seem to respect the court much, and McCain insists we wouldn't really be having this discussion on the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

McCain's framework is a terrible way to make decisions, Oliver points out. Why? He poses this example: "Huh, what would I have for dinner on Sept. 12? You know what, I'll probably just skip it and vomit out of fear instead."

Up to this point, Oliver is in top form — Jon Stewart, watch your back. But then he pokes fun at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)... in a cringe-worthy southern accent. Still, his point about Graham is a classic Daily Show mix of wit, archival footage, and news synthesis, and it tees up a strong final bit about the Second Amendment.

Following his analysis of the GOP's civil war over the NSA leaks, Oliver turns the show over to Al Madrigal and a brutal interview segment on a different kind of leak controversy: The agricultural industry's attempts to criminalize whistle-blowing by undercover activists documenting animal cruelty.

While Oliver highlights the disagreements between actual conservatives over the NSA scandals, faux Comedy Central conservative pundit Stephen Colbert has only one complaint: "It's happening on President Obama's watch, and it's earning him high praise from conservatives." Watch:

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