Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Late night hosts seek clarity, find dark humor in the Democrats' legislative hostage mess

"We may be approximately 24 hours from the United States government shutting down, and that's not even the bad news," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "The U.S. government is also rapidly approaching the debt ceiling," which, if it isn't raised by mid-October, will unleash "financial Armageddon," he said. That would be "bad news — and even worse timing, because America has already scheduled a plague Armageddon, a climate Armageddon, and a democracy Armageddon."

Worse still, Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling and Senate Republicans are blocking them, "so this is a totally avoidable crisis," Colbert said. "It would be like knowing there was a lifesaving medicine available during a pandemic, and not taking it. Wait, wait! Maybe we should inject the budget with horse paste." Democrats also have to pass their $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package the bipartisan infrastructure bill, "and here's the problem — and it's two problems," he said: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are "holding up the entire government but they won't tell anyone what they want."

Yes, "two centrist Democrats are holding Joe Biden's agenda hostage while Republicans threaten to crater the economy as a negotiating tactic," Seth Meyers said at Late Night, throwing in a closer look former President Donald Trump reportedly calling an aide from Air Force One call to defend the size of his penis. "And I know one of those stories is bigger than the other," he added, "but we can do both."

Congress' big to-do list — "prevent a government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling, and pass two huge pieces of legislation," all at the same time — "means there's a lot of stress, a lot of bickering, and most importantly, a lot of drama," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "In fact, there's so much drama, it's the perfect story to cover in our new segment, 'Keeping Up With the Congressians.'" He explained the entire situation in character as a catty gossip purveyor, and illustrated Manchin's contribution with a new, very frustrating board game.

A new study on climate disasters "paints a very bleak picture of the future of our planet — but fear not, because during these difficult times our lawmakers are hard at work in Washington, tackling the issues that matter most," Jimmy Kimmel deadpanned on Kimmel Live, showing a certain Texas senator's passionate plea to Free Britney: "Since when is Ted Cruz in favor of women making their own decisions? That's a new one."