Jon Stewart was not about to let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell get the last word.
After the former Daily Show host called out McConnell on Fox News Sunday for consistently waiting until the “very last minute” to offer relief to 9/11 first responders—and only doing so “under intense lobbying and public shaming”—the Senate majority leader went on Fox & Friends on Monday morning to offer a dismissive response.
“I don’t know why he is all bent out of shape, but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund,” McConnell insisted, adding, “It sounds to me like he is looking for some way to take offense.”
So when Stewart reappeared from under his old friend Stephen Colbert’s desk on The Late Show on Monday night, he had a lot to get off his chest. Asked by Colbert if he was “bent out of shape,” Stewart replied, “No, Mitch McConnell, I am not bent out of shape! I’m in fine shape.” Then he added, “Well, I am out of shape,” before explaining that he is only “bent out of shape” on behalf of the first responders.
As for McConnell’s suggestion that he’s “looking for some way to take offense” after members skipped his hearing, Stewart said, “I feel like an asshole,” sarcastically calling the whole situation a “huge misunderstanding.”
“I didn’t know that they were busy,” he said of Congress. “I didn’t mean to interrupt them… with their jobs!”
“Honestly, Mitch McConnell, you really want to go with the ‘we’ll get to it when we get to it argument’ for the heroes of 9/11?” Stewart asked. “Listen, Senator, I know that your species isn’t known for moving quickly.”
“Would that be a turtle reference, Jon?” Colbert asked, alluding to a classic Daily Show bit.
“But damn, Senator, you’re not good at this argument thing,” Stewart continued. “Basically, we’re saying you love the 9/11 community when they serve your political purposes. But when they’re in urgent need, you slow-walk, you dither, you use it as a political pawn to get other things you want. And you don’t get the job done completely. And your answer to that charge is, ‘Yeah, duh, we’re Congress, that’s how we do.’”
As the camera zoomed in on his face, Stewart spoke directly to McConnell, expressing his last, best hope that the Senate majority leader won’t “jack us around like you’re done in the past.”
“So, if you want to know why the 9/11 community is bent out of shape over these past, let’s call it 18 years,” he said, “meet with them, tomorrow, as soon as possible, and don’t make them beg for it.”
“I beg of you, meet with them tomorrow,” Stewart added. “But you know what? If you’re busy, I get it.”
“Just understand that the next time we have a war or you’re being robbed or your house is on fire and you make that desperate call for help, don’t get bent out of shape if they show up at the last minute, with fewer people than you thought were going to pay attention, and don’t really put it out,” he said. “Just sort of leave it there smoldering for another five years, because that’s how shit’s done around here, Mister. I’m sure they’ll put it out for good when they feel like getting around to it.”
“No offense,” he concluded.