Comedian Jon Stewart compared the United States Senate to an “assisted living facility” on Sunday, highlighting the alarming way in which Congress functions behind closed doors.
Stewart has spent an extensive amount of time on Capitol Hill advocating for veterans and 9/11 first responders; thus he has seen personally how the legislative process works.
What did Stewart say?
While lawmakers get the accolades and spotlight, Stewart told CNN host Fareed Zakaria that lawmakers are like “wind-up dolls” whose staffers are responsible for keeping Congress functional.
“All those different things doing in Washington over these past few years gave me a great understanding of how things actually get done,” he began.
“Our country is held together by hundreds of really talented legislative aides. Their bosses, many times, are wind-up dolls who really don’t know, I mean, half of it,” Stewart added. “If you go down there — especially the Senate is like an assisted-living facility.
“It’s held together by these legislative aides that are relentlessly trying to do the right thing, and by the thousands of grassroots activists that are trying to get access and they’re blocked by a moat of lobbyists and moneyed interests that prevent the people in [Congress] from doing the work that best benefits all the people outside of that building. And that’s the process,” he explained.
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Interestingly, when Zakaria seemingly tried to get Stewart to criticize Republican aides — suggesting that working with Republicans is more difficult than Democrats — Stewart did not take the bait.
“They’re honest. Look, if you can find honest brokers down there, you can work with them,” Stewart said. “What I’m saying is that force field around it is made up of not honest brokers. It’s moneyed interests. It’s lobbyists.”
When Zakaria clarified whether that meant Stewart believed he could work with “very conservative Republicans,” Stewart was unequivocal.
“Of course. People of good faith,” he said. “Now there were huge disagreements about certain things, but when you found someone of good faith, you could always get something done.”
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