After Jon Stewart recently gave an emotional testimony before a House Judiciary Committee to ask Congress to extend the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that the former late night host was “bent out of shape” about nothing. Stewart responded to that statement on The Late Show, taking the opportunity to rail against McConnell for not caring enough about the victims of 9/11.
“No, no, Mitch McConnell, I am not bent out of shape; I’m in fine shape,” Stewart shouts into the camera after being introduced by host Stephen Colbert. “Well, I am out of shape. I am out of shape. But not because of you. I’m actually really more pizza crust than man, really, at this point. But I’m not bent out of shape. I’m fine. I’m bent out of shape for them! These are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror. And they’re currently still suffering and dying and in terrible need. You would think that that would be enough to get Congress’ attention. But apparently it’s not.”
Colbert then played a clip of McConnell’s Fox News appearance, in which the senator said that there were so few members of Congress in the House Judiciary Committee meeting because they were probably just busy with other work. “It sounds to me like he’s looking for some way to take offense,” McConnell said of Stewart.
After the Late Show audience boos, Stewart replies, “I feel like an asshole. I’m so sorry. You know what Stephen, now I feel stupid. This is a huge misunderstanding. I didn’t know that they were busy.” He adds, “I didn’t mean to interrupt them with their jobs!”
“Honestly, Mitch McConnell, you really want to go with that, we’ll get to it when we get to it argument for the heroes of 9/11?” he continues. “I know that your species isn’t known for moving quickly. But damn, Senator, you’re not good at this argument thing. 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.”
Stewart concludes by pleading, “If you want to know why we’re bent out of shape, meet with them tomorrow, and don’t make them beg for it. You could pass this thing as a stand-alone bill tomorrow.”
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund offers compensation to 9/11 survivors and first responders who filed claims relating to various health problems they have experienced as a result of the attacks, and is set to expire at the end of 2020. Stewart wants the fund to be extended through 2090 so that no one affected by 9/11 will “have to come down, hat in hand, [and] beg for this kind of thing again.”
Speaking before Congress, Stewart passionately said, “As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process of what getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak — to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a shame on this institution.”