The Night Shift: Jon Stewart's Seamless, Searing Takedown of Congressional 9/11 Hypocrisy

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It’s always been a touchy subject on The Daily Show – the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which redefined the battlefield of American politics. Following his emotional return to the airwaves in 2001, Stewart seemed somewhat hesitant about discussing the attacks. In the nine years since, he’s unloaded freely on the Bush administration’s rush to war and offered the occasional middle finger to the Taliban, but nothing could have prepared loyal fans for the specific and searing Sept. 11 commentary unleashed Monday evening by Stewart and co. Video after the jump.

After briefly alluding last Thursday to Congress’ most recent 9/11 vote (saying that Congress was putting “bros before heroes”), Stewart devoted an entire segment of his Monday show to addressing the fate of the so-called 9/11 Health Bill – a piece of legislation that would have guaranteed at least eight years of robust funding for existing health programs for Sept. 11 responders. Senate Republicans blocked action on the $3 billion bill last week, fulfilling a promise to stall any and all legislation until the expiring “Bush tax cuts” were extended.

Stewart ridiculed both the process and the players. Republicans, he said, had already won their tax cut battle by the time they stymied the 9/11 Health Bill, rendering the protest more than a little illogical. And in a searing montage that linked congressional commentary from 2003 and 2005 to the stark reality of last week’s procedural vote, Stewart depicted the same Senators who once championed 9/11 first responders as putting their health care funding into serious jeopardy last week.

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In underscoring the disconnect between these two sentiments – adulation for the heroes in the Bush era, but the subsequent denial of their health care benefits in the Obama era – Stewart arrived at a rather blistering conclusion: “Guess what, Republicans? Your ‘We’re the only party who understands 9/11 and its repercussions’ monopoly ends, now.” Incensed by the politicization of the tragedy, at least one New Yorker has now apparently made it his mission to call out the leaders failing all those who heeded the call of duty at Ground Zero.

It will now be interesting to see if the theme resurfaces on The Daily Show prior to the holiday break, and what tone Stewart strikes in the future as the legacy of Sept. 11 continues to shape a new decade.