“I’m sorry sir, are you lost?” Trevor Noah asked a grey-bearded man who seemed to somehow manage to slip past security and onto the set of The Daily Show last night.
Said intruder happened to be Jon Stewart, who had to assure Noah that he had not come to take the show back, but rather that he had an issue he cares deeply about but had a sudden realization that he no longer has a show, and thus merely wanted to borrow Noah’s for a bit to talk about it. Turns out, Stewart, who came in relatively early on in the episode, stayed on for the rest of the show.
Stewart had returned to discuss the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which Congress passed in 2010, funding health care for emergency workers who’d fallen ill after having responding to the 9/11 attacks. The issue is currently pressing because the act was actually only funded for five years — it began to expire in September of this year and will be completely null by October 2016 if it doesn’t get renewed. The reason such a fast expiration had been placed on the act was to prevent fraud and to prove that there is a link between breathing the air following the attacks and major health complications. However, Stewart emphasizes that there’s been no fraud, and such a link was indeed traced.
With this information, Noah plays naive and asks, “So there’s no reason not to renew it permanently?”
Stewart responds, “You’re not from around here, are?” He explains that despite the government’s reasons for trepidation surrounding the act being quashed, they still didn’t renew the act.
Noah again gives Congress too much credit, presuming the best after Stewart says that first responders have had to travel to Congress to plead for help for the at-times fatal pulmonary problems they now endure. Noah — or the momentarily naive character Noah is playing — assumes Congress would have at least met these pleas with a renewal. Stewart’s response:
The only conclusion I can draw is that the people of Congress are not as good a people as the people who are first responders.
Last week, Stewart explains, he accompanied first responders to Washington, D.C., to, as a video clip soon explains, “see if shame works” — literally going from door to door to Senators’ (Rand Paul’s, Rob Portman’s, Ron Johnson’s) offices to speak to them about the bill they haven’t supported. They spent most of their time waiting around — which wouldn’t deter Stewart, because, as he says, he doesn’t “have a life anymore.” He even gathers a group of children to represent Senate, explains the issue to them using monster analogies, and asks if they’d help the people who scared away the monsters for them.
Stewart explains that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are the keys to getting this done, and that McConnell has made it particularly difficult. “I believe when push comes to shove Paul Ryan’s going to do the right thing, because ultimately he’s still human. But then there’s…Mitch McConnell,” he says.
Noah reminds Stewart that back in 2010, the show brought on a panel of four first responders who helped get the act past — and suggests they bring the panel back. Yet only one member joins them: Kenny Specht, who explains why 75% of the panel is missing. “Two of the people have illnesses and obviously by law I can’t comment on how sick they are.” The other member passed away following the last show.
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