The old saying goes that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but during Tuesday night's edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, the same principle was applied to hypocrisy.
Jon Stewart charged that Senate majority leader Harry Reid has criticized Charles and David Koch more than 140 times this year but said during an interview that people shouldn't “pick on” Sheldon Adelson, a gambling billionaire and supporter of the Nevada Democrat. [See video below.]
The comedian began the segment by stating: “I have to turn to the troubling state of our democracy which, having hit some tough times, … has been left with no choice but to sell its body to the highest bidder.”
He then played a video that was narrated by a female reporter, who said that the Koch brothers are “the industrial magnates currently tied for fourth on Forbes' list" of the 400 richest Americans "with $36 apiece." In 2012, "the Koch brothers' political network raised $400 million to support conservative causes.”
Stewart joked that the brothers didn't actually raise that amount, but instead found it in the couch cushions inside the Koch brothers' "conservative clubhouse."
“For $400 million, couldn't you buy your own damn country, and you could rule it anyway you want?” he asked. “No Pants Tuesdays, you could be done.”
“Thankfully,” he declared, “one member of Congress has put his foot down and his dukes up.”
The host then showed another video, which was narrated by a male reporter who said: “The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, majority leader Harry Reid, has now mentioned the billionaire Koch brothers this year more than 140 times.”
Reid was then shown saying:
They are in it to make money [in] an attempt to buy our democracy [that] is dishonest, deceptive, false and unfair.
Even during the Keystone [XL oil pipeline] debate, mister president, they're one of the main owners of all that stuff up there,“You know, in the history of the Senate, there have been many great and notable orators,” Stewart said sarcastically, "and I truly believe that Harry Reid's 'Vote Against the Stuff Up There Keystone Tube Dealy' [remarks] will go down in history” because the Nevada Democrat “is a crusader for good, money-free politics.”
At that point, Stewart ran a video of Reid being interviewed in which he was asked: “A lot of people have noted how much time you spend on the Senate floor talking about the Koch brothers, but what makes them worse than, say, Sheldon Adelson?”
“Oh, snap!” Stewart shouted before describing Adelson as “an arch-conservative” and “the owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the country's single biggest casino company -- including the Vegas Strip's only non-union casino.”
“In the 2012 presidential election, he gave $90 million to Republican candidates,” the comedian continued, "perhaps because he thought they'd help him take on 'the two most fundamental threats to society; namely, radical Islam and unions.'”
“Harry Reid is gonna crush this guy,” the liberal host added.
Instead, the majority leader responded: “So Sheldon Adelson, don't pick on him.”
The camera returned to Stewart, who pretended he was shocked while the audience laughed loudly.
“Wait,” he then said quietly. “What'd you say there, don't pick on the billionaire who puts money into politics? Why?”
“I know Sheldon Adelson,” Reid said. “He's not in this for money. He's in it because he has certain ideological views.”
“What the f**k difference does that make?” the liberal host shouted. “He's got ideological views. If those happen to line up with the money, mazel tov?”
One of Adelson's “ideological views” is his crusade to eliminate online gambling, a concept Stewart found suspicious since one of the few alternatives would be for people to go to one of his clubs.
In a clip from an interview, the executive defended his campaign since “I can't tell over the Internet who is underage, I can't tell who's got financial difficulties. I can't tell who is not gaming responsibly.”
The exasperated host then turned to Jason Jones, the senior political correspondent for the program, and asked: “Isn't it hypocritical for Harry Reid to draw distinctions between Sheldon Adelson's money and the Koch brothers'?”
“No,” Jones said flatly.
After several moments of silence, Stewart asked: “Do you want to expand on that?”
“Not really,” Jones said. “It's self-evident” because “Adelson's money and power help Harry Reid. The Koch brothers' money and power don't, so the Koch brothers are corrupt. It's a pretty simple concept to grasp.”
It's not likely that the Daily Show segment will have any impact on Harry Reid's efforts to demonize the Koch brothers, but Republicans can now point to an example of his hypocrisy when it comes to wealthy donors -- without even mentioning liberal billionaire George Soros.