Jon Stewart on IRS: 'Borders On Criminal Idiocy'

In the June 24 edition of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, the Comedy Central host spent the first 10 minutes of his show mocking the blatant incompetence of the IRS. Even though Jon Stewart did say Republicans were “d***s” to the IRS commissioner during the hearing, he spent most of the segment making fun of the IRS’s “unacceptable” behavior which “borders on criminal idiocy.”

While Stewart accepted that “computers do crash,” he yelled that it should takes less time than the “gestat(ion) period of a manatee” to find that information out. But according to the liberal comedian, what takes the scandal beyond the realm of “annoying” was that the IRS, “The government agency whose entire business model release on forcing Americans to live as borderline hoarders” only keeps backup tapes for six months. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

Stewart continued his unusual display of bipartisan humor by spending the next segment poking fun at Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton for their “poor-off.” According to the Comedy Central host, both potential 2016 candidates were trying their best to “appeal best to traditional blue collar Reagan Democratic voters” by claiming they have experienced financial struggles. He questioned why both Democrats have “poverty Tourettes” and “seem to think we need a hobo for president?”

Kudos to Stewart for taking time out of his normal schedule of making fun of gun-wielding, insensitive conservatives to notice the discrepancies in his own party and its beloved big government.

See transcript below:

Comedy Central
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
June 24, 2014
11:00 p.m. Eastern
9 minutes and 33 seconds


JON STEWART: But first, you know, you know, for most of its existence, the IRS was America's favorite government agency. But that all changed after the IRS admitted last year to certain improprieties.  

CNN AUDIO: Tea party and other conservative groups that rose to power early in the president's first term were unfairly targeted for special scrutiny by the IRS.

STEWART: By the way, whatever you think of the Tea Party movement, I think we should all agree that the only federal agency that should be singling it out for special scrutiny is the fashion police. I mean pantaloons? Come on, pantaloons? That is so Benjamin Frumplin. Well anyway, since then, it has been established that the IRS also targeted liberal 501-C4's but not with the same level of scrutiny that they applied to the conservatives. So that's something. I know the right that wants that something to be that President Obama ordered the IRS to target them while he sat in a dark room, smoking a cigar, stroking a cat, whilst an orphan boy stands outside in the rain looking through the window saying “Why? Why, Mr. President? Why.” But as it turns out, there's been no real evidence found that the White House is involved and the cat turned out to be a dog and the orphan actually has parents and was putting on a British accent. But the point is this. These IRS troubles do not appear to be that. But they are something. And the IRS is clearly doing their best to continue to give off scandal stink like some kind of scared scandal skunk. When we last left the IRS, their official, Lois Lerner, had taken the Fifth, rather than testify in front of Congress, so Congress asked the IRS if they would be so kind as to click the forward button on all of Lois Lerner's e-mails. What what happened that?

NANCY CORDES: They say the IRS has been promising to get them these emails for a year, and now suddenly says that Lois Lerner's computer crashed way back in 2011 and that many of those emails are just gone.

STEWART: Well, that's irritating. Computers do crash. Emails are lost, but typically finding that out, that information, takes less time than it takes to gestate a manatee. A year? Come on! Well, first Congress had to fill out form 1218A sub. E-Z. That is an e-mail requisition form for our records. Then we throw that form into a room filled with chimps. Then, we, then what we did is we trained the chimps to read. So things were looking good. That's when, unfortunately, the chimps unionized. So that was the whole thing. But finally we negotiated a contract. Finally, we delivered a contract the chimps didn't throw their feces at. The point is email representatives are now done through a different form, so if you can reapply, et cetera, et cetera. So it is in this environment that the new IRS commissioner John ... Really, you like that? The new IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, he comes before Congress to testify. I wonder if they're going to be d***s to him.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-Calif.): Please rise to take the oath. Raise your right hand. A little higher.

STEWART: Wow. That was easy. Now turn around and wiggle. Seriously though, while we all might want to do that to the head of the IRS, what does raising your hand higher have to do with telling the truth? Uh, I can lie. Wait, I can lie. Hold on. I can lie. I can lie. I can lie. I can no longer lie! For my hand is too close to God. That's him scratching God's beard. Hello! All right. Enough cathartic public shaming. Where are the damn emails.

JOHN KOSKINEN: The actual hard drive, after it was determined that it was dysfunctional and with experts no e-mails could be retrieved was recycled and destroyed in the normal process.

REP. DAVE CAMP (R-Mich.): So was it physically destroyed?

KOSKINEN: That's my understanding.

CAMP: So was it melted down, do you know?

KOSKINEN: I have no idea what the recycler does with it.

STEWART: For all I know Lois Lerner's hard drive was ground into a fine dust, sprinkled like Parmesan onto a lasagna that was served to those in this very chamber. So I say to you, Congress, if you want to see all of Lois Lerner's e-mails, you must look inside yourselves. Or, or you could... Or you could wait. By the way, that is a killer that guy impression. That I will use for the rest of my career. So up until now, the whole thing is annoying. But not quite galling. Here's where it gets somewhat galling.

KOSKINEN: The IRS has historically only preserved back-up tapes for six months.

STEWART: All right. The government agency whose entire business model release on forcing Americans to live as borderline hoarders. Only keeps their s*** for six months? No. That's unacceptable. You know, you never get a notice from the IRS saying please bring your records down to us... If you can find them. I mean this is like if the EPA was dumping its office trash in the National Zoo's spotted owl exhibit. Meaning, it would be ironic. But even if the IRS deleted the tapes, why can't they just get the emails from her inbox. Spoiler alert: It's stupid and preventable. Each IRS employee's email box back then only held 150 megabytes of information. Also known as five pictures of your family. Or one picture of Anthony Weiner's c***. Boom! Boom! C***. C*** Yeah. He has a somewhat large penis. 150 megabytes. That's 1% of what Gmail offers you for free. And that comes with a Google Plus account for you to not use. The federal government, the federal government has built an entire complex in the deserts of Utah to store everything Americans have ever said to each other. But inter-government conversations? I don't know. Buy a f****** thumb drive. If there is a larger scandal here, it's that our government's handling of information across all platforms borders on criminal idiocy. The IRS is frying hard drives, the VA is drowning in paper. Is there any record keeping medium that the government could use that could work for them? Microfiche? We'll do it. Stone tablets? We'll do it. We could take a page out of the ancient Greeks. Weave all of our important information into an epic poem and recite entirely from memory, pass down from generations over a federal archival oral tradition from bard to apprentice, but you’d probably lose that f****** page.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.