In a new low for David Letterman – on both a professional and comedic level – each night this past week he devoted a Late Show “Stooge of the Night” segment to a Senator who dared to oppose the gun control bill, a law which would have done nothing to have prevented the Newtown tragedy.
Nonetheless, Letterman got very political in putting a picture of each Senator on the screen, yet the audience at his Manhattan theater remained befuddled, nearly silent after each announcement with, at best, scattered nervous laughter before Letterman followed up with a lame crack at their personal appearance. Those shots (Jeff Flake: “Reminds me a little of Gomer Pyle”; Ted Cruz: “How about a background check on his barber?”) generated a little laughter.
Audio: MP3 clip
The most painfully unfunny segment of the week was for freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday when Letterman impugned him as being bought by the gun lobby, as if a piddling $14,000 in campaign donations had anything to do with his pre-existing ideology:
“Senator Cruz voted no on gun control reform. He recently received $14,000 in contribution from the Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights. Senator Ted Cruz, there he is.”
Absolute total audience silence.
After his “how about a background check on his barber?” line, Letterman repeated: “Senator from Texas, there he is. Gun lobbies gave him $14,000, and then he votes no on gun control. Let’s just leave it up a little longer.”
Scattered nervous laughter.
Letterman: “Hey, Ted, what are you going to do with that 14 grand?”
Near total audience silence.
As a long-time fan who has on five occasions attended the tapings of his show (once at NBC, four times at the Ed Sullivan Theater), Letterman’s growing crass anti-conservative politicalization of his show has been disappointing.
The Late Show started the “stooge” feature on Monday night, April 22, Letterman’s first new program since the gun control bill lost in the Senate. He first targeted Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe:
James Inhofe voted no on gun control. He said the families of Newtown shootings had nothing to do with the debate on gun control, only thought they did, because they were told so by President Obama. There he is. Ladies and gentlemen, our “Stooge of the Night,” James Inhofe. Let's just leave that up there a little longer.
On Tuesday, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake:
Senator Jeff Flake voted no on gun control legislation just weeks after saying “One thing we can all agree on is strengthening background checks for gun buyers.” Let’s take another look at Jeff Flake. There he is, ladies and gentlemen, good looking guy, winning smile. Getting it done. Jeff Flake, our “Stooge of the Night.” Let’s just take a couple of seconds here to...Reminds me a little of Gomer Pyle.
Following Cruz on Wednesday, on Thursday Letterman hit the Republican leader in the Senate:
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted no on gun reform legislation despite the fact that 82 percent of Kentucky voters are in favor of background checks for gun buyers. 82 percent of the voters in Kentucky wanted background checks on gun buyers. Mitch McConnell said nope and voted no. There he is, ladies and gentlemen. Hi, I’m Mitch McConnell. Are you happy with your dental implants?
Finally, on Friday, Letterman got to a Democrat, Mark Pryor of Arkansas who, Letterman complained, “voted ‘no’ on gun reform legislation even though as a state legislator in Arkansas he authored four gun control bills that included background checks. ‘Hi, please call me Mark. What can I do to put you in a LeSabre?’”
Thanks to the MRC’s Matt Hadro for transcribing these segments.