If you missed last night’s Daily Show, try and catch the rerun. (Or look for it in a few days online.) Jon Stewart lit into Henry Bonilla (R-TX), who was on to talk about his experience as part of the Republican rapid response team last week in Boston. It’s a pretty dramatic take down, and it started so innocently.
Stewart asked about the “first and fourth most liberal Senators” claim that’s become a Republican talking point in the past month. Bonilla clearly had no idea where the claim originated, just that it must be true. “But which group ranked them?” asked Stewart, appearing completely sincere in his desire to find out. Bonilla hedged, claiming it was a collection of unnamed “groups” responsible for the ranking. “Is this making sense?” he asked Stewart. “No, not really,” was the reply. Stewart asked at least a half dozen times, demonstrating again and again that Bonilla didn’t have a clue but believed it 100%. (Remember: it’s not a lie if you believe it.)
Turns out Stewart knew all along who had come up with the ranking: the National Journal, which looked at roll call votes in 2003 to come up with its ranking. Only problem is, when you rank on those same criteria but include all votes, turns out that Kerry and Edwards are much closer to the Democratic median — with Edwards being slightly to the right of the median. (An excerpted transcript of the exchange between Stewart and Bonilla is here, courtesy of Angry Bear.)
Monday’s NY Times has an op-ed from the Brookings Institution on this subject, and Spinsanity (who wrote an op-ed of their own in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the subject) links to the University of Houston study that establishes the broader voting record and ranking of the two Senators.
Stewart’s clearly annoyed at the punditocracy and spinning that’s shaping views. Last week, in response to Tom Brokaw’s question about whether Stewart was concerned that many 18-34 year-old’s get their news from The Daily Show, Stewart responded, “I’m concerned about the incredible number of people who say they get the news from you guys.” Ouch. He concluded last night’s show by pleading with viewers: “Do yourself a favor. Turn your TV off, and try thinking about the issues yourself. Whatever you do, don’t listen to this guy…” Pictures of the talking heads on TV started appearing, eventually covering the screen. “Seriously. Make up your own mind.”