Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart joked that the U.S. Senate is like “an assisted living facility,” reflecting on his time spent on Capitol Hill fighting for benefits for veterans, first responders and their families.
“Our country is held together by hundreds of really talented legislative aides,” Stewart said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “Their bosses, many times, are wind up dolls… if you go down there, especially the Senate, is like an assisted living facility.”
Stewart, whose run on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central in the 2000s established him as a leading political satirists, has been in close proximity in recent years with some of those lawmakers.
He helped advocate for the passage of a bill that extended health benefits for veterans that were exposed to toxic burn pits during their service time. President Biden signed the bill into law last summer.
Stewart praised legislative aides and grassroots organizers are who affect change in the U.S., but argued they are stymied many times by lobbyists and influential interest groups.
“It’s held together by these legislative aides that are relentlessly trying to do the right thing and by the thousands of grassroots activists that are trying to get access,” Stewart said. “And they’re blocked by a moat of lobbyists and monied interests.”
Stewart’s joke about the age of some Senators follows Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Az.) blasting the chamber as a place where “old dudes are eating Jell-O” at a reception with Republican lobbyists in Washington this year, according to Politico.
“Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are,” Sinema said of Senate Democrats’s weekly lunches. “I don’t really need to be there for that. That’s an hour and a half twice a week that I can get back.”
Stewart, who now hosts a show called “The Problem with Jon Stewart” on Apple TV+, said that even though some of the aides in the legislative process are people he disagrees with, he can still work with them because they are “honest brokers.”
“If you can find honest brokers down there, you can work with them,” Stewart said. “What I’m saying is that forcefield around it is made up of not honest brokers.”