Four years after leaving The Daily Show—and his default pulpit as one of the last generally trustworthy, moral voices in American political commentary—Jon Stewart has been extremely careful about the ways he’s spent his cultural cachet. (Okay, mostly.) Even when popping up to joke around with his old pal Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, it’s generally been in the service of some message or another: Sometimes simply politics and empathy, but more often than not, Stewart has spoken out on behalf of 9/11 first responders, using his celebrity to help shame Congress into approving measures that would provide for the health care and futures of the men and women who risked their lives to save their fellow New Yorkers 18 years ago.
Of course, “shame” and “Congress” have always been something of a rough fit, which might help explain why—not long after Stewart went after Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell for using his position as Senate Majority Leader to obstruct re-authorization of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which provides for the health and families of people affected by the attack—he now has words for McConnell’s colleague Rand Paul. Paul (and Utah’s Mike Lee), after all, blocked Senate attempts to pass the bill today, citing costs and the need for further debate on the measures. Unsurprisingly, Stewart wasn’t having it.
No jokes here: Just fire, as Stewart dubs the entire situation an “abomination,” referencing the death of first responder Luis Alvarez, who testified before Congress about the affects his work had on his health, who campaigned with Stewart for extension of the fund, and who died at the age of 53 from cancer that was reportedly linked to his exposure to rubble at ground zero. It’s brutal stuff, but also, almost certainly no less brutal than what’s deserved, given the circumstances.