Stephen Colbert led Thursday’s Late Show with a look at Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, an expansive $2tn overhaul that would revamp transportation, and broadband access, fix 20,000 miles of road and 10,000 bridges, and eliminate lead pipes from the nation’s water supply. “I’d say they’ve thrown in everything but the kitchen sink,” said Colbert, “but the kitchen sink has lead pipes, so it’s in there too.”
The bill is popular with voters, with polls placing approval at roughly 73%, higher even than the Covid relief bill. “So Republicans are desperately searching for a reason to oppose it,” Colbert explained.
Enter Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who smeared the bill on Twitter as “about anything but infrastructure” and “$400bn toward elder care”.
“First of all, seniors are all your voters!” Colbert responded. “Second of all, what is she talking about it? Seniors are infrastructure, they hold the collective memory of every road ever built!” he added, imitating your grandma: “Did you take the 480 bypass to get here today? Because I remember before they built that you had to take the two-lane blacktop to Chester and then double back.”
Colbert also provided an update on the sex scandal engulfing the Florida congressman and outspoken Trump lackey Matt Gaetz, who was revealed last week to be under federal investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a minor. Federal investigators are reportedly looking into whether Gaetz’s trip to the Bahamas in late 2018 violated federal sex trafficking laws.
The trip was hosted by a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon, Jason Pirozzolo, who provided accommodations and female escorts. “I know Gaetz is from Florida, but Bahama sex trafficking with weed-peddling hand surgeon is almost too Florida, even for him,” Colbert joked.
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah launched a new recurring segment: Culture Wars: Moral Kombat, with an installment on the wave of anti-trans legislation taken up by numerous states. Twenty-five states, for example, are considering bans on transgender youth, especially girls, from sports, based on a single case in Connecticut of a trans female athlete winning a state championship.
“When it comes to major issues with tons of evidence like climate change, or coronavirus, or gun violence, [Republicans] are like, ‘Huh, let’s wait until we see more evidence,’” Noah said. “But now, there’s an issue that barely even exists, and they’re like, ‘We don’t have time for evidence, there’s a plastic trophy at stake!’”
Some states are also prohibiting medical care – Arkansas banned transgender medical care for minors even with parental consent, and a North Carolina measure would even compel state workers, such as teachers, to notify parents if their child shows “gender nonconformity”.
“You guys are playing – so North Carolina is going to make its school employees snitch on kids any time they don’t ‘conform to their gender’?” Noah fumed. “What does that even mean? Conforming to one’s gender?
“This is not just transphobic, it’s also sexist and everything else,” he said. “These Republicans act like all they care about is the health and wellbeing of the kids. But it kind of gives the game away when they start adding on stuff like ‘And don’t play with dolls or we’ll tell your mom!’”
The measures are opposed by several major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Medical professionals and trans people themselves say that treating kids early can be beneficial, which makes you wonder: what’s really behind all of these laws? If you ask me, it’s hate,” Noah said. “A lot of these people are angry because trans people don’t conform to a neat idea of gender, and as humans, we like things when they are neat and organized the way we want.
“But as scared as some people might be by the idea of a trans person, it is nothing compared to how scared trans kids are dealing with problems that they don’t always understand in a world that oftentimes does not accept them,” he concluded. “So if these states are going to be passing laws to help anyone feel safer, it should be them.”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel reacted to news that Mike Pence signed a seven-figure, two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. The publisher pitched the memoir by the former vice-president as “the definitive book on one of the most consequential presidencies in American history”.
“Oh it was consequential, all right,” said Kimmel, suggesting they name the book “Ass Kisser – it’s simple, it’s to the point.”
The book will supposedly cover not just Pence’s time in the White House but also traumatic family events “like the time he saw Mother without her bonnet, and he even opens up about the time in college he experimented with almond milk”, Kimmel joked.
“This will be the only time pages got whiter after words were printed on them.”