Thanks to state-level efforts to expand mail-in voting and drop-off boxes, record turnout in the 2020 election helped secure the White House for Joe Biden and flip the Senate for Democrats. Which is why, explained Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show, Republicans in numerous states are trying to crack down on access to the vote; 33 state legislatures have introduced 165 bills to restrict voter access in just the last month. In other words, “Republicans saw the record number of people exercising their right to vote,” said Noah, “and they said, ‘Yo, that shit cannot happen again.’”
The measures range from run-of-mill but still discriminatory voter restrictions such as photo ID laws to an extreme Arizona proposal which would grant the state legislature the power to overrule the secretary of state’s certification of election results. “Once that happens, what’s the point of even voting?” Noah asked. “Arizona is going to have to update their [I Voted] stickers.
“But hey, I get it – Republicans have to make it harder to vote so that they have a better chance of winning elections,” he added. “The only other option for them is to change their policies to appeal to a majority of voters, but come on, that’s way too hard.
“Of course, there’s nothing new about states making it harder for people to vote,” Noah continued. “I mean, we’ve all seen every election – there are lines longer than the ones on Don Jr’s mirror.” But one new Georgia bill would make waiting in the state’s notoriously long poll lines even more difficult by criminalizing the distribution of water or food to voters. “Congratulations, Georgia, you’ve finally solved the issue of widespread voter hydration,” Noah deadpanned.
“Republicans are ballers, you’ve got to admit,” he added. “They reduced the voting locations so that people have to wait in line for hours, and now they want to ban people from giving out food and water to people who are waiting in line. It’s like every year they make it 5% harder to vote. So by 2030, the voting line is just going to be an American Ninja Warrior episode.”
Stephen Colbert observed a staggering milestone on Tuesday: more than 500,000 Americans now lost to the coronavirus. “That is a horrifying, tragic number that was completely avoidable, that we could all see coming, and was clearly the result of failed leadership,” the Late Show host said.
In an emotional speech, a tearful Joe Biden mourned those lost to the virus – a toll greater than America’s losses in the first world war, second world war and the Vietnam war combined – and urged Americans not to “become numb to sorrow”.
“It was a devastating but powerful speech because of Biden’s willingness to share in our national grief by naming his personal experience with unimaginable loss,” Colbert said of the address, calling it “nutritious to the soul” to see a president “finally facing our emotional reality.
“And it’s refreshing, because the previous guy’s emotional range ran the gamut from angry to hangry,” he quipped.
The numbers reflect the previous administration’s failure to handle the virus: the US, about 4% of the world’s population, has recorded 25% of the world’s Covid cases and 20% of its fatalities. “If a restaurant had the health record the United States does, the letter grade out front would be ‘not available, inspector devoured by rats’,” Colbert joked.
Later, Colbert turned his attention to the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, “a who’s-who of ‘who needs that many guns in their rec room?’
“Of course, with all of the crises facing our nation, conservatives are focusing on the most pressing issue of all: fascists being kicked off of Twitter,” he added, mocking the conference’s “America Uncanceled” theme. “I didn’t know America was canceled?” he joked. “Although I’m not surprised, the last season was pretty unbelievable – a pandemic and Nazis? OK, pick one, we’ve jumped the shark.”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel also anticipated the upcoming CPAC conference, in which Donald Trump is expected to give a keynote address to a party riven with dissent over his incitement of the Capitol riot on 6 January. Yet even Republicans horrified by the attack, such as the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, have closed ranks around the former president. “Remember six weeks ago when Lindsey Graham said count me out and enough is enough when it comes to Trump?” Kimmel said. “Well neither does he.”
“I’ve never felt better about President Trump leading the party than I do right now,” Graham told Fox News this week, to which Kimmel retorted: “Really? Then why do you look like you’re about to barf up your Grape Nuts.”
CPAC is “like Comic-Con for neocons and neo-Nazis, too”, Kimmel explained. And this year’s “America Uncanceled” theme is “interesting, because yesterday they canceled one of the speakers they had scheduled”, Kimmel added, as the conference axed an appearance by the rapper Young Pharaoh after journalists uncovered his history of antisemitic tweets.