Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance on his former colleague Stephen Colbert’s new stomping grounds on Thursday to promote a serious cause – the preservation of a health care program for 9/11 first responders.
Stewart showed up during Colbert’s opening monologue to bring attention to legislation – the Zadroga Act -- he’s been aggressively lobbying for on Capitol Hill.
However, because his message hasn’t been getting through to legislators, he and Colbert came up with a novel idea. They decided to “Trump it up,” disguising Stewart as the ubiquitous GOP presidential front-runner. Sporting a wig and adding Cheetos dust as make-up to turn his completion more ruddy, Stewart made his case.
“These 9/11 first responders, let me tell you something, these 9/11 first responders are the most top-notch, first-class, diamond-encrusted heroes America can produce," Stewart told the audience in an exaggerated Trump impression. "I will build a wall around politics, and I will make politics pay for it,” he added in character. He went on to encourage viewers to use the popular hashtag #WorstResponders to shame Congress into action.
The 53-year-old comedian, who retired from his 16-year stint at "The Daily Show" in August, has been calling out Republican legislators, and Sen. Mitch McConnell in particular, for stalling the bill.
"Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky doesn't give a s*** about anything but politics," Stewart said during a recent appearance on “The Daily Show”. "(He) pulled it out of the transportation bill when he didn't get concessions about loosening oil export regulations."
During that same appearance, Stewart said the law, which was first passed in 2010, was never funded adequately, and there “was no reason not to renew it permanently, but they did not renew it anyway.”
"The only conclusion that I can draw is that the people of Congress are not as good a people as the people who are first responders," he said.
According to New York magazine, " ... there aren’t many chances to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act – named after a first responder who died in 2006 – before the year ends. There’s the omnibus spending bill – the one that needs to pass if we’re going to avoid a shutdown – or a tax-breaks extension."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has assured NBC News earlier this month, "We have not decided what vehicle it will be or what funding level but it is something we do intend to get done by the end of the year." However, several of his Republican colleagues have not been as bullish, citing concerns over the health program's cost.