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Romney's '47 percent' tape is comedy gold for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert

Comedy Central

As you might have expected, the release of tape from a Mitt Romney fundraising talk where the Republican candidate for president said that 47 percent of the population paid no income taxes and would never vote for him proved to be a gift to the late night talk show circuit.

“Finally a candidate with the courage to say half of all Americans are freeloaders who believe they are entitled to food!” said Steven Colbert on "The Colbert Report." “We job creators know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Lunch is $50,000 a plate” – the cost of the fundraiser Romney was speaking at.

Jon Stewart aired the video footage on "The Daily Show," and then a clip taken decades earlier when Romney’s mother talked about his dad’s rise to political prominence -- which began after he was on welfare relief as a boy.

“George Romney was on welfare,” Stewart noted. “So according to Mitt Romney’s own logic, Mitt Romney could not win the vote of his dad.”

That wasn’t the only gift that kept on giving to the comedians. On the tape, Romney also said he’d have a better chance of winning if he were Latino, and warned that “if the Hispanic voting block becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American vote has in the past we’re in trouble as a party and I think as a nation”

So in one fell swoop, Romney managed to diss 47 percent of the population, and added the Latino community for good measure -- which left Stewart wondering.

“This is a guy whose religion forbids him from drinking alcohol. Can you imagine what he would say if he were (drunk?)”

Ironically, this flap came right after the Romney campaign undertook a well-publicized reboot to distract from some of the candidate’s other missteps, including his controversial comments after the recent violence in Libya.

”You always reintroduce a candidate three weeks after the convention,” Stewart said. “It’s like telling a girl, ‘please go on a seventh date with me. I’ll grow on you.’”

“I’m happy to say that by last night nobody was focused on Libyans anymore!” Colbert added. He aired several news clips that described the Romney campaign as being shaken by the video release, but looked on the bright side. “Shaken to say the least. Vomiting blood to say the most. But no Libya!”

Living under a fatwa

Stewart sat down for a brief interview with Salman Rushdie, who famously was the subject of a fatwa and death threats following his release of “The Satanic Verses.” He recently released the autobiographical “Joseph Anton: A Memoir,” and discussed the experience of living under threat and what it was like to find out the news.

“I was sitting at home and I got a call from the BBC. The phone rings and this woman says to me, ‘how does it feel to know you’ve been sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini? I thought ‘good question.’”

Rushdie acknowledged the comparison to the man behind the YouTube film clips that caused much damage in the Middle East recently, with one major difference:  “That guy’s an (expletive).”

“We have to defend his right to free speech. But that doesn’t mean we have to not say he’s a jerk,” Rushdie said. “Even jerks have the right to free speech, but they’re still jerks. He did something clearly in order to incite a response, and the sad thing is that he got exactly the response he was trying to incite, only in spades, just like both sides have collaborated to create this calamity.”


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