The Daily Show was on break last week, which meant it missed out on all of the farmers-turned-pseudo-militia fun of the Cliven Bundy story. So Jon Stewart spent the first few minutes last night playing catch-up – in a new segment titled "I don't get it."
To be honest, Jon, neither do we. Can you explain what's going on? "It is your standard 'boy has cow, boy breaks law for 20 years, boy loses cow' story," Stewart said. Or at least it was, until a bunch of armed ranchers showed up to help Bundy defend his farm in a standoff with federal officers. And exactly what kind of people came to the defense of Bundy? People like Richard Mack, who explained their tactics: "We were actually strategizing to put all of the women up at the front. If they're going to start shooting, it's going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."
"He seems nice," Stewart quipped. Yes, these are the sorts of people we're dealing with here.
"I understand this is the West, everyone wants to romanticize it, last frontier of liberty ... [But] how is this guy Bundy a hero for ignoring federal law, and what is the justification?" Stewart asked.
Here's Bundy's answer: "I abide by all of Nevada state laws, but I don't recognize United States government as even existing."
Oh, all right. "I'm as against government overreach as the next guy, but I don't think the federal government is overreaching by saying it exists," Stewart said.
You know what would help us figure this whole thing out? Some basic philosophical principles. Let Stewart-as-Bundy explain: "Heck, I'm just a simple fella, some folks call a Cartesian, follower of René Descartes. And without immediate sensory proof how am I to take government existence as prima facie assumption? Shit, what if we're all just brains in a jar? I got to pay you for grazing my imaginary brain-jar cattle? Who do you take me, fucking John Locke?"
Thanks, that clears everything up. Well, almost everything. We still have to figure out why Bundy, who admittedly does not recognize the existence of the federal government, is carrying around the flag of the United States government:
Stewart: "If you reject the American federal government, at least have the decency to create your own damn flag."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.