Stephen Colbert kicked off the month of August recess in Washington with news that Joe Biden tested positive for Covid for the second time days after testing negative, a rebound case after taking the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. “Wow, getting Covid twice in a row because you took Paxlovid? Who could’ve seen this coming?” the Late Show host said, pointing to himself. (Colbert had two bouts of Covid in May after taking Paxlovid.)
“It’s happened to a lot of folks. I don’t know anyone who’s taken Paxlovid who didn’t get it again,” he said. “It’s the hottest rebound since JLo tested positive for a second case of Affleck.”
Experts say the rebound infections are caused by “insufficient drug exposure” – as in, not enough of the drug gets into infected cells to stop all viral replication. “So the Covid pops right back up, which is why the White House is trying to give Paxlovid to Biden’s poll numbers,” Colbert quipped.
Colbert then turned to infuriating news from Washington regarding veterans’ healthcare. “I’ve been making the political jokey make-em-ups for over 20 years now, and I have never seen anything so baldly cynical and pointlessly malicious as this,” he said. “And if there are children in the room, tell them to age quickly and please vote.” Colbert referred to the Pact Act, which would expand healthcare coverage to military veterans exposed to toxic chemicals or burn pits during their service. “That’s something we can agree on – if we’re going to go to war, we have to take care of the warriors,” said Colbert.
Both the House and the Senate initially passed the bill, but due to an administrative issue, the Senate had to revote. Twenty-five Republican senators flipped their votes, blocking the Pact Act’s passage. “Why would Republicans screw over veterans on a bill that they previously voted for?” Colbert wondered. “Well, one theory is that they had their boxers in a bunch after Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer secretly negotiated a big climate deal.” Jon Tester, Democratic senator from Montana, attributed the vote to “political payback” from people who had “lost their minds”.
“Well, that would be some misdirected anger, GOP,” Colbert fumed. “That’s like a quarterback saying, ‘OK, huddle up, we’re down 20, I just threw an interception and the other team scored. Here’s the play: I’m going to go sucker-punch that old guy at the hot dog stand.’”
Colbert then skewered Ted Cruz, who fist-bumped fellow GOP senator Steve Daines after blocking the bill for veterans’ healthcare he had previously voted for. “I imagine there’s some veterans out there who would also like to bump Ted Cruz with their fists,” said Colbert.
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah marveled at the pettiness of Donald Trump, who last month had his ex-wife Ivana Trump buried near the first hole of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, probably for a tax break. The strange burial site would exempt the golf course from New Jersey’s tax code, which does not tax land used as a cemetery.
“Wow. A lot of people say, ‘I’ll pay taxes on my dead body,’ but Trump means it. Over someone else’s body,” Noah said.
“Even for him, this feels like a step too far,” he continued. “I don’t care what anyone says. I wouldn’t even laugh at that as a joke. If someone said to me, ‘Donald Trump’s ex-wife died, he’s probably going to bury her on his golf course de ella to save de ella on taxes,’ I’d be like, ‘yo, that’s not cool, man.’
“But it turns out Trump was like, ‘wait wait, say more. I’m going to send this to my accountant, keep going.’
“What this really shows you is how strange the tax system can be,” Noah concluded. “All this tax break does is incentivize you to be a weirdo. Who came up with this? It almost feels like the law was written by a serial killer – ‘there should be a law, that if you bury a body in your yard, you don’t have to pay taxes any more.’”
And on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon began with Biden’s rebound Covid case. “Right now, Biden’s looking on the bright side,” he said. “He’s like ‘well, at least my Covid got a second term.’
“Usually when a 79-year-old is on the rebound, you’re meeting your new aunt named Barbara,” he joked. “The virus came back so fast the staffers didn’t even have time to take down the Get Well Soon balloons.”
Fallon also wondered about the single Illinois ticket that won the $1.34bn Mega Millions jackpot over the weekend. “The winner hasn’t come forward yet, so either they’re contacting financial experts, or they’re at home being like, ‘crap, where is it, I went swimming, no one turn on the washing machine!’” he said.
And after a trip to Canada using a wheelchair and walker, Pope Francis said that he will need to either slow down or retire. “So I guess we know who won the Mega Millions,” Fallon joked. “Congratulations, your holiness.”