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Jon Stewart baffled by Mississippi's belated slavery ban

February 21, 2013|By Meredith Blake

“The Daily Show” has had a lot of fun with regional peculiarities this week. On Wednesday, Jon Stewart had a good laugh at the expense of the Russian people and their blasé attitude about seemingly everything -- including giant flaming space rocks.   

Last night, he targeted a place closer to home: Mississippi.

Stewart began by noting how some states have reputations that are hard to overcome. Fair or not, the Magnolia State has never quite been able to shake the legacy of slavery and segregation.

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Why, he wondered, was this stigma so persistent?

Part of the state’s image problem could be that it only formally ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery earlier this month. That’s a full 147 years after it became the law of the land -- but hey, who’s counting?

Stewart had two things to say about the news: “First, better late than never. And second, this is pretty [darn] late.”

As Stewart explained, the official ratification came about thanks to two Mississippi residents who had just seen the Oscar-nominated film “Lincoln,” which chronicles the efforts to pass the amendment.

“Then, Mississippi went to see 'Django Unchained' and tried to take the ratification back,” he joked, before posing a more serious question. “How are you just getting to this now? Didn’t the release of ‘Mississippi Burning’ push to revisit the issue in any way?”

As Stewart noted, the process was slowed down by a small clerical oversight way, way back in 1995, when former Mississippi secretary of State Dick Molpus failed to send a copy of the Mississippi Legislature's resolution to the Federal Registrar, which meant it was never official.

“Classic Dick Molpus,” Stewart said, tickled by Molpus’ distinctly Southern name and by that of the current Mississippi secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, who was tasked with fixing the error.

“Delbert Hosemann cleaned up for Dick Molpus, huh? Can’t wait for next year’s Mississippi secretary of State race between Smert Nickeldumb and Cleavage Thickbutt,” he said.

For what it's worth, Stewart's buddy Stephen Colbert also seems intrigued by local eccentricities lately. After segments about the European horse meat scandal and the Russian meteor on Wednesday, Wednesday night he did a wonderfully weird piece on what is apparently the hottest TV show in Norway, "National Firewood Night," a program dedicated to the fascinating topic of chopping, stacking and drying wood.

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