When Vice President Joe Biden took the stage on Tuesday's Daily Show, he began with a low bow to Jon Stewart, mocking the controversy over President Obama's bow to the emperor of Japan.
What Stewart wanted most from Biden, however, was to know whether "you guys are Jedi masters that are making ten chess moves ahead or if this whole thing is kicking your ass."
"I think we're in between," Biden replied amiably. "We're making progress."
Biden defended the stimulus program against charges that a few reporting errors at Recovery.gov indicate a lack of transparency. "We've been in business seven-eight months," he noted. "The one thing you haven't seen is ... the big, wasteful projects. No one's come out there with anything where we've gone out there and spent two million dollars on something that didn't exist."
Biden also said he understands people's impatience with the recovery process, because "nothing matters until you have a job, and jobs are going to lag behind growth in this country by something between twelve and eighteen months," but he insisted that "everything else is growing."
"I love these guys who got us here telling us what we should do now," Biden remarked. "I find that fascinating!"
Srewart then challenged Biden on the bailout, saying, "That's the part I really can't figure out. ... We're bailing out the top dogs, a hundred cents on the dollar, and going, 'I hope you guys heal up and start making that money again soon and start drizzling it down on the rest of us.'"
"I think everyone has a right to be frustrated and angry," Biden agreed. "I was out in Arizona the other day and I said, 'You know, I'd have gotten more support in Congress if I said, "Let's pass a law restoring rattlesnakes to the desert."' These guys aren't the most likable guys in the world."
Biden insisted, however, that if the bankers hadn't been bailed out there would have been a "flat, blown-out depression" and that the "economists all agreed there was no way to let them go under."
"What we're doing now is we're trying to get financial reform through the United States Congress," Biden continued. "It was the cowboy mentality on Wall Street playing with your money that allowed us to be in this position. What we're trying to figure out now is ... how you change the regulations by which people can spend your money so there's accountability."
Biden admitted that the administration has been having problems getting its legislation through even the Democrat-controlled Congress but insisted it was because "the Republican Party has nothing but hard-core conservatives -- there are no moderates left. The Democratic Party has moderates, liberals, and conservative Democrats."
"And communists," Stewart put in.
"No -- one socialistl," Biden corrected, referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).
"It always strikes me that when the Republicans are in the majority," commented Stewart, "it's 'let's have a straight up and down vote,' and they get it done. And then when the Democrats are in the majority, they're like, 'I'm drowning.' It's completely baffling."
"You make a good point," Biden chuckled.
This video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast Nov. 17, 2009.