Daily Show host Jon Stewart ripped the wave of conspiracy theories surrounding the Jade Helm 15 training exercises, which have some people concerned over a “Texas takeover” by the federal government.
“You know who’s calling it a ‘Texas takeover’? Lone star lunatics. Dallas d*cks, Houston a*sholes,” Stewart said. “There’s no Texas takeover. The United States government already controls Texas. Just borrow a textbook from a neighboring state — it’s all in there.”
While it was “adorable” for Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to think that the state guard could pick a fight with the military and win, Stewart said, the exercises date back to at least 2001, when another Republican, George W. Bush, was president and Rick Perry let the operations continue without incident.
“It appears you are on the verge of being taken over by ISIS or the United States of America,” Stewart said. “So you have a choice to make. And when you make it, just remember — and I never thought I’d be saying this — what would Rick Perry do?”
Stewart also touched on the recent attempted shooting attack outside an anti-Muslim event promoted by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), criticizing the attack without siding with Geller’s particular message.
“AFDI is a First Amendment group the same way people from Philly are sports fans,” he said. “Ostensibly, they like sports, but really they’re looking for an excuse to punch a stranger and pour beer on someone’s baby.”
Nevertheless, he argued, “It is not okay to shoot other people because you are offended by what they draw. Even if they drew it to offend you, no shooting of them. Never okay.”
That statement led to an impromptu meeting with his correspondents, who popped out from under his desk looking for loopholes.
“What if someone is creating a climate of hate and intolerance by appealing to peoples’ basest fears?” Hasan Minhaj asked.
“No. The violence just perpetuates the fear,” Stewart replied. “You can’t. Thank you.”
Stewart found himself fending off questions from not only Minhaj, but Jessica Williams, Jordan Klepper, and a returning Al Madrigal, who took the host by surprise.
“I haven’t seen you in like six months,” Stewart said, before asking, “When did you get here?”
“I’ve been down here the whole time,” Madrigal replied.
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Monday, below.