"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver shredded Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for playing "cute" while people in their states desperately need the programs outlined in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan.
West Virginia residents came to Washington, D.C. and rented kayaks to paddle out to Manchin's yacht on the Potomac River this week to discuss the bill with him. They'd been doing it all week, but it wasn't until late in the week that he finally responded. Videos of the incident show Manchin's voters begging him to care about the poor in his state while he shouted over the railing of the $250,000 boat named "Almost Heaven."
Manchin tried to use the same spin that works on cable news interviews, but it didn't go over very well.
"The Republicans are likely to take over the Senate, this is our one chance, right now to pass the legislation," the West Virginian said. Another noted that the GOP is "not going to pass this for the people. They're not, this is our chance. We can't wait."
"How much do you think that we spend on non-discretionary, basically non-defense? Just as much," Manchin shouted.
"Not enough," another shouted back.
Others chimed in about the need for the wealthy to pay their share, or even anything at all. One piece of Biden's plan would better fund the IRS to take millionaire and billionaire tax cheats to court and demand the money they owe the United States.
"We're doing everything we can to create good opportunities," Manchin claimed.
"Tax the rich," someone shouted.
"Well, I agree with that," he said, adding, "we are going to make the rich and the famous pay."
The problem with that promise is that Manchin doesn't believe that. The one-page plan that he outlined would be a shadow of the Build Back Better agenda.
"Wow, I'm not sure which state of capitalism we've reached when kayaking out to a politician's yacht to beg him to help the poor," said Oliver. "But it's got to be the last ones. It goes, ocean on fire, books billionaire leaves the planet and boat b*tch says no."
Oliver noted that the policies outlined in Biden's plan are largely popular, even among Republican voters. Not since the Trump COVID stimulus has there been so much bipartisan support. But Republicans have suddenly decided that they don't want Biden to be able to spend any money, even if there are plans to pay it back. Manchin and Sinema tried to argue against the bill using the GOP talking point about the deficit, but they were destroyed in the press by fact-checkers, other Democrats and the White House, which all said that billionaires can afford to be taxed a tiny bit more.
Manchin, however, is at least engaging with voters. Oliver noted that Sinema is refusing to talk to anyone about what she wants and negotiate with anyone. He explained that she was trying to be the "fun one" in the Senate but that it isn't fun anymore when she refuses to talk about actual issues.
Oliver called it a "sh*tty game" she played when reporters asked her where she was in the negotiations with the White House and other Democrats.
"I'm in the Senate," she answered. When reporters asked her again she answered, "I'm clearly right in front of the elevator."
"Oh, f*ck right off," Oliver said to her response. "Which is about maddening as when you tell your dad 'I'm hungry' and he says 'Nice to meet you hungry, I'm dad.' I mean, yeah, you technically got me there and you certainly have a playful way with words but I've got a f*cking problem that you are supposed to solve!"
Sinema left D.C. to go home where she went to a high-end resort and spa and raised money from mega-donors. When it was time for her to answer real questions from voters, however, Sinema fled from Arizona State University students into the bathroom so she wouldn't have to talk to them about her opposition to the bill.
Oliver noted that some of Sinema's supporters have tried to pass off her eccentricities as an asset.
"She doesn't think in a linear process, like, 'OK, will this impact my reelection?' She just beats her own drum," the supporter told the New York Times this weekend. "When she leaves in the middle of something and says, 'I got stuff to do,' it's because she has plans. Sometimes she's just more interested in training for an Ironman. More power to her, man."
Oliver wasn't buying it. In fact, no one does, according to recent poll numbers of Arizona voters.
"Except, here's the thing, no! Not more power to her, man!" he said. "Because that is one of her own supporters telling us she's impossible to understand, doesn't think in a linear process and wanders off in the middle of a conversation. And that's how I would describe any cat. Those qualities in a civilian might make you a fun eccentric but when you're a senator it just makes you bad at your f*cking job!"
See the video below: