tv The Colbert Report Comedy Central July 4, 2013 9:30am-10:01am PDT
>> say one thing for congress, no matter how bad you thought they were, there will always captioning sponsored by comedy central captioned by media access g >> stephen: tonight an historic gay marriage decision. michael and stewart decided on a swing band. then is discrimination over in america? i'll tell you if you're not mexican. and my guest, legendary newsman bill moyers, has a new documentary about america's middle class. oh, i love ghost stories. scientists have found a way for paralyzed rats to regain the ability to urinate. finally a solution to the world's deficit of rat urine. this is the colbert report. captioning sponsored by comedy central
( theme song playing ) ( cheers and applause ) >> stephen: welcome to the report. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. good to have you with us. >> stephen, stephen! tephen: thank you, ladies and gentlemen. thank you so much. thank you for joining us. ladies and gentlemen, tonight, of course, we are broadcasting live from the alternative studio i have mounted on the belly of a dirigible sailing high over international waters all to protect us from the hot, sweaty mass of man meat that is no doubt writhing over the face of our once great nation.
jimmy, tell 'em why. >> we begin with this breaking news from the supreme court. doma, the defense of marriage act, ruled unconstitutional. >> doma a law that's been on the books for 17 years has been struck down in a 5-4 ruling which means couples married in one of the states where same-sex marriage is legal will have the rights and protections to are currently provided to opposite-sex married couples under the federal law. >> the defense of marriage act is finally dead and gone. >> stephen: the defense of marriage act is dead. [ cheers and applause ] traditional... like my audience, i clap when i'm afraid. traditional marriage is now as defenseless as a freshman frat pledge about to go through the spanking machine. so straight married people, listen up. if a gay charges your marriage
you're going to want to puff yourself up, make yourself seem bigger, try to frighten it off by talking in a firm, loud voice about pleated denim or jimmy buffet. it's going to be okay. it will scare 'em off. folks, i for one cannot believe the court threw out doma. it was passed in 1996 to guarantee that traditional marriage was between one man and one woman for the sacred purpose of getting bill clinton re-elected. listen, folks, to their so-called judicial reasoning. >> doma is unconstitutional as a deprivation of liberty of persons that is protected under the fifth amendment. oh, please. i find it hard to believe that there are amendments after the second. sounds made up. [ cheers and applause ] you know, folks, you know what
this means. if doma is unconstitutional, that means the constitution is gay. of course, i mean, no real shocker. it was written by a bunch of dudes in wigs and tights in the city of brotherly love. and it calls for a legislature that is bi-cap ral? that's a bit curious. plus look at that aged parchment and fancy calligraphy. looks like a gay wedding invitation. on the back, i bet it asks you to check salmon or vegan paella. that could be national treasure 3. call me, nick cage. worst of all, folks, in settling this gay marriage controversy, they in fact settled nothing. >> the thing about striking down doma is it doesn't affect any state's right to ban or to allow same sex marriage. >> we have marriage rights in california. we've got marriage rights
overall in 12 states and we've got federal marriage rights but we still have unequal recognition of marriages in 38 other states so we do have a very interesting patchwork system. >> stephen: the supremes really screwed the pooch here which i'm sure is also legal now. here's how it works. you're married in new york. you're not married in alabama. what gives? i'm as confused as a freshman frat pledge who really enjoyed that spanking machine. and folks, i am taking the decision on doma extra hard here because i was in such a good mood after yesterday's great decision. >> today the supreme court essentially knocked down one of the pillars of the civil rights movement: it invalidated a key part of the voting rights act, the law enactd in 1965 to stop racial discrimination at the polls. >> at issue was a provision in the act that singled out states with a history of discrimination and voting mostly in the south and required them to get preclearance, approval from the
federal government before changing voting procedures. >> stephen: ladies and gentlemen, as a son of the south from one of the states covered by the preclearance provision of the voting rights act i want to thank the supreme court for finally setting my people free. it was a 5-4 decision with chief justice roberts joined by justices scalia, thomas, alito and deen. now, everybody is better with butter. now, folks, in his decision gutting the voting rights act, chief justice roberts sagely noted something many of us had apparently missed about discrimination saying, quote, nearly fist years later things have changed dramatically. true. for instance, there used to be a voting rights act. but we don't need it now because apparently racism is over. now i can do anything i want and no one can call it racist.
hit it, jimmy. old man ribber, dat old man ribber ♪ ♪ he must know sumtin', but don't say nottin ' ♪ >> stephen: technical difficulties? jimmy, can we get an asian on that, please. of course, folks, not everyone is ready to embrace john roberts the post racial utopia like mean old lady ginsburg who wrote in her hissy fit throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.
oh, don't be such an alarmist. ( applause ) don't be such as an alarmist. i'm sure it will be years before mississippi takes the vote away from damp people. now, thankfully, not everyone is stuck in the past like georgia governor nathan deal, who celebrated the ruling saying, "over the last half century georgia has reformed and our state is is a proud symbol of progress." yes, georgia is a true symbol of racial progress. after all, georgia hasn't had this flag since 2003. so what do these cases have in common? grab a pencil, folks because here it comes. in doma and the voting rights act cases, it was about states' rights, not the people in those states. that's why the first words of the constitution are "we the states." i think it's really hard to read
[ cheers and applause ] >> stephen: welcome back, everybody. now before the commercial break, i told you that the supreme court had struck down the defense of marriage act and then gutted the 1965 voting rights act. who knows what this means? here to tell me what this means, please welcome slate's legal
expert and senior research fellow at yale law school, emily bazelon. emily, good to see you again. emily, with doma struck down, shocker. what happened? explain to the people what prop-8 is. that was a california law doing what? >> it was banning gay marriage in california. it was passed by the voters but has been struck down as unconstitutional by a trial court judge. then that ruling had been upheld by the appeals court. that was the case that came before the supreme court. >> what was their decision in prop-8? >> the supreme court said we don't have the right people in front of us to decide this case. the party, the defenders of proposition don't have standing. we can't decide this case. that means that the trial court's ruling striking down prop-8 >> stephen: everybody has standing in prop-8 because everybody, you know, could get married. you know, and i'm married. why couldn't i defend prop-8 because now doma is dead, my marriage, i think, is in
invalidated. >> no. stephen: i think you're a lesbian now. you're going to be a great one, by the way. >> thank you. your marriage, nothing has changed >> stephen: what are you talking about? there is no santity to anyone's marriage now because now any tom, dick or harry can get married if only two of them do. >> that has nothing to do with the legal status of your marriage. this is about expanding the definition to include more people not contracting it for you >> stephen: let's talk about, there is a mess here though. scalia called this whole argument argle-bargle. is that latin? as scalia points out now that if you get married in new york, legally married in new york but if i go to alabama i'm not married there, right? >> for purposes of federal benefits that might be the case. there is this really interesting set of legal questions, and the obama administration is going to have to figure out what to do. do they extend federal been anies to you when you get married in new york?
only while you live in new york or do you hang on to them when you move to alabama? that's the next chapter that will all be playing out. >> anyway we're going to get the gay toothpaste back in the tube? >> the genie is out of the bottle because it seems highly unlikely that the supreme court would say to the states that have gay marriage, that's a problem. that's unconstitutional. they are clearly moving in the other direction. >> stephen: i think in the doma case that kennedy wrote, write? he's an idiot. okay. but he agreed in the voting rights case. how come he's so smart sometimes? >> well, one common thread of these cases which you talked about earlier is states' rights. and the genius of the gay marriage case of the challenge to doma was the way in which it both asserted the primacy of states and helped out gay people. kennedy went for both of those things. >> stephen: scalia and ginsburg both had scathing dissents on either side.
scalia and ginsburg. do those scathing dissents do they mean anything or is it just sort of an elevated version of an old person writing an angry letter to the editor? >> they can mean something in moral terms, right? like we can look back on a dissent like the one in plessy versus ferguson. that's the old case that said it was okay to have separate but equal. we think about that dissent as correct. so it ends up having kind of moral weight but it doesn't have any legal value. you're right about that >> stephen: is there any way we could turn the gay people and the black people against each other? and make them fight in a sort of thunder dome. and the winner gets the civil rights? >> i don't think so. you know, one thing about this country... >> stephen: you're not sure. it's possible. >> no. [ cheers and applause ] >> no. it's not possible. and the reason is these are
separate matters of civil rights. they get... the supreme court decides each case as it comes before it. there isn't this kind of overarching world in which the litigants meet in some kind of match-up >> stephen: after these two decisions i mean people have said that the gay rights is the new civil rights. fight of our time. are gay people the new black people? if so, can black people get marrieded now? oh, can we take the vote away from gay people? >> black people can definitely get married just like everybody else. >> stephen: i didn't know. no taking away votes from anyone. we don't do that >> stephen: we'll see what happens in the future. emily bazelon from slate. thank you, emily. we'll be right
>> stephen: welcome back, everybody. my guest tonight has a new front line documentary about two middle class families. wow, he talked to both of them. please welcome bill moyers. [ cheers and applause ] thank you very much. bill, good to see you again. thanks for coming back. you have been a broadcast legend for many years. you have 30 emmys. you have nine peabodies. your current show is moyers and company on american public television. and you also have a front line documentary. these are people you've been following since the 1990s, correct?
>> yes, my producers inspired by my wife, it was her idea, had been following these same two families ever since the bread winner in each family, the top bread winner, lost their good factory job. they had been struggling ever since courageously but against great odds to try to find their place in the new global economy. >> stephen: okay. it's called two american families. it airs july 9 at 10:00 p.m. on front line on pbs, correct? >> correct stephen: all right. now why do we need a middle class? do we need one? >> it's where most of us can go stephen: we can go to the upper class or the lower class. there are two other class categories open to americans. >> and that's what's happening. the middle class which is the strength of a democracy because they have economic security and a belief in the future, they believe in democracy, they're falling through the cracks. >> stephen: but the lower class
stays hungry. isn't that what makes america great, people who are striving to have better lives? and the more people we make strive, the stronger our country becomes. >> you'd be surprised how many middle class people are hungry. there are 49 million people in this country using food stamps not because we want to be on welfare but because jobs pay so low that they can't afford a decent meal. they can't afford a decent livelihood. that's what's happening. ( applause ) >> stephen: i for one find it offensive that you would applaud for people not having enough food. sorry. i apologize. okay. but so is this the fault of the people who can't get the job? personal responsibility. bill. personal responsibility. >> that's what the network keeps promoting but it's not the case. it is not the case. you look at these two documentaries on these two families. when they lost their good-paying factory jobs they did everything
they were supposed to do. they worked two shifts and they found themselveses making half of what they were making when they were in the manufacturing business. that wasn't their fault >> stephen: that's evolution. that's the free market. that's the free market. i think the middle class did it themselves. they unionized, they demanded better working conditions. they demanded better pay. and we had no choice but to ship the jobs overseas. that's business though. you understand business. you believe in capitalism. >> i do understand business. that's what's wrong today. you know, the fact of the matter is the capitalist class has... it's like... >> stephen: you're talking about my friends. >> you know, when i was growing up in texas and you were growing up in south carolina we didn't pray, "give me this day my daily bread." that's the law of the jungle. the powerful take what they want and everybody else is left to get what they can. we prayed, "give us our daily bread." >> stephen: the lord's prayer is
an us not an i. give me this day my daily bread. screw the other guy. >> you got it. stephen: there's always time for amendments. >> you know, steve, the basic premise of the american dream is that if you work hard, you can make enough money to have a better life, a good life, and you can make a better life for yourself and your children. that doesn't exist anymore. my friend jim hightower, the populist in texas says the real question is not why so many people fall through the cracks. the real question is why are there are so many cracks? >> stephen: can we talk about one other thing? you work for l.b.j. you were there when the voting rights act was passed in 1965. >> in the room. stephen: what do you think he would say to the supreme court for their decision yesterday and keep in mind this is a family show. >> you know what he would say? he doesn't understand why
clarence thomas who would not be on the supreme court if it had not been for the voting rights act pulled the ladder up after him >> stephen: clarence thomas being on the supreme court and barack obama being in the white house proves we don't need the voting rights act anymore. >> no it doesn't stephen: once the river bed is dry, once the river bed is dry, you can pull down the dam. >> and that's what they're trying to do >> stephen: do you think that congress can pass another voting rights act. how hard was it the first time. >> very difficult. when that decision came down yesterday you know who i was thinking of, john lewis who was beaten almost to death in 1961 on the freedom ride who was almost beaten to death on the bridge between selma and montgomery when they were fighting for voting rights. i thought of all those now forgotten martyrs, young black men and women who died fighting for voting rights. i thought of a man beaten two or three times. i thought of all of those guys
who stood up so that everyone in this country irrespective of race, religion, creed, income, we're all eke quul in that voting booth i thought of them. it was a betrayal of their martyrdom that this court said it's going to be okay for you to go back and try to put discriminatory laws against voting in different places. they tried last year. you know that. you tawgd about it on the show. the voter i.d., the other efforts to disqualify voters at the polls. they're now encouraged to do that. the supreme court has said go and do likewise >> stephen: again if it doesn't work out, if there is still discriminatory racial discriminatory action at the polls to try to disenfranchise black people or latinos or anyone else, we'll just bring l.b.j. back from the grave. >> and martin luther king who said the long arc of history tends towards justice. in time the racists in the south -- and they're still there, in your state of south carolina and my state of texas -- they will be overcome by the sheer weight of numbers of people who are not, blacks