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Tuesday night, Lewis Black appeared on The Daily Show with his Back in Black segment, and gave an uproarious monologue about all of the out and out lies that are showing up in campaign ads this year, including the infamous "you didn't build that" statement by President Obama that the Romney campaign latched on to. I thought it was brilliant and would help President Obama fight the onslaught of Romney "you didn't build that" speeches and ads.

Naturally, since the segment appeared just the night before, it was surprising to see the "you didn't build that" grammar gaffe featured in the opening segment of Wednesday night's episode of The Daily Show. Jon Stewart was obviously annoyed by the way Romney has been making it the centerpiece of his campaign against President Obama.

Stewart began the segment with a grammar lesson over the difference between using that and those: "[Y]ou create confusion here by using the demonstrative singular pronoun that instead of the plural anaphor those, which of course if you're referring to the antecedent, "roads and bridges."

Then Stewart admonished conservative pundits, (especially Steve Doocy of Fox News, referring to him as "a disingenuous, Muppet-shaped, propaganda tool") for making hay over President Obama's grammatical gaffe. Then Stewart wondered if the conservative pundits could get more manipulative? Of course, the answer appeared in short order with a video clip of Brian Kilmeade of Fox News interviewing two little girls who have a lemonade stand and asking them, "How do you feel about the President saying that you needed help to start this business."

Finally, Stewart became serious and directed his comments directly to Mitt Romney:

Mr. Romney, hanging your attack on a person's slight grammatical misstep is what people do in an argument when they're completely f(beep)ed and they know they have no argument.

I know you, Mitt Romney, would like this election to be a stark choice for the American people between Obama's vision of a Marxist, state-run, oligarchy, and your simple ode to the freedom our founders envisioned. 'Cause given that choice, you would ... come really close.

But ... you're not running against this guy (shows picture of a scarecrow), Strawman Johnson. There are absolutely differences in economic policy between you and the President that you could use to have a substantive discussion about our economy that might even be productive for our future well being. But that discussion is a matter of degrees, not a matter of fundamental, diametrically opposed world views.

Here's how I know. Mr. President and Mr Romney argue it out.

Video clips, altering between President Obama and Mitt Romney:

President Obama: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.

Mitt Romney: I know that you recognize that a lot of people help you in a business.

President Obama: There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.

Mitt Romney: Your school teachers.

President Obama: Government research created the Internet, so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Mitt Romney: There are a lot of people in government who help us, and allow us to have an economy that works.

President Obama: Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Mitt Romney: People who build roads.

President Obama: If you've got a business.

Mitt Romney: You really couldn't have business if you didn't have those things.

President Obama: You didn't build that.

Mitt Romney: Take that, Mr. President.

Of course, you really have to watch the entire segment to appreciate what a wonderful job Jon Stewart did calling out the conservative pundits and Mitt Romney, as well as his campaign. However, if you are unable to watch the video, I have transcribed the entire opening segment, and you can find it below the fleur-de-orange. I have a feeling we'll be seeing clips from this segment on MSNBC and CNN, but since MSNBC is broadcasting the Olympics during the daytime hours, please do what you can to share it with friends, family and coworkers via email and social media.

Democalpyse 2012:
Do We Look Stupid? Don't Answer That Edition.


Part 1



Part 2


Complete Transcript

Let's begin tonight with our election coverage: "Democalpyse 2012, Do We Look Stupid? Don't Answer That Edition." We touched on this a little bit last night. There's an old saying in Washington. The gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. More recently, President Barack Obama made a new kind of gaffe, when he told the truth, on purpose.
Video of President Obama speaking: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
Ah, so the argument, made apparently in a comedy club of hecklers, that your success also owes some debt to the system and infrastructure that was created to support your endeavor. And that the debt that it owes is what we call ... taxes. That's supposed to go back into the system. A pretty unremarkable observation about life in this society. Here's the gaffe:
Video of President Obama speaking: Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? No! (laughter) Did you? What? President Obama, are you saying that people who built businesses, they didn't build that, that business, that? Are you inexplicably and unprecedentedly in the middle of a rather banal populist run delivering a nut punch to small business owners? Is that your point, sir?
Video of President Obama speaking: The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Oh, that's your point. Hmmm. Here's a tip. When someone says, "the point is," the next thing they say, usually nine times out of ten, is the point. But I see what happened here. By using the phrase "you didn't build that," you create confusion here by using the demonstrative singular pronoun that instead of the plural anaphor those, which of course if you're referring to the antecedent, "roads and bridges." I hope ....

Oh, oh (lifting self from chair) my butt just gave itself a wedgie. Oh my God! My butt is giving myself a grammar wedgie. Why, why would you do that? But I'm ... you're an inanimate and I'm wearing you. Why would you do that?

It is true though, especially in politics, never say that because the singular demonstrative pronoun points too specific a finger. Always use the plural those. Then you don't get in trouble. Instead of saying this.

Video of President Clinton speaking: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
See. That specific woman who could presumably be found in (Totu? inaudible). What you want to do is say "I did not have sex with those women." Those women! That ... wait. No, that's ... Okay, that's a bad example. Anyway, you'd have to be a real shyster.

Given the surrounding context of Obama's remarks, including his "the point is," discussion, to make willful hay out of his rather common singular plural demonstrative pronoun snaf... OW! (grabbing chest) my shirt's giving me a nurple. What? Why are you doing that? (laughter) I'm being bullied by my ...

Anyway, I wonder which way the conservative pundits went with it?

On Screen Video Plays several clips from conservative pundits:

Fox News Male Anchor: What's your reaction when you hear the president say it's not your hard work that made you successful, it's the government?

Male Anchor: What's your reaction when you hear the president say it's not your hard work that made you successful, it's the government?

Bay Buchanan: There's no question in my mind, he does not respect small business owners.

Male Pundit: Then he turns around and dismisses the free enterprise system.

Male Commenter: I mean, this is just grade school Marxism that he's uttering.

Yes, grade school Marxism, or as your second grade teacher might have referred to it: sharing.

Guys! He clearly said before, "you didn't build that." He was talking about building roads and bridges. It was in the speech. You really want to hang your entire campaign on a willful, out of context, misunderstanding?

Video of Steve Doocy, of Fox News, speaking: The President has been out there. He's now got a political ad that is up in a number of the swing states, where he says, "You know, I've been taken out of context. Don't believe what Mitt Romney's saying." Alright. Here's what the President said that got him into trouble with the Republicans.
Alright, good on you, Steve Doocy. I made fun of you in the past as being a bit of a tool, (laughter) a thropish, throw pillow of misinformation (laughter). Disingenuous, Muppet-shaped, propaganda tool (laughter). My apologizes. Now you're going to play the unedited, in context, showing the line immediately before the "you didn't build that" line, the one about the roads and bridges. So, thank you.
Video of Steve Doocy, of Fox News, speaking: Here's what the President said that got him into trouble with the Republicans.
Video of President Obama speaking: If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

(obvious splice in tape)

If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.

(Looking bewilder, searching around) Where was the middle part about the bridges and roads? You didn't even flash through it. You just had Obama dissolve into dust like a bad CGI vampire. That's not context. That's just different No Context. I think you just might be a disingenuous, Muppet-shaped, propaganda tool, after all. Can you get more manipulative?
Video of Brian Kilmeade of Fox News speaking: Meet the founders of Cool Glass Lemonade, sisters 7-year Clara and 4-year old Eliza Sutton.
(Looking confused and bewildered) Go on?
Video continues ...

Brian Kilmeade: How do you feel about the President saying that you needed help to start this business. And just speak from, speak from within.

Clara: I would say that’s rude because we worked very hard to build this business. But we did have help.

Kilmeade: And your help came from?

Clara: Our help came from our investors, our dad and step-mom, along with other friends and family.

(Holding palm to mouth) Cut the feed! Cut the feed! Cut the feed, Red Eagle! Captain Jammies and Little Princess said they had help. They're going rogue. (laughter)

So, they had help from their families. Literally, big brother.

Look, the campaigns all like to have fun with gaffes ... making a big deal out of a misstatement is a great way to win the news cycle. (In funny voices) "The private sector is doing fine." "I like firing people." "I'll transmit this information for Vladamir." "I
really like firing people, especially poor ones."

But this ain't a gaffe. And Mitt Romney's not having a little fun with it. This deliberate misstating and misrepresentation of Obama's position is now the centerpiece of Romney's entire campaign. He's got signage (shows picture of Romney "We Did Build It" sign), t-shirts (shows image of t-shirts) and this unrelenting ad:

Video of President Obama speaking: If you've got a business, you didn't build that. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. If you've got a business, you didn't build that..
(Pounding fist into forehead) Apply directly to the forehead. Apply directly to the forehead (laughter). We get it.

Mr. Romney, hanging your attack on a person's slight grammatical misstep is what people do in an argument when they're completely fucked and they know they have no argument.

I know you, Mitt Romney, would like this election to be a stark choice for the American people between Obama's vision of a Marxist, state-run, oligarchy, and your simple ode to the freedom our founders envisioned. 'Cause given that choice, you would ... come really close.

But ... you're not running against this guy (shows picture of a scarecrow), Strawman Johnson. There are absolutely differences in economic policy between you and the President that you could use to have a substantive discussion about our economy that might even be productive for our future well being. But that discussion is a matter of degrees, not a matter of fundamental, diametrically opposed world views.

Here's how I know. Mr. President and Mr. Romney argue it out.

Video clips, altering between President Obama and Mitt Romney:

President Obama: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.

Mitt Romney: I know that you recognize that a lot of people help you in a business.

President Obama: There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.

Mitt Romney: Your school teachers.

President Obama: Government research created the Internet, so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Mitt Romney: There are a lot of people in government who help us, and allow us to have an economy that works.

President Obama: Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Mitt Romney: People who build roads.

President Obama: If you've got a business.

Mitt Romney: You really couldn't have business if you didn't have those things.

President Obama: You didn't build that.

Mitt Romney: Take that, Mr. President.

We'll be right back.
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