Sheldon Adelson and the Republican Party

In preparation for the 2016 presidential election, many potential Republican candidates have begun seeking the support of wealthy mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire and gambling mogul who pledged over $90 million in 2012 to candidates whose views on Israel hewed closest to his own. On the 31 March episode of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart satirized this developing relationship in a segment titled “Absolve and Report—Super Donor Sheldon Adelson.”

Stewart highlighted a speech that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave before the Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson’s Venetian Las Vegas casino on 29 March. In it, Christie described a helicopter ride “from the occupied territories” that left him contemplating “the military risk that Israel faces every day.” Despite a positive response to his speech in general, the crowd stirred at the phrase “occupied territories.” Later in the day, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, confronted Christie, saying “at minimum you should call it disputed territory.” Christie then met with Adelson privately, explaining that he misspoke and that his remarks were not meant to be a statement of policy.

Stewart, who averaged around two million (predominantly young) viewers per night throughout 2013, poked fun at Christie’s speedy apology, pointing out that the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be occupied territory and showing a clip of former president George W. Bush using the term. Presented below is a video of the segment and an excerpted transcript of Stewart’s ensuing conversation with “Senior Zionist Billionaire Correspondent” Samantha Bee.

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  Stewart: For more, we turn to Senior Zionist Billionaire Correspondent Samantha Bee. Sam, thanks for joining us here. We appreciate it. Sam, let me ask you, uh, this is crazy. If Sheldon Adelson doesn’t approve of a term as widely accepted as “occupied territories,” what does he think is an acceptable term for that area?

  Bee: Oh, you know. Sheldon’s not picky.He’s open to a number of different names. Um “Outer Israel,” “Israel in Waiting,” “Palestinian Terror Emporium.”

  Stewart: Yeah, listen, those are not the most objective terms.

  Bee: Oh, and “occupied territories” is fair? I mean, that clearly suggests territories that are being occupied, perhaps by some foreign military or countless foreign settlements.

  Stewart: [pause] You just described the West Bank. That is exactly what is happening.

  Bee: Okay, okay, Daily Show with Yasir Arafat, I got ya’. No, I get it.

  Stewart: When did the guy who makes Donald Trump’s hair look natural get veto power over every word Republicans say about Israel?

  Bee: No, no, no, not just Israel, Jon. He also wants unions to be called “thug collectives,” offshore tax havens are now “money resorts,” and he does not use a motorized scooter, he practices “extreme sitting.” So rad! I know . . .

  Stewart: I’ll give you that the man is a champion sitter, but how can anyone claimto be a leader if they are bending over backwards to please an eighty-year-old gambling mogul?

  Bee: I’m sorry. He prefers “forty-year-old jackpot facilitator.” So, if you don’t mind …

  Stewart: I just can’t believe that these supposed men of integrity are so willing to change their behavior for money.

  Bee: Oh really, Jon? Then how do you feel about Taco Bell, one of The Daily Show’s major sponsors?

  Stewart: [pause] I think it’s a taste sensation that thinks outside the bun to provide America’s families with a wholesome and nutritious dining experience. [Turns to camera] Taco Bell. Live Más.