'Daily Show' the latest in line of satirists taking aim at NC - WNCN: News, Weather

'Daily Show' the latest in line of satirists taking aim at NC

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British comedian John Oliver, filling in for Jon Stewart on the "The Daily Show," targeted North Carolina's voter I.D. law. (Comedy Central) British comedian John Oliver, filling in for Jon Stewart on the "The Daily Show," targeted North Carolina's voter I.D. law. (Comedy Central)

Enacting new abortion regulations, requiring a photo I.D. to vote, cutting raises for teachers, and capping the sales tax on jets and yachts -- these are just a few of the measures passed by the General Assembly catching the attention of national media.

In recent months, North Carolina has become a target for comedians, satirists and writers for the new bills that have been passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.

In fact, just three days after being skewered by Bill Maher on his HBO series "Real Time with Bill Maher," North Carolina and its drift to the right became the target of British comedian John Oliver as he filled in for Jon Stewart on the Comedy Central series "The Daily Show."

On Monday, while discussing the voter I.D. bill and its necessity in a state where voter fraud accounted for 0.00174 percent of the ballots in 2012, Oliver asked, "What problems are you trying to solve? Why are you doing this?"

Further targeting the voter I.D. legislation, Oliver pointed to the law's provisions that reduce the early voting period and eliminate same-day voter registration. He added, "It doesn't stop there, it also places all voting booths on buoys that are only accessible by yacht."

"After a North Carolina legislative session like this, I think the big take-away here might be: Your move South Carolina," Oliver joked. "You thought you had craziest Carolina all sewn up with your runaway governors … but you may be about to lose the war of northern regression."

The legislation (H.B. 589) establishing a voter I.D. requirement was presented to McCrory on July 29 and awaits his signature.

Voter I.D. isn't the only measure caught in the crosshairs of comedians. Previously, political satirist Stephen Colbert gave a "Tip of the Hat" to the state's gun rights bill on his Comedy Central program "The Colbert Report."

In July, Colbert said, "Their Republican-controlled state legislature is turning North Carolina into a conservative Shangri-La."

Specifically, Colbert honed in on a law allowing those with concealed carry permits to take their guns into bars, restaurants and playgrounds.

"That's right, now you can bring guns to playgrounds. And folks, we need them because the monkey bars are well-known Al Qaeda training grounds," Colbert chaffed. "Instead of Duck, Duck, Goose, you can just play Duck, Duck, DUCK!"

But perhaps one of the more scorching cut downs came from Maher, who on Friday likened the state's laws to "every crazy, angry idea your drunk, right-wing uncle mumbles at Thanksgiving."

Maher pointed to McCrory's budget director, Art Pope, who he called "a Koch brother from another mother," as the cause for North Carolina's political shift.

"He's super rich, super anti-union, anti-tax, anti-big government, thinks government should have absolutely no role in helping the less fortunate -- who should earn their money the same way he did, by inheriting it from their dad," Maher said.

Maher went on to say that Pope used his money to "hijack an entire state and impose the laws he wants -- crazy laws that four-fifths of the people there don't want. But it doesn't matter what the people want, it's what Art Pope wants."

While the state's new laws have certainly provided plenty of fodder for comedians, newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post have taken on the state in op-ed pieces.

The New York Times went so far as to title a July 9 editorial, "The Decline of North Carolina," which lambasted lawmakers for "ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents"  and "making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs [by] cutting back sharply on spending for public schools."

In a published response to the editorial, McCrory argued that "North Carolina's new focus on reform is paying off."

"My reforms have stepped on the toes of the political right and the left who are vested in the old ways of doing business," McCrory wrote. "But in my 14 years as mayor of Charlotte, I learned that it didn't matter whether a good idea came from a Republican or a Democrat. What mattered was whether it solved a problem and did so at a cost taxpayers could afford."

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake) added, "In tax treatment favorability, our package that passed took us up 20 points from 44th best to about 16th best, all in one year."

Challenging North Carolina's abortion regulations, The Washington Post's editorial board called the state's abortion law a "sham" on July 7, pointing out that "in pretending to promote safety, the actual accomplishment of these amendments would be to place an undue burden on women seeking abortions."

Economist and editorial columnist Paul Krugman also blasted North Carolina in a June 30 op-ed piece that ran in The New York Times. In his opinion piece, Krugman said the state's lawmakers had declared "war on the unemployed" when they "sharply cut aid to the unemployed."

The riffs come as Raleigh-based polling operation Public Policy Polling found that in July McCrory has his lowest approval rating since taking office at 40 percent, which is down 15 points from June. His disapproval rating is 49 percent.

The approval rating for the job Republicans have done running the state government is only at 35 percent, with 55 percent of voters disapproving.

Still, McCrory says he is not surprised that his approval rating, and says he is more surprised that his approval is as high as it is.

"We've had a big decline," McCrory acknowledged last month. "But listen, I'm shocked they're that high because we're stepping on the toes of the status quo."

But not all national media are attacking the state's new policies and using the Old North State as a political playground. In a July 19 Wall Street Journal editorial, columnist and economist Stephen Moore sided with the GOP on its tax reform legislation, asking the question, "What are liberals of all stripes so angry about in North Carolina?"

"To their credit, [Senate Majority Leader Phil] Berger and his fellow GOP lawmakers have passed a pro-growth plan that will slash the state personal income tax rate to 5.75 percent from 7.75 percent by 2015; cut the corporate tax to 5 percent from 6.9 percent; and eliminate the state estate tax," Moore wrote.

He continued, "All of this will spur growth and job creation. Yet unions and others on the left pummel the plan as a giveaway to the rich."

Forbes also came out in support of North Carolina's tax reform in a July 16 piece entitled "Three New Tax Reasons To Retire To North Carolina." The piece praised the tax plan for lowering income tax rates to a flat rate, abolishing the state estate tax and continuing to exempt Social Security income from state taxation.

Stam said he is focusing on the more favorable headlines in media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

"That's what business leaders are going to look at, what the business papers say," Stam said. "Not what the looney left says in downtown Manhattan."

"In comedy, you don't really have to fact-check anything," Stam said with a chuckle. "Eventually, that kind of comedy wears a little thin."

WNCN reporter Sean Maroney contributed to this report.



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