Comedian Jon Stewart has a message for any down-trodden Obama critics who watched the President survive several potential political scandals from his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the birther controversy: “Merry Christmas.”
The host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” was referring to the growing questions around a massive “suspect” loan guarantee the Energy Department made to a now-bankrupt solar company, Solyndra, under the Obama administration – a story ABC News’ Brian Ross Investigative Unit first reported in March.
Told in his signature sarcasm-laced commentary over a myriad of news reports, Stewart devoted an eight minute opening segment of Thursday night’s show to Solyndra, calling it the inaugural installment of a new series called “That Custom-Tailored Obama Scandal You Ordered Is Finally Here”.
Solyndra, a California-based company that produces solar panels, was the poster-child for the Obama administration’s green energy program until it collapsed in bankruptcy in late August. Two years before, the Department of Energy appeared to rush to give the company a $535 million federal loan guarantee, without waiting for final copies of outside reviews of the deal meant to protect the taxpayers’ money.
“Maybe their hearts were in the right place and they bet on the wrong horse,” said Stewart. “It’s not like there’s any damning evidence they knew in advance this horse was, in fact, a donkey.”
“The Daily Show” then played news clips featuring emails, obtained by ABC News, which revealed the administration had directly monitored the loan process, even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved.
“You know, stories about incompetence in government are only going to get you so far though. For this to truly become weapons-grade political fodder, you’re going to need incompetence with more than just a whiff of sinister cronyism,” Stewart said.
After the leading comment, Stewart played clips from “World News With Diane Sawyer” in which ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported a major Obama donor, George Kaiser, was not only a primary investor in Solyndra, but had visited the White House no less than four times before the loan’s final approval.
Thursday, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney addressed Kaiser’s visits, telling ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper the meetings were about “charitable efforts” and not about the loan. Kaiser has also said he did not seek any political influence in the loan process.
Stewart closed the segment with what he called “the most ironic word[s]” about the whole story, courtesy of Joe Biden during a video-chat on the same day as a new Solyndra plant opened.
“Once your facility opens, there will be about 1,000 permanent new jobs here at Solyndra and in the surrounding business community and hundreds more to install your growing output of solar panels throughout the country,” Biden said. “It’s important. It’s important because these jobs are permanent jobs.”
When Solyndra shuttered, 1,100 people lost their jobs.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, the FBI and the Department of the Treasury have each opened investigations into the Solyndra deal.