After six minutes-plus of monologue on Tuesday, Sept. 19, dedicated to health care policy during the taping of his nightly show, a video of Jimmy Kimmel blasting Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has gone viral. In the widely-shared video, Kimmel takes issue with Cassidy over the senator’s introduction of the latest GOP effort to overhaul Obamacare. The bill being used to achieve that effort, Kimmel says, proves Cassidy “lied” on national television.
A few months ago after my son had open heart surgery, which was something I spoke about on the air, a politician, a senator named Bill Cassidy from Louisiana was on my show and he wasn’t very honest.
Kimmel was later much more blunt about his opinion of Cassidy’s sponsorship of the bill. The host said,
This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.
The “lie” to which Kimmel refers occurred back in May, when Sen. Cassidy appeared on CNN to discuss alternatives for healthcare reform. During that appearance, the senator said any repeal bill that the Senate passes would have to succeed what he called the “Jimmy Kimmel test.”
Cassidy told CNN anchor John Berman,
I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life … even if they go over a certain amount?
Here’s a clip showing Cassidy’s May appearance of note:
Cassidy would later go on to tout the merits of the Jimmy Kimmel test in other interviews, including one on Kimmel’s show itself. Just days before, Kimmel had been at the center of another viral moment, in which he got emotional while talking about his young son’s open heart surgery. During that particular monologue, Kimmel endorsed keeping Obamacare, which at the time had been a subject of priority for the Republican-controlled Congress.
When Cassidy appeared on Kimmel’s show, shortly after the House passed a repeal bill, the senator said he agreed that — as Kimmel put it — “every American, regardless of income, should be able to get regular checkups, maternity care, etc., all of those things that people who have health care get and need.”
Now, months later in September, Kimmel has come out strongly against Graham-Cassidy, the repeal bill recently introduced by Cassidy and fellow Republican Lindsey Graham, which Kimmel says betrays what Cassidy told him in May. He said,
We want quality, affordable health care. Dozens of other countries figured it out. So instead of jamming this horrible bill down our throats, go pitch in and be a part of that. I’m sure they could use a guy with your medical background. And if not, stop using my name, O.K.? Because I don’t want my name on it. There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It’s called the lie detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.
Here’s Kimmel’s full monologue on health care from Tuesday night, Sept. 19:
For that monologue, Kimmel faced skepticism from critics who questioned — among other things — whether a discussion about complicated health care policy should be taking place on a late night show.
Kimmel anticipated that criticism before it even came. During the monologue, he said,
I never imagined I would get involved in something like this, this is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise is eating pizza, and that’s really about it. But we can’t let them do this to our children, and our senior citizens, and our veterans, or to any of us.
The host later added,
Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know: I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to. My family has health insurance we don’t have to worry about this, but other people do. So, you can shove your disgusting comments where your doctor won’t be giving you a prostate exam once they take your health care benefits away.
Republican senators in support of Graham-Cassidy are looking to pass the bill before Sept. 30, at which point the deadline for repeal Obamacare via a 50-vote threshold ends.