Late night TV hosts capitalize on testy Senate hearing

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Late-night television hosts seized on the near altercation between Sen. Markwayne Mullins (R-Okla.) and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien during a Senate hearing in their opening monologues Tuesday night. 

Mullins, a trained mixed martial arts fighter, challenged O’Brien to fight during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, after confronting him over a series of tweets where the union president called the senator a  “clown” and a “fraud.”  

“You want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults, we can finish it here,” Mullins said during the hearing. 

“OK, that’s fine. Perfect,” O’Brien replied. 

“You want to do it now?” Mullin asked. “Stand your butt up then.” 

After Mullin jumped out of his seat, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the committee chair, urged him to sit back down and reminded him he was a U.S. senator.

During his opening monologue, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host Jimmy Kimmel called the altercation between Mullins and O’Brien “U.F.C.-SPAN,” joking about Sanders’ intervention.

“Grandpa Bernie is about to turn this car around, and then nobody is going to Six Flags,” Kimmel said.

“That isn’t the first time Bernie Sanders was forced to play the role of peacemaker. You know, when he was originally elected to the Senate, he tried to convince Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton to hug it out, and that didn’t work, either,” Kimmel added, referencing the 1804 deadly duel between Alexander Hamilton and then-Vice President Aaron Burr. “That didn’t end well at all.” 

In his own take, “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert said about the incident: “If there’s going to be a fight, I’d like to warn that senator: You look pretty big, but, historically, people who take on the Teamsters end up with season tickets to Giants Stadium … underneath the end zone.” 

Actress and comedian Leslie Jones poked fun at Mullin’s name during a guest appearance on “The Daily Show”. 

“I knew this dude was trouble from the moment I heard his name, Markwayne, all one word,” she said. “His parents — his parents didn’t even love him enough to pick one single name for him. They just shoved two names together and called it a day.”

“‘Calm down, Markwayne,’ isn’t some [expletive] I want to hear on C-SPAN — it’s what you hear when you watch an episode of ‘Cops,’” Jones added. 

The Mullins-O’Brien altercation was among a few fiery incidents that played out on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) accused former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of elbowing him in a Capitol hallway, which McCarthy denied.

Also, Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.)  and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) got into a heated exchange during a House hearing, where Comer said that Moskowitz looked like a “Smurf.”

“Gargamel was very angry today,” Moskowitz said in a post on X after the hearing, referencing the main villain of the Smurfs universe.

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