Episode 69: Banana Republicans

In what should have been a fun sixty-ninth episode of The Latest, we instead reflect on the domestic terrorist coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol.

The Latest with Greg Ott
The Latest with Greg Ott
Episode 69: Banana Republicans


In the mid-2010s, I performed Christmas-themed comedy shows in and around Washington D.C. that featured hard-hitting social and political satire, with scenes that genuinely explored whether or not it’s good to give bad gifts around the holidays and what the effect might be if a spelling error mixed up “Santa” and “Satan.”  

One year, a Texas congressman offered some of us the opportunity to take a tour of the capitol complex — and in order to observe the House of Representatives, I had to present a timed ticket, remove my jacket, empty my pockets, surrender my phone, pass through multiple magnenometers, and sign a sworn affidavit stating that Carolina-style barbecue sauce is inferior to Stubb’s.

Among the bustling congressional staffers, members of the media, and others hoping just to get a glimpse of where Jerry Nadler fills up his water bottle, 

I got the sense around Capitol security that if I made too sudden of a move when reaching for an Altoid, I’d have my passport revoked and be subjected to an immediate tax audit. 

What stuck out to me during yesterday’s domestic terror attack on the U.S. capitol wasn’t just that the insurrectionists were upgraded to the TSA PreCheck line — it’s obvious to anyone with or without astigmatism to see that disability activists and Black Lives Matter protesters get carted off and beaten for protesting unjust and inhumane policies, while an army of white, bearded, gas-station seditionists get fist-bumps by traitor uniformed officers who wish they’d had the foresight to submit a phony sick day. 

It was that the latest reboot from the Confederacy Extended Universe didn’t seem to want anything other than abject terror. 

They didn’t storm the capitol in the name of taxation, or civil rights, or controlling the pandemic on its deadliest day yet.  They took selfies, swiped souvenirs, and left behind a trail of unignited explosives solely in the name of the Celebrity Apprentice, who appears to support two simultaneous goals: snuffing out make-believe shadowy groups secretly controlling the world that we’ve seen in documentaries like The Skulls, and enriching himself and his family in an effort to offset the costs of two generations of botched plastic surgeries.

These people aren’t for anything; they’re against everything.

“Don’t tell me to wear a mask; get that vaccine away from me; I’ll say whatever I want. I’m not going anywhere because It’s my constitutional right to carry a weapon of war into a Chipotle on my god-given lunch break.”

Before the election, someone I’ve known since I was five — I’ll only identify him as the letter P, as he’s Q-adjacent — asked to be removed from a group thread I keep with my childhood friends because it’s less work than taking the time to meet new people as an adult. 

It’d been clear since the pandemic started that P had been sucked into the maniac rabbit hole, sharing links to the “Plandemic” conspiracy video, and questioning whether or not news organizations like the Associated Press and PBS were any more accurate or less biased than whatever blog he’d stumbled upon after typing in a URL that he’d read on a bumper sticker. 

The reason that P cut off contact is that while everyone else saw what is as clear as day — that liars, grifters, and cynics are unspooling the fabric of society one thread at a time — P’s preference was to remain in the dark so he could pick at the loose strands. 

I hate the way that I sound on this program when I say, “we need to keep in mind that these people are our friends and neighbors,” as if this were my writing packet for “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.”

But I’m very serious — these traitors, terrorists, and white supremacists, are our friends, neighbors, and family members.

After 9/11, we spent billions of dollars to listen in on “Al Qaeda chatter” to prevent future terrorist attacks. How much is earmarked to surveil your weird uncle’s Facebook page?

Facebook’s own research has found that 64% of the time, people join extremist Facebook groups because they’re recommended to them on the platform, reducing the path to radicalization down to the same one-click convince as ordering a pair of sheets. 

Days after the election, a family member who’s changed their allegiance to the House of Newsmax repeatedly denied that Biden had actually been victorious, only stating “well, we’ll see what happens.” 

It’s not just that we’re living in a failed state — we can’t even state that we’ve failed.