"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart took several sharp stabs at the growing Libor scandal on Wednesday night, equating the bankers that manipulated the interbank lending rate with the villains of a "Da Vinci Code"-type thriller.
"You know, there are all these conspiracy theories about the world's financial system being controlled by six Illuminati members in the basement of the Vatican," Stewart said, before waiting a beat. "It's actually just sixteen London lunch buddies."
The opening segment of Stewart's show on Wednesday was devoted to the Libor scandal, in which big banks are facing allegations of manipulating how they set the London interbank offered rate. Revelations about Barclays' participation in the manipulation cost Chief Executive Bob Diamond his job this month, and regulators are looking into the behavior at several other big banks, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (NYSE: C).
A graphic on "The Daily Show" Wednesday referred to the Libor scandal as "International Banking Conspiracy Actuality 37." But before Stewart could delve into its implications, he had to explain just exactly what Libor is.
His first facetious guess: "The percentage of money that must be set aside for government workers' retirement accounts, that have slowed growth."
Then he got sillier: "The mythical half wild boar/half lion that was rumored to have killed Achilles' brother Jimmy the Greek."
But when Stewart finally explained to his viewers that Libor is the rate that banks use to lend to each other, he started to work up his outrage: "Libor becomes the benchmark for really all money lending on, let's say, Earth."
He later exclaimed, "Bankers! Never trust anything that's rhyming with 'wankers.'"
We only wish he had devoted some time to eviscerating those gushy Barclays' trader emails.