Local Politics

Friday, Jul 26 2013 05:42 PM

Perez is no #&%@*&, the Daily Show concludes

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    A screen grab from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart's July 25 episode featuring Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

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    A screen grab from Comedy Central's The Daily Show's July 25th episode's second segment with Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

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    A screen grab from Comedy Central's The Daily Show's July 25th episode's second segment with Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Life is a mix of disappointment and laughter sometimes.

The day after Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez conceded defeat in the 16th Senate District race, she was featured Thursday on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a Comedy Central "news" show.

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"Reporter" Aasif Mandvi interviewed Perez about why, when the chairman of the national Democratic Party offered in January to support her in a run for the congressional seat now held by David Valadao, she turned the opportunity down.

"There is remarkable gridlock in D.C.," Perez said. "I don't want to be at a place where I have a good, fancy title but I'm not actually able to deliver for people."

Perez has a scandal to hide, Mandvi guessed.

"Absolutely not," Perez said.

"Drug use?" he asked.

"No," Perez said.

"You're not a citizen," Mandvi said.

"I'm absolutely a citizen, and proud," Perez said.

The Daily Show piece points a satirical finger at the U.S. House of Representatives, putting forward the theory that the only people interested in running for a job in the notoriously grid-locked legislative body are...well...we can't actually print the word they use.

It starts with an A.

The Comedy Central crew also interviewed former Republican Congressman Steve Latourette for the piece.

"You'd have to be crazy to run for Congress," Latourette told Mandvi. "The leadership in the House is more concerned about gaming the other party so that they can be in charge than they are in actually accomplishing anything. Potential candidates shouldn't be motivated by accomplishing anything."

The show cuts back to Perez, with Mandvi trying to convince her to run for Congress.

"I want to talk. I want to find solutions," Perez said. "It's not the right place for me."

"Congress is not that bad. All you have to manage to do is kill that thing inside of you that thinks and cares and you're good to go," Mandvi said.

Perez said the hugely popular Comedy Central show contacted her campaign to inquire about an interview for the piece following stories in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times detailing her decision not to run for Congress.

She talked extensively with people from the show during two telephone conversations where her pre-conceptions of The Daily Show were set aside.

"I had always seen them as a comedy show -- an intelligent comedy show," Perez said.

But the phone conversations were "surprisingly very serious."

The show's staff were consummate professionals and very concerned about getting things right, she said.

"They were very laser-focused on criticizing the problems with Congress," Perez said.

A 10-person crew came to Bakersfield on June 26 and spent the day with Perez, watching as her campaign team filmed a television commercial for her 16th Senate District race.

Then they spent "a couple of hours" doing the interview with her and making sure they got the takes right.

"What I had not expected, and what jolted me most, was the low opinion they had about politicians," Perez said. "About halfway through, I realized that they were talking about me, too."

She said she found the experience of being a part of the piece "profound" and took some insight from the perspective the crew provided.

Politicians, she said, do get caught up in the political game and can, over time, forget the primary point of being in office -- getting things done for people.

"It helped me think about the role I play," Perez said.

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