Chuck Schumer credits Jon Stewart as a key strategist behind the push for a permanent 9/11 fund. But if you ask Stewart, the driving force was a construction worker from Nesconset, Long Island, who called Mitch McConnell an asshole on television—and got him to go along anyway.
The man is John Feal, who had his foot crushed at Ground Zero in September 2001. He went on to spend the next 18 years fighting, first against a system that failed to work for him, and then for other survivors, responders, and victims whom U.S. officialdom seemed intent on forgetting, regardless of their hashtags and bumper stickers.
Feal would call many other people assholes and worse along the way, angering even friends. But the way he saw it, a political system that couldn’t move to respond to the responders who gave everything to restore America needed to be kicked. A man who now has half a left foot proved to be the right one to do it.