Jon Stewart is stepping down as host of The Daily Show, after nearly 17 years of incisive political and media satire.
For most viewers, the show’s must-watch period started with George W. Bush in the White House, and particularly after 9/11. Stewart’s incisive comedy provided a vital antidote to America’s many forehead-slapping moments, as he skewered the inanities coming out of the mouths of politicians and cable news anchors alike.
Stewart’s juiciest political targets were Bush—for whom he developed a series of impersonations, culminating in a weasel-like laugh—and his cabinet, especially vice president Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Watching the clips below, I alternated between loud gales of laughter and queasy flashbacks to what it felt like to live in post-9/11 America. Thank goodness I had Jon Stewart to see me through it.
September 11, 2001
“They said to get back to work. And there were no jobs available for a man in the fetal position under his desk crying—which I would have gladly taken—so I came back here. … Our show has changed, I don’t doubt that. What it’s become, I don’t know.”
A 2002 Bush press conference
Hang in until the Frankenstein impersonation at 1:50. “Aaaaaaaaaaargh…..Old.”
Rumsfeld confuses Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in 2004
“Here’s what’s amazing: Rumsfeld confusing Saddam and Osama is not the most unhinged part of that clip—it’s the deranged ranting.”
2004 post-election coverage
“Next time a Democrat says ‘let every vote count,’ just say yeah, we tried that. That no-workee.”
The 2005 State of the Union
Remember Laura Bush’s anti-gang initiative? No?
Bush on social security
“Some are afraid to touch it, some don’t want to touch it, some provide excuses not to touch it…”
Rob Corddry as a Vice-presidential Firearms Mishap Analyst
In case you somehow forgot, Dick Cheney once shot an old man in the face with a shotgun (take a minute and go watch the Daily Show segment Cheney’s got a gun on Comedy Central’s site, which is a must-see if only for Stewart’s barely-contained glee and momentary glance towards heaven in thanks at the comedic bounty he has been sent.)
After Stewart’s intro, the show pivoted to correspondent Rob Corddry, who along with Stewart turned the whole kerfuffle into an Iraq War parable.