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ISSUE 118 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/24/2004

Daily dose of levity:Stewart, company make news more fun

By Megan Sutherland
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 24, 2004

Living in rural Minnesota and attending a small liberal arts school can certainly make it difficult to keep up with the events of the outside world. After my freshman year, I went home and started watching TV again.

I suddenly realized that I would be a perfect jury pool candidate; I had been sequestered on a hill in Minnesota and had no media induced bias. Its easy to get lost in the infamous Olaf Bubble and forget that we live in a country facing monumental decisions in terms of foreign policy, economics and civil liberties.

Though The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on the air for a number of years, I only recently realized that it was a program worth taking time for. It is a show that undeniably favors the left, but does not employ the sometimes over the top antics of people like Michael Moore.

Instead, the tone is kept cynical and witty without isolating those whose political compass differs from the shows writers. Despite the fact that laughs often come at the expense of conservatives, the commentary Stewart presents serves as a persuasive argument for whatever hypocrisy he is highlighting.

The Daily Show is often self-deprecating and dismissive of itself as a news source, yet there is actually a serious backbone of sincere criticism within its comedic edges.

In one recent episode, Stewart showed a video of Vice President Dick Cheney denying he had ever claimed al-Qaida and Saddam Husseins government were linked and had met with one another prior to Sept. 11.

Oh, really? Stewart asked with a smirk on his face that faded into a clip of Cheney saying it was pretty well confirmed that the two groups had met and were probably allies (implying a link between the two that would justify the Iraq war).

With that, Stewart chimed in, "Excuse me Mr. Vice President, but I have to inform you that your pants are on fire."

Joking aside, the undercurrent behind such segments points the finger at the authority figures and challenges their willingness to be truthful and consistent.

With the presidential election approaching, The Daily Show has turned its focus to John Kerry and President George W. Bush, welcoming numerous notable Republicans and Democrats as guests.

Recently, Kerry stopped by and took the opportunity to laugh at the absurdity of attacks against him for his service in Vietnam. His appearance on the program helped him begin to shake his stiff, somewhat bland image.

Even with the shows liberal inkling, conservatives who agree to sit down with Stewart are treated with respect, despite the difference in ideals that exists. Members of Bushs staff have stopped by and had the opportunity to respond to controversies, as have conservatives like Pat Buchanan.

For college students and others who dont have the time to investigate every claim and counterclaim that politicians exchange, Stewart and The Daily Show provide a pre-packaged political brunch that is enough to get you thinking, but light enough to have a good laugh and enjoy yourself.

Its popularity lies in the fusion of comedy wrought from glaring hypocrisy and stupidity. While Nightline anchorman Ted Koppel expressed disappointment that "a lot of television viewers  more & than [hes] comfortable with get their news from Stewarts program, the important fact is that people who may not typically sit down and watch a news program are inadvertently being exposed to the latest political issues or world news.

It may not be The New York Times, but The Daily Show is an entertaining way to both relax and laugh at the sheer stupidity that often pervades American politics.

Staff writer Megan Sutherland is a junior from The Woodlands, Texas. She majors in English and history.

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