The Daily Show Blow by Blow

Zell Miller was on the other night. The poster boy for the term “batshit insane” came on the show to hawk his new book, A Deficit of Decency. I’m not sure who I’m more annoyed at, Jon for licking his boots for half the interview, or Miller for complaining about decency on a show that clearly has no regard for the word as he means it.

I respect Jon Stewart, et. al., for having people they disagree with on, people like Zell Miller, but there are times when such appearances stick in my craw. There have been two such times lately, Zell Miller and Bob Dole. Both of those I feel oogy about because of stuff that happened during the recent election. I was particularly put off by seeing Bob Dole on because of a moment during the election–reported on The Daily Show–when Dole jumped on the attack-Kerry’s-war-hero-status bandwagon. This was presented by Stewart as clearly beyond the pale. Kind of a, “Bob Dole used to be a GOP attack dog, but he’s a friend of the show and surely he knows better than to attack a war hero’s recor—DOH!” thing.

I realize it’s sophomoric of me, but after that, and after the nutball way Miller acted at the GOP convention (RNC, whatever you call it), I kind of feel the way you feel when a friend totally stabs you in the back, and you commiserate about it with your other best friend, and then you see that best friend palling it up with the betrayor friend. Maybe sophomoric is too mature a term for that. Let’s just say I can hold a grudge, so it was weird to see Dole let back into the fold, and even weirder to see Jon sucking up to Miller and making his “I wish we lived in a time when you could duel” tirade a dig on Chris Matthews. As if Miller’s reaction–which was by any rational barometer off-the-charts wacky–was a totally logical one given how Chris Matthews can be.

Beyond that, though, I found Miller to be disgusting. I’ve heard him a number of times, pandering to the conservative right wing (the book, after all, has a foreword by Sean Hannity), and the book is, as I said, a diatribe about how America is clearly going to hell, probably because men are getting married on prime time television. So he goes on a show where he is preceded by not one but two horse masturbation jokes. One where the First Lady–the actual First Lady, not an impersonator–makes a joke about her husband jacking off a horse in front of a gala for journalists. The other where Stephen Colbert plays a tape recording of an impersonator carrying the joke further by having the president jack off two horses then bathe in their…what word shall I use? I hate the ‘c’ word…how about…splooge.

Now I found this hilarious, because what can be more funny than a mental image of GWB jacking off a couple of horses, but I find hypocrisy to be utterly sickening. So the fact that Zell Miller then came out to talk about our country’s lack of decency makes me want to throw up. Why do I care what he does? I don’t know. I’d just like it if people who claim to have steadfast beliefs would stop disappointing me. Miller made a half-hearted objection to the equine onanism segment, but if he were really on about decency he would have refused to come out after that, or, more to the point, would not have booked himself on the show. The most indecent thing that happened that night was that he proved that he doesn’t really care about our country’s soul, so much as how rich he can get pandering about it.

The next day my name-sake was on, but I haven’t seen that show yet. I’ll have to wait until the next feeding.

Colbert: After all it was Thomas Jefferson who said “Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.”
Stewart: No, that was Stalin. Thomas Jefferson said he’d “Rather have free press and no government, than a government and no free press.”
Colbert: Well, what else would you expect from a slave-banging, Hitler-loving queer?

-Amanpour

Yup.

In his defense however, John has always softballed his guests while they are on the air. He said as much when Tucker Carlon accused him of sucking up to Kerry. He will take a good dig the next day though.

I can think of only a couple of times where he didn’t. The Al-Quaida Iraq connection guy took a good beating, but even then he was polite. The worst it got was something like, “I’m sorry, but this just strikes me as more bullshit.”

And the second one doesn’t really count, but it was hilarious. Jennifer Love Hewitt promoting the Garfield movie. It didn’t seem to be totally intentional, but he ended up totally trashing her career and the movie. Wish they had that one on the website.

This episode made me a little sad, because it made me realize that they’re all sellouts. Miller (not that I respected him before) for going on a show obviously at direct odds with his values and even the book he was trying to pimp, just to pimp that same book. And Stewart et al. for booking him so they could get buzz and the associated ratings. I would not have been disappointed with Stewart if he had totally lambasted Miller instead of dancing around the “your definition of decency is both subjective and absurd” point, but he did. I had a brief glimmer of hope when Stewart said lack of universal health care was more indecent than rap music, but he didn’t really drive it home.

Miller should get a show and have Stewart on as a guest. Then Jon could feel free to call him a dick and tell him he’s hurting America. :)

So if somebody is on the receiving end of Stewart’s satirical comedy stick, then it’s hypocrisy to have them on the show later on? Even with the liberal bent of the show, he’s going to end up with a short guest list pretty soon.

As far as the the sheer villainy of daring to attack Kerry’s war record goes, let me see… Dole had an arm shot up on the Po in Northern Italy. The junior senator from MA spent four months in Vietnam and left after receiving three questionable “wounds.” Of course the whole thing can be cleared up if the senator were to sign the form he promised to on “Meet the Press” and have the DOD release his records to the public. Quetioning Kerry’s war record and “Hero” status is IMO fair game and Kerry certainly made it one of his selling points. If you don’t like Dole’s ideology that’s fine and reason enough not to want to see him on Stewart’s show.

Remember, Stewart makes fun of the shows where people just yell at each other and don’t really have a back and forth. It would be pretty hypocritical of him to do the same. He could do a better job of presenting his viewpoints, though. He tends to let too much go.

Honestly, in Zell’s case it was more about of what you can actually do with the guy. His fuse is, after all, pretty short. Without keeping things congenial, he would have gotten nowhere.

But I think he did OK with Zell. Zell may have not understood the point Jon was trying to make about some legislation being more indecent than anything Eminem can come up with, but you aren’t going to get anywhere with crazy old man, so no harm in keeping things friendly.

You’re right about Bob Dole, he should definitely have stuck Dole with what he did to Kerry, and more importantly to all vets. It was certainly deserved. Jon did kind of dwell on Dole’s own Purple Heart stuff, maybe he was trying to make him sweat a little. But he failed to put it on the table. Maybe he got a pass for all the times he’d been on the show before. Still, there are some things that shouldn’t pass.

Did I miss something during the campaign season? What did Dole do to all vets? Has there ever been a question whether Dole deserved a purple heart? I can’t believe I missed something like that.

Well he is, you know, a comedy host, rather than, say, a hard hitting journalistic interviewer with a comedy twist.

Besides, he probably figures Maher has the latter angle covered. And while I enjoy Maher’s grilling and nasty cynicism and sarcasm, I enjoy Stewarts more laccadaisical approach a lot more. It’s genuinely funnier in my mind. Plus it keeps him able to get interesting guests; I remember when Maher was on prime time for a while and couldn’t get anyone of interest from the opposite side because they just had no interest in such a one-sided setup.
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[quote=“Vic_Davis”]

Did I miss something during the campaign season? What did Dole do to all vets? Has there ever been a question whether Dole deserved a purple heart? I can’t believe I missed something like that.[/quote]
He diminished the Purple Heart by questioning the validity of its award to Kerry when he had no real evidence to do so. It makes it easier for someone to point at someone who has a PH-- and doesn’t have some lasting aftereffect from the wound to go with it-- and impugn them.

John’s job isn’t to make you guys feel better by sticking it to people you don’t like when they’re directly talking to him, you know. I actually find the “treat guests decently no matter how crazy” thing pretty refreshing.

I think the objection stems from Jon’s reputation for cutting through bullshit via --ironically-- hyperbole and irony. Those are his trademarks and the trademarks of the show. He didn’t do that (much) with Miller, which disappointed some of us.

And he did it for purely partisan reasons. Pretty fucking disgusting.

-Tom

Except he has rarely done this in an interview.

Re: Bob Dole: Dole is a longtime friend of the Daily Show, and was a commentator for the show during the 2000 election. His most recent appearance was six months after his criticism of Kerry, nearly six months after the election, and almost entirely about his new book, which is not about politics at all. Why should Jon have called him on it six months after the fact in a completely unrelated and apolitical interview? To be petty?

Re: Zell Miller: I don’t know what interview you were watching, but in the one I saw, Stewart was openly disagreeing with Miller the entire time, and ended by saying “I think we disagree on everything.” It sounds like you wish he did just sit there and yell at him for ten minutes. That’s very obviously not what the Daily Show is about. For as long as its been largely a political show, the guests have quite frequently been from both sides, and everyone gets treated politely.

No. To be honest. This was an awful, disgusting moment I’m talking about, and at the time Jon was clearly disgusted by it. I just recall thinking, when he was reporting it, “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll see of Dole on the show.” I thought it was a shame too, because I actually like(d) Bob Dole. But the attack was indefensible and clearly, as Tom mentioned, partisan. If Dole wants to play the role of GOP attack dog, good for him, but pissing on Kerry’s war record was beneath him.

For perspective on what I mean, refer to anything that John McCain had to say about the issue.

Well, while the interview I was watching did include the statements you reference, it also included this ridiculous wrap up where Stewart gushed about how much he liked Miller and how he was one of the good ones. Was that in the interview you watched too? Because that’s what I was talking about…the gushing. If it wasn’t in the interview you saw you should ask for your money back.

And no, I didn’t want him to yell at Miller for ten minutes, but pretending the guy was the cat’s pajamas was going a little far. I understand what The Daily Show is about. I love the give and take. I love that people come from both sides; this makes people like my mother want to pay attention when Stewart speaks at their graduation. But Stewart usually strikes a decent balance when he has a guest on that he doesn’t agree with (and I mean in the extreme sense, on big issues); he is polite and funny and clear that they will never go out for a beer together. With Zell Miller I got the sense that he’d be in the green room after the show offering to shine the man’s shoes.

Which was weird.

Incidentally…comedy stick? Vic, really?

Stewart: What about the State of the Union? Did you go to the speech?
John McCain: I had no choice.

-Amanpour

No. To be honest. This was an awful, disgusting moment I’m talking about, and at the time Jon was clearly disgusted by it. I just recall thinking, when he was reporting it, “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll see of Dole on the show.” I thought it was a shame too, because I actually like(d) Bob Dole. But the attack was indefensible and clearly, as Tom mentioned, partisan. If Dole wants to play the role of GOP attack dog, good for him, but pissing on Kerry’s war record was beneath him.[/quote]

I agree. But that was half a year ago, the two guys are friends, and the interview had nothing to do with politics, whatsoever. What’s wrong with letting bygones be bygones?

What I got from the interview was that Stewart genuinely respected him. Which was weird, I agree. But I sure didn’t get any shoe-shining vibe from it.

In my view, Jon respects people who have the guts to stand up and say what they think, whether he agrees with them or not. He virtually said that to Miller at the end of the interview. This is refreshing given 99.9% of the population only “respects” people who share their own opinions exactly, and will lose “respect” for them the moment the other’s view steps outside the conforming norm.

McCain didn’t go for the purple heart thing, but he can’t escape his party:

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/8/30/85953.shtml

“I think these ads are dishonest and dishonorable,” McCain said.

However, he said, Kerry’s prominent role in the anti-war movement after he returned from Vietnam should be questioned. Kerry led a veterans group opposed to the war and, during Capitol Hill testimony, said U.S. soldiers committed atrocities with their commanders’ approval.

“What John Kerry did after the war is very legitimate political discussion,” McCain said.

Note: first time ever Newsmax link!

Christiane Amanpour. Tuesday, May 3, 2005.

The biggest thing I have to say about this episode is that I have to correct something in my post about the Zell Miller episode. It deals with the second joke about our president, where he is jacking off two horses. It seems I missed something in all the bleeping, to wit, in the second joke the president is indeed jacking off only one of the horses. If I hear correctly through the bleep, he’s sucking off the other one.

An important distinction that I wanted to pass on.

Also, Christiane Amanpour is prettier than I remember. There’ve been some not so flattering pictures posted of her here (you’ll have to scroll down a ways because I don’t know how to link to a specific post…sorry), and I don’t know if I’d go so far as Jason and say she’s bonafide hot, but she’s more attractive than I remember.

Oh, and her interview was fine.

There was also a Stephen Colbert bit about some local election where one of the guys running is named Rick James. He keeps getting his signs stolen, and his theory is that it’s because college kids love their Chappelle Show. I thought this was particularly weird/timely/pseudo-poignant given the fact that it just came down that his show isn’t going to make its May 31st premiere date.

The highlight of the segment, besides seeing an older white guy go, “I’m Rick James, bitch,” was when he sang/spoke “Superfreak” and plugged in the words, “You can’t touch this.”

“Let’s see, what did I do on Friday? Mmmmm, got a haircut, mmmmm, called a guy a dick on national television.”

-Amanpour

Did I miss something during the campaign season? What did Dole do to all vets? Has there ever been a question whether Dole deserved a purple heart? I can’t believe I missed something like that.[/quote]
He diminished the Purple Heart by questioning the validity of its award to Kerry when he had no real evidence to do so. It makes it easier for someone to point at someone who has a PH-- and doesn’t have some lasting aftereffect from the wound to go with it-- and impugn them.[/quote]

How did we end up with this myth that you can’t question somebody’s military decorations? There is legitimate evidence that Kerry’s wounds were minor and even on one occasion accidentally self inflicted when a grenade he launched blew shrapnel back on himself. Kerry was selling himself as a war hero…certainly that claim needs to be examined. Some of his behavior as documented in Boston Globe articles is truly bizarre. He made home movies of his supposed exploits by returning to the sites of the combat and reenacting them on film. He was showing these films to friends and the press in his home decades after the events. I just can’t see how Bob Dole gets demonized. Bob dole got a purple heart and a useless left arm. Kerry got three and didn’t spend a day in the hospital but he did get a ticket home. If that doesn’t sound unusual than I don’t know what does.

It’s only unusual if you know next to nothing about military decorations. And the specific criticisms were the sort of ridiculous thing no one would possibly believe unless they already didn’t like the guy politically.