Monday, February 18, 2008

The Most Important Oscar Host...Ever

What is it about Jon Stewart that makes a girl weak in the knees? Is it his smile? His graying hair? What about those eyes? For me, the answer lies behind all of that. It's his integrity. For anyone who watches "The Daily Show," it's apparent that he takes pride in what he does, even when it isn't highbrow. Stewart holds the feet of those in power over the fire, and still manages to have fun. Whether doing an intelligent joke about funding for the Iraq War, interviewing a brilliant political mind, or playing the straight man to Stephen Colbert (or any of "The Daily Show"'s correspondents), Stewart commits.

His quick wit and biting quips are one of the reasons this nation isn't fully in the gutter. Studies have said that members of my age group (18-25) are more likely to get their news from "The Daily Show" than traditional newscasts. Well, maybe that's because we don't connect with Brian Williams, and we don't care about Katie Couric. When I watch "The Daily Show," I feel like the real questions are getting asked (even if they aren't being answered), and someone is mocking the hypocrisy of authority figures. Watching "The Daily Show" is like sitting in the cheap seats of a White House press conference, with your favorite grade-school troublemaker.

Jon Stewart may have struck comic gold as America's favorite anti-anchor, but he has had a long career before taking over for Craig Kilborn at "The Daily Show" in 1999. He hosted shows on MTV, had his own syndicated talk show, and has acted in films like Big Daddy and Playing By Heart. Why now? Why the success after years of pounding Hollywood's pavement?

The answer should shock and frighten: Because we need him. In an age where journalists are too afraid to be controversial, and most political satirists risk losing their jobs for telling the truth, (see Bill Maher and ABC's "Politically Incorrect") this country needs a television newscast who fights the power, lays it plain, and never fails to see how ridiculous our nation's government can be. America needs this from a newscast, even if it isn't real.

The whole reason I bring up Stewart's talent is because "The Daily Show" is back, after the Writers' Strike, and are having a field day with the presidential race, which is basically the most twisted horse race in recent memory. Even after a few days with writers, Stewart (who held his own without his writing team, which he leads) was back at 100% and I can already smell the stench of burning flesh in Washington.

Stewart will be on "Larry King Live" this Wednesday night (at 8 p.m.) presumably to talk about his second time hosting the Oscars (this Sunday, in case you live under a rock). Hopefully King will bring that satirical spirit out, and we'll get Jon's unfiltered views on life in 2008's America.

No one is a bigger fan than I am of UI professor Frank Durham, but if Jon ever wants to step away from the news desk, he should consider coming to Iowa City in March to moderate the rescheduled Karl Rove lecture. I imagine it would go something like this:

-Meryn, who thinks you should click on this post's title if you want to read more about her love of all things Stewart.

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