Jon Stewart considers The Daily Show one of the privileges of living in America, where open satire is allowed. "The idea that we can sit in the back of the country and make wisecracks, which is really what we do, we sit in the back and throw spitballs, but never forgetting the fact that it is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that."
As Stewart returns to his post as The Daily Show anchor starting tonight, he will bring the the same sentiment that has propelled the show to comedy heights and pop culture infamy for the last decade and a half. Although worthy substitute John Oliver did a great job at the helm, we're glad that Stewart is done directing the film Rosewater, which is about a journalist detained in Iran.
In preparation for his return, remember some of the moments that made Stewart more than a comedian on cable TV. These moments made him a pop cultural touchstone and one of the sharpest politically minded pundits on television, all while producing another topical comedy powerhouse in The Colbert Report and raking in one of the biggest salaries in media topping $25 million.
1. The Sept. 11 Monologue
"It's another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host." That's what Stewart thought of his monologue that is by far the most poignant The Daily Show has ever seen. But in true Stewart style, he shows the best of New York and the best of the entertainment business as he comments on the state of the U.S. after the tragedy. "We've had an unendurable pain here and I wanted to tell you why I grieve but why I don't despair … because this attack happened. It's not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King's dream. Whatever barriers we've put up are gone even if it's just momentary."
2. The Glenn Beck Parody
Delving from poignant to silly to poignant again, Jon Stewart takes on the entire spectrum of punditry through a five minute tirade that lambastes Beck, but more importantly holds people's feet to the very flames they cause as professional pundits. "So everything's in place. Everything but one thing and the one thing is everything. You think it's nothing? You are wrong." In this parody, Stewart shows the troubles that can come with trusting opinion to be a primary news source, and he does it all with a twinkle in his eye.
3. Standing Up For Veteran's Rights
There are a million different clips that could go in here as Jon Stewart is one of the most vocal advocates of fixing the backlog of veterans' claims, providing jobs and health care for returning soldiers, and more or less making sure that the people who pulled us through a great American tragedy and a decade of warfare return to a country that appreciates their sacrifice and provides them with the resources they need. Stewart starts out this way: "Critics said it couldn't be done. Well four years and $1 billion later it turns out … they were right." Taking on the Obama administration and partisan politics in order to stand up for veterans before the floors of the V.A. field offices collapse under the weight of all the backlogged claims, Stewart proves he's one of the veterans' biggest media allies.
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