On Tuesday night, Jon Stewart scrapped the comedy and dedicated the entire Daily Show (and then some) to an interview with President Obama. They started out with with a brief discussion on “senioritis,” prompting this exchange:
Obama: “I can’t believe that you’re leaving before me. In fact, I’m issuing a new executive order that Jon Stewart cannot leave the show. It’s being challenged in the courts.”
Stewart: “I have to say, for me this is a states’ rights issue.”
The rest of the first segment, which you can watch below, is on the Iran nuclear deal. For other quotes from the 45-minute-long interview, read below the video.
In Part 2, Stewart asked about Obama’s relations with the news media. Obama said he isn’t upset by the media’s tenacity or rough treatment of him — the media should hold government accountable, he said — but he added, “I think it gets distracted by shiny objects, and doesn’t always focus on the big, tough, choices and decisions that have to be made,” something he blames partly on changes in technology and the political “balkanization” of the media.
In Part 3, Stewart asked Obama about creating a national mandatory public-service program for young people (and older volunteers), and Obama waxed poetic about how community cohesion becomes unglued as you move up from neighborhood to state to national levels, thanks largely to money and its bedfellow, partisan politics. Stewart brought the tenor down a notch:
Stewart: “After seven years, is that the advice you then bequeath to future President Trump?”
Obama: “Well, I’m sure Republicans are enjoying Mr. Trump’s current dominance of their primary.”
Stewart: “Anything that makes them look less crazy.”
The Daily Show also posted two videos that didn’t make it on the air. In the first, Obama discussed government shortcomings at the Department of Veterans Affairs and IRS. In the second segment, Obama talked about cynicism and fixing the government bit by bit. “There are going to be elements, because government is a human enterprise, where somebody, somewhere, is screwing up at any given time, because it is a huge system,” he said. But on the whole, government helps a lot of people in a lot of places every day.
“By the time I leave here, I think we’re going to be able to say that government is working much better, much more efficiently, much more customer-friendly than when I came into office,” Obama added later. When people throw up their hands and say “there’s nothing that can be done,” he added “then what you get are protest movements on the left, or the right — I mean, to some degree the Tea Party is an expression of frustration; they see a bunch of stuff going on that they don’t understand and they feel threatened by, and then they react.” Stewart: “You make them sound like bunnies.” You can watch all the videos at Comedy Central. Peter Weber