Last August, Jon Stewart sat behind his Daily Show desk for the final time. No one wanted him to leave, but we understood. It has to take a toll when on a nightly basis you parse Fox News, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the frenzy surrounding Barack Obama, Bill O'Reilly and everything else to enter and exit the political spin cycle. Unfortunately, Stewart was leaving right when we needed him most. Donald Trump was a few months into his presidential campaign, which means America was a few months into the most ludicrous period in its history. Every single day since he left would have been a gold mine for Stewart and his writers. To be honest, it would have been a little too good to be true.
Last night on the Late Show, Stewart reminded us of what we've been missing. "I was wondering if I could talk about the election," he said after appearing beside Colbert at the host's desk in a gray T-shirt. Colbert then ceded his chair to Stewart, gave him a blazer and clip-on tie and disappeared under the desk. Then, for 10 solid minutes, Stewart lambasted the GOP in the style of his Daily Show days. "The convention's over," he began. "I thought Donald Trump was going to speak. Ivanka said he was going to come out. He said he was really compassionate and generous. But then this angry groundhog came out...and he just vomitted on everybody for an hour."
One of the defining elements of Stewart's Daily Show was running old clips of pundits contradicting themselves, and last night the segment was full of these, like one of a commentator in 2008 saying that Obama was unfit to be president because he was "a raging narcissist with no grip on reality." Stewart then stared dead-eyed at the camera, allowing the irony to sink in.
After a prolonged evisceration of Sean Hannity (or, Lumpy), Stewart delivered an impassioned rant about those who "want their country back."
"Here's where we are: Either Lumpy and his friends are lying about being bothered by thin-skinned, authoritarian, less-than-Christian readers of prompter being president, or they don't care. As long as it's THEIR thin-skinned prompter authoritarian tyrant narcissist. You just want that person to give you your country back, because you feel you are this country's rightful owners. There's only one problem with that: This country isn't yours. You don't own it. It never was. There is no real America. You don't own it. You don't own patriotism. You don't own Christianity. You sure as hell don't own bravery and respect for the sacrifice of the military, police and firefighters. Trust me. I saw a lot of people on the convention floor in Cleveland with their Blue Lives Matter rhetoric who remained silent, or actively fought against the 9/11 first responders bill reauthorization. I see you, and I see your bullshit. I see it."
Colbert then quickly popped up from under his desk to remind Stewart that they were on live TV.
"Those fighting to be included in the ideal of equality are not being divisive," Stewart concluded. "Those fighting to keep those people out are. So Lumpy, you and your friends have embraced Donald Trump. Clearly, the C next to your names doesn't stand for constitutional or conservative, but cravenly convenient—"
Then Colbert popped up again to quickly sound an airhorn.