Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jon Stewart is back!

The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks also marks the return from hiatus of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as The Colbert Report. Tonight, Jon Stewart opened with this a discussion of the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, commenting, "[A]s you know, nothing is typically more accurate than the made-for-TV movie, so why shouldn't 9/11 get the same respect the Amy Fisher story gets?" He then segu├ęd into an examination of the evolution of President Bush's relationship with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.


Jon Stewart: No doubt about it: five years is a long time. So much so that as the President spent the past week giving various speeches on our nation's security, he felt compelled to remind us how this whole damned thing started.
George W. Bush [2006-09-05]: To hear the words of Osama bin Laden earlier this year, "Death is better than living on this earth with the unbelievers among us."
Stewart: Osama? That name's one for the old Where Are They Now? file. Oh, no, seriously: where is he?, NOW! Perhaps the rekindling of Bush's interest in Osama bin Laden is a sign of how far we've come in the last five years. We've progressed through all five stages of grief. First, there was Denial:
Bush [2002-03-13]: He's the ultimate parasite. He found weakness, exploited it, and, uh, umm, met his match.
Stewart: And then Anger:
Bush [undated]: I don't care, dead or alive, either way. I mean, I, I, uhh, umm — it du'unt matter to me.
Stewart: And then Anger again:
Bush [2001-12-10]: This man wants to destroy any semblance of civilization for his own power and his own good.
Stewart: And the next stage — well, Anger:
Bush [2001-12-14]: This is a man who is so devious, so [raises eyebrows] cold-hearted, that, uhh, he laughs about the suicide — so-called suicide bombers that lost their lives.
Stewart: And of course:
Bush [2001-12-10]: I can't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah.
Stewart: Not sure what "stage" that was, not sure where to put that one — other than, on our show, as often as possible. And finally, as with anything tragic, Acceptance:
Bush [2002-01-22]: A fella came the other day in the office and said, "Well, are you worried about Mr. bin Laden?" I said, "No, I'm not too worried about him."
Stewart: And then for some reason back to Denial:
Bush [2004-10-13]: Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those "exaggerations."
Stewart: All right. So apparently the President has his own stages of grief: There's Denial, Anger, Anger, Anger, Hanukkah, and of course Acceptance. And then, I believe, Denial. So, five years later, the key question is, What is the state of our nation? Mr. President?
Bush [2006-08-15]: America is safer than it has been, but it's not yet safe.
Stewart: Puzzling words. Clearly walking a narrow verbal tightrope. What does he mean, exactly? For more, we go to Washington, and our Senior White House Correspondent, John Oliver. John, thank you so much for joining us. The President says we're safer, but not yet safe.

John Oliver: That's right, Jon. The truth is, since 9/11, due to the vigilance of the Bush Administration, not a single major terrorist attack has taken place here on U.S. soil. But dangerous Islamo-fascists continue plotting new methods of hurting us!

Stewart: You're saying the Bush Administration hasn't yet achieved its goals for winning this war?

Oliver: This White House has, by sheer force of will, secured our ports and prevented numerous potential attacks. With Bush at the helm, Americans can rest easy. There are murderous murderers out there, with nothing but murder on their minds, and they'll stop at nothing — even murder.

Stewart: So the message, then, that the administration sends out, as it pertains to the midterm elections is...?

Oliver: This administration has put America on the right track towards total, unprecedented safety.

Stewart: I see. So, when you...

Oliver: If you vote for Democrats, you may as well give al Qaeda a death ray and a manual! [aside, to camera under the desk, with pixellated image] This is going much better than I expected it to!

Stewart: I'm sorry, John, what camera are you talking to now?

Oliver: It's my real-time blog. Hello, fan!

Stewart: All right — so, we're safe, but we're not safe? How is that possible?

Oliver: Well, in addition to attacking our way of life, bin Laden is waging a more subtle, sinister campaig, attacking the way we communicate. Pre-9/11, the idea of being safe without being safe would have been preposterous! If you were safe, you were — almost by definition — safe, but bin Laden wants our country living in a netherworld between a word and its antonym.

Stewart: How is that even possible?

Oliver: I hope you're sitting down. Two years ago, satellite imagery revealed this: a secret syntactical training Subsequent infiltration of this facility revealed this: it appears bin Laden is developing a new, lethally confusing form called the Osamative. This new form would — if introduced into our school system — render millions of innocent children incapable of comparing individual things to other things in the same category. And, Jon, that would be like — that would be like ... umm, oh, I don't know what to compare it to. Oh, my god! It's happening already!

Stewart: John, John, so the President says, because of him, we're safe? (Right.) But not safe? (Exactly.) But his first chance to show he'd learned the lessons of 9/11 was Katrina, and those were failed.

Oliver: That's because he had yet to learn the lessons of 8/29. And how could he possibly learn those lessons in a pre-8/29 world?

Stewart: So now, post-8/29, the President has made us safe from natural disasters as well?

Oliver: We haven't been attacked by another hurricane since! The proof is in the pudding, Jon.

Stewart: All right. In summation:

Oliver: George W. Bush is the right man to lead us in the era "post-" whatever calamity he leads us into next. America, Jon, is safe. But for how long?? [ominous music] Jon?

Stewart: Thank you very much. John Oliver from the White House.

The astute among you will already have noticed that the sequence of Bush quotes was rearranged for narrative clarity, rather in the style of a made-for-TV minisegment.

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