Thursday, August 16, 2007

McCain's 10th Daily Show

Senator John McCain (R–AZ) appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight for the tenth time. They discussed McCain's Presidential campaign and what he will need to do to pull it out of its low poll numbers and even lower finances. McCain is touting a new book, but he's also among the most frequent guests on The Daily Show, averaging more than once a year. Since there has been considerable interest in what Senator McCain has said on other recent appearances on the show (2007-04-24, 2006-07-24, and 2006-04-04), here is the interview.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, original air date 2007-08-16, ©2007 Comedy Central
Jon Stewart: Welcome back! My guest tonight, a Republican Senator from the State of Arizona who is also running for President. His new book is called Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People who Made Them. Please welcome back to the program, Senator John McCain. [applause and cheers]

[Stewart and McCain move to the main set, but McCain sits in the host's chair and Stewart in the guest's chair.]

John McCain: Now, did you hear him say that I was taking over the show and he was goin' to the Senate? Did you hear it? Look at that!

Stewart: You know, I don't have that much time to waste.

McCain: But you know what that means, if he's goin' to the Senate?

Stewart: Cloture?

McCain: He's goin' to be President of the United States! And —

Stewart: Get back in your seat. Damn you! You know, last time you were here — I'm glad to see you again. We got in a tiff last time; I don't remember what it was about, but I'm glad to see you again.

McCain: I've forgotten about it.

Stewart: I've completely forgotten about it. You've written another book. What is this, —

McCain: Yeah, I'm glad to see you, but just to mention again, I think this could be quite a moment in American political history, if you're gonna run for President — [to the audience] all Senators have to run for President.

Stewart: No, they do not.

McCain: Unless you're under indictment or detoxification, you automatically consider yourself a candidate for the President of the United States.

Stewart: When was the last Senator that won, though? See now, that's the thing: why don't Senators win?

McCain: Ah, you had to bring that up.

Stewart: What is it about being in the Senate?

McCain: [to the audience] It's not funny. It's not funny.

Stewart: [Stewart giggles] This book is your fifth — are you, like, Steven King now? How many books — what do you do? You're running for President, you're in the Senate, you're writin' books; do you hate your family? What's going on? What's going on here? This is —

McCain: Well, we —

Stewart: — the third this year.

McCain: No, it's —

Stewart: Is Voldemort in this? [McCain is speechless; audience cheers]

McCain: You know, I liked it a lot better sitting over there.

Stewart: Yeah? This is where all the jokes are, my friend!

McCain: Congratulations, and thank you for having me on, for the tenth time.

Stewart: Tenth time?

McCain: My tenth appearance, and it goes back to the 2000 campaign — long before some of you were born — and I'd like to thank you.

Stewart: A simpler time.

McCain: A simpler time in American history. The best of times, the worst of times.

Stewart: Now, what's going on with your campaign? People are — I read that people are leavin', it's just you now on that big bus. What —

McCain: In the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it gets totally black.

Stewart: Has this been a trying period? What's — what's goin' on?

McCain: Sure. You go through trying periods, these things go up and down; we're doin' fine. I'm happy with where we are, we've spent a lot of time in the town hall meetings, and it's very enjoyable, and we're gonna be —

Stewart: You're staying with it?

McCain: Oh, sure. It's —

Stewart: What would — Let me ask you a question: is Romney human?

McCain: I will leave that to those who have the —

Stewart: Scientists? Let me ask you a question: At what point, because all the —

McCain: Let me tell you how much fun it is to be in a debate with nine other candidates.

Stewart: Those things are absolutely ridiculous!

McCain: It certainly is a little bit numbing when you know it's gonna be 9 or 10 minutes before you're asked another question.

Stewart: Do you ever go to sleep?

McCain: Zzzzzzz.

Stewart: You just kind of shake around and pop your head up?

McCain: Occasionally, yeah. It gives one a chance to think about family, friends —

Stewart: No, it's nice. Is there something that could happen, like — what's are you lookin' at for the first couple of primaries, you feel like you gotta take two out of three? What's your —

McCain: In political history since 1980, the nominee of both parties has had to win two out of the first three: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

Stewart: Right.

McCain: We have to win, and we will. I have great confidence, I'm very confident. [applause]

Stewart: So, you're feelin' it?

McCain: [gesturing to individual audience members] Thank you very much, God bless you. Thank you. No thanks to you.

Stewart: Do you feel like there's anything that you would change as to what's gone down so far? What would you have done — anything differently? Because, after — maybe so you wouldn't've had to hit the rough spot?

McCain: No, I think some of the planning on the finances, we obviously coulda changed, but I think that most people are gonna focus, probably, in September, when we start really gettin' into this. And, by the way, you know it's escalated, moved back, so that it's gonna be decided, apparently, some time in January, now.

Stewart: The nomination?

McCain: Everybody's movin' their primaries up.

Stewart: How is it to run to the Base? You know, these primaries — it does seem like, like, for the Democrats, they have to visit every special interest group. You know, they have the union debate, they had the black caucus debate, the gay forum debate —

McCain: YouTube.

Stewart: — YouTube, leprechauns. For the Republicans, the Base is more homogenous, but it seems like it's also — it allows the candidates, and, you know, I watched the debate, and the candidates are running on who's tougher. Like, you see Romney, "I'd triple the size of Guantánamo!" you know, and Giuliani is like, "I'd eat the testicles of terrorists!" Why does that have to be that way? Because, you know, when the general election comes, they're gonna be like, "I don't know what that guy was talking about!"

McCain: Well, let me just tell you: I'd close Guantánamo Bay, and I'd declare we never torture another person in American custody. [audience cheers loudly] And we would keep bad guys in prison, but we would have a process for taking care of some kind of tribunal, so that —

Stewart: Why is that such a difficult issue for people to wrap their heads around? I keep hearing these guys going, We've gotta be able to — we've gotten great information!

McCain: I think it's because life is not 24. As much as I love Jack Bauer, you know:
  • Tell me where the nuclear weapon is!
  • No.
  • [boom!]
  • I'll tell ya where it is!
That's all ya have to do, ya know?

Stewart: That's not how it goes down in those things? All right, very interesting.

McCain: And Jack Bauer and I have a lot in common, you know. Really, we do.

Stewart: Are you fictional, sir? Is that what this is about?

McCain: He gets captured, I get captured. He escapes, I don't escape. But, you know, it's close.

Stewart: It's very close. Here's what I wanna see in the next upcoming run: I wanna see the old John McCain —

McCain: You got it.

Stewart: — I wanna see the guy out there, speakin' it like it is, doin' the thing, not givin' a crap about the — but doin' what's he's gotta do to do the thing. Is that what I'm gonna — what?

McCain: Yes. [waves his book to the audience]

Stewart: No, don't. You know what, you can buy this book, but in a week and a half, he'll have another one, so it doesn't really matter, but it's called Hard Call; it's good to see ya again, and —

McCain: Thanks for having me on, Jon. It's a great joy to be back.

Stewart: — Stop it! It's always a pleasure to see ya. Hard Call is on the bookshelves now, Senator John McCain, always nice to see ya.
I'm greatly pleased to hear McCain's unequivocal rejection of the interrogation and detention policies that have been a hallmark of the Bush years, but I can't help that voice in the back of my head that won't stop saying, "But McCain knew all this about Bush in 2004!" If McCain wants to regain any of his reputation for "straight talk," he's got a lot of lost ground to regain.

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