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WATCH: Jon Stewart returns... to the mess in Syria
The Daily Show host comes back from vacation to find another looming U.S. conflict in the Middle East. He's not pleased.
 

Perhaps you know the feeling: You get back from a long vacation, refreshed and maybe even subtly changed, and then you get to your office, with high hopes — and a pile of slightly unpleasant business is stacked up waiting just for you. This is apparently how Jon Stewart felt upon returning to The Daily Show after his summer off to direct a movie in the Middle East.

Granted, Jon Stewart's job is probably better than yours. And he has a crack group of writers to help him get back in the groove. Still, The Daily Show had some fun with Stewart's awkward re-entry. It took summer host John Oliver, Jessica Williams, and even Stephen Colbert to get him back in the saddle — after some interesting costume changes.

As the show kicked into gear, Oliver got Stewart up to speed on what happened over the summer, including the implosion of Stewart's old roommate, Anthony "Carlos Danger" Weiner. But Stewart's hopes of returning to a nice, fun, light end-of-summer story were dashed by the looming U.S. involvement in Syria. He made the best of it with "Uncle Jonny Stew's Good Time Syria Jamboree."

Stewart wasn't thrilled with anyone: President Obama, his promise of limited military engagements, hawkish lawmakers, and — of course — the "idiot parade" of cable TV pundits who are arguing for even stronger action. The rationale for U.S. strikes on Syria from Obama and, even more, the TV talking heads — that we have to do something or end up looking weak — is essentially "because we're in 7th grade," Stewart lamented. There are penis jokes.

If the U.S. really wanted to show strength and maturity, Stewart argued, it would show restraint. Clark Kent never threw bullies into the sun, just because he could, he added. "I'll tell you what would be real weakness: Clark Kent laying waste to a town because someone called him a pussy."

This is a pretty serious stuff for Stewart's long-awaited return to The Daily Show. His guest, equally weighty, was Andrew Harper, who heads the United Nations refugee agency operations in Jordan. They had an interesting discussion about the 2 million Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war.

But Stewart gets some comedy into Comedy Central's marquee news-y show. Watch for the faux commercial for a new perfume, "Signatures of Sarin."

Welcome back, Jon Stewart.

 
Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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