Jon Stewart started out Tuesday night's Daily Show by confessing that Christmas is, in his estimation, "the most wonderful time of the year," what with its festive trees, carolers breaking into song, and Starbucks switching from pumpkin additive to peppermint additive. But all that may be at risk of destruction, at least in the "world of pure fear and despair" that is Fox News, Stewart said.
The first part of the show introduces Fox News' warning about how sharia law is threatening... an hour-long block of swimming time at a Minnesota aquatic center. But the meat of the show is in the next part, detailing "World War C" — Fox News' annual dire declaration of an ever-expanding "War on Christmas."
Leading the charge this year is Sarah Palin, Stewart said. In an interview with CNN, Palin argues that while the government shouldn't protect non-Christians from having to take part in Christmas festivities, individual people can help, noting that she puts a menorah on the kitchen table through the Christmas season to teach her children "about the Jewish faith." Stewart took a moment to explain Hanukkah to the probably confused Palin children, with an evident and slightly smug glee.
Stewart then turned to somebody who can "defend Christmas with a little more authority" — noted frenemy Bill O'Reilly. He and O'Reilly do this dance over the War on Christmas every year, Stewart noted, so what makes this year so special? He then proceeded to dismantle O'Reilly's argument that "Happy Holidays" is an especially egregious infringement on Christmas now, with Hanukkah ending so early — and then notion that Macy's is turning on Christmas this year, too.
This all leads to Stewart's strongest point: Palin, explicitly, and O'Reilly, implicitly, are defending the commercialization of Christmas, not its underlying spirit of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and, by extension, Christianity. O'Reilly's real knock against Macy's, he noted, is that "they're not invoking Christ's name enough." Then Stewart dealt his coup de grâce: Pope Francis. If the head of the Roman Catholic Church is vocally against consumerism and commercialism, doesn't that make him a four-star general in the War on Christmas?
The middle segment features Stewart clog-dancing on the Republican National Committee's flub in declaring that racism is dead, in a tweet celebrating the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger — a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. Needless to say, Stewart had plenty of fun at the RNC's expense, and Twitter's. Watch:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- This week I learned the moon might be littered with dinosaur fossils, and more
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- The conservative battle against ObamaCare won't end with Halbig
- Girls on Film: Why audiences are responsible for the future of cinema
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
Subscribe to the Week