On Monday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart tackled some pretty weighty issues, including gun violence and the national debt. But he didn't have much patience for talk about how China's first-ever moon landing over the weekend signaled a grave threat to America's dominance of space.
The race to the moon was in 1957, between the U.S. and Soviet Russia, Stewart said. China soft-landing an unmanned rover now is like those people on crutches or in bear suits who finish the New York City marathon hours after everyone thinks the race is over. The U.S. is already halfway to landing a person on Mars! he added — before ending on a serious note: "Hey China, can we borrow some money for our Mars trip?" Zing! Let it not be said that Stewart isn't an equal-opportunity belittler.
Stewart started the show by revisiting the unequivocal claim last week by Fox News' Megyn Kelly that Santa Clause is white, just like Jesus. Fox's Bill O'Reilly defended Kelly's assertion about Santa's race on Monday night, but Kelly had already tried to defuse the mini-controversy over her comments. On Friday night, she insisted she was just making a light-hearted joke, adding that the uproar just proves she and Fox News are big targets for people with no sense of humor.
Ah, Stewart said, starting to apologize for mistaking Kelly's "joke" for just another instance of "a Fox News segment expressing anger and victimization over the loss of absolute power and reframing that as persecution of 'real' America by minorities, freeloaders, and socialists." But then he showed more of Kelly's white Santa segment, and rested his case:
Stewart rounded out the show by taking on recent, panicky news stories about the "knockout game," in which young men punch random people in the face just for the fun of it. Before walking viewers through all the other recent young-hoodlum panics that never panned out, Stewart noted that the "knockout game" meme goes back to 1994, and police around the country are calling this an overhyped urban myth.
Stewart ended his media-poking on another serious note: The knockout game may not be a real threat — though some state lawmakers are proposing big punishments for perpetrators and bystanders — but gun violence kills people every day. He ran through some of the statistics about the number of people killed by guns in the year since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Why can't we do something about that? Stewart asked, noting that gun laws have been weakened in some states since Newtown. He hit upon a plan, pitching a new national panic over "the shooty game."
It's not very funny. And that's Stewart's point. Watch:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- The most sensible GOP alternative to ObamaCare comes from a Senate candidate who is almost sure to lose
- When Khomeini said no to Iranian nukes
- 10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Did Republicans overshoot on the Ebola panic?
Subscribe to the Week