Jon Stewart started out the first Daily Show of 2014 by vowing to give up all discussion of divisive and controversial subjects, like politics and religion. Obviously — thankfully — that didn't last much longer than his decision to talk about the weather.
The weather, of course, is frigidly cold in New York and throughout much of the rest of the United States, which has predictably empowered global warming deniers. After a series of purposefully awkward jokes, Stewart made the relevant points: The global climate and your city's weather aren't the same thing, extreme weather of all types is actually baked into global warming, and globally we've notched at least 12 of the hottest years on record since 1995. None of that matters to the talking heads at Fox News, who predict that this cold snap — the "polar vortex" — will end all talk of global warming for good.
This isn't all that unexpected — as John Aziz points out, belief in global warming fluctuates with the weather. But that doesn't mean Fox News should fan those doubts, Stewart said. After a strange tangent about how angry his balls are, he lamented: "Apparently decades of peer-reviewed scientific study can be, like a ficus plant, destroyed in one cold weekend."
Stewart really exploded when Fox Business host Stuart Varney acknowledged that his dismissal of global warming is "just my opinion." Stewart then took on the common talking point that climate scientists are cooking the data on global warming because of the money and prestige from being a climate scientist — or, as Fox News' Eric Bolling phrased it: "I think these scientists are laughing from their lavish laboratories and their vacations up at the arctic and their nice boats that are well-equipped."
So corporations making millions by denying climate change are unimpeachable, Stewart paraphrased, "but keep an eye on those tricky climate scientist thousandaires." If only there were an expert we all trusted to settle the debate once and for all, Stewart said — before noting Fox News' turned to, of all people, Donald Trump.
Trump inserted himself into the conversation with a series of weather-related tweets, which he has interspersed with inspirational tweets about entrepreneurialism since late December. A sampling:
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
Record snowfall & freezing temps throughout the country. Where is Global Warming when you need it?!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2014
After taking some potshots at Trump's hair, Stewart turned to senior climate correspondent Jessica Williams. The mocking of Trump continued as The Daily Show's makeup department got a rare chance to show off its special effects talents.
In the middle part of the show, Stewart turned to a story that broke between Christmas and New Year's, about a group of nuns who turned to the courts to get out of the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Stewart started out aghast that the Obama White House would try to stick it to a group of adorable, kindly, musical nuns. Then more of the story emerged... Watch:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- Why Antonin Scalia was right to defend a drug dealer
- Why we need a maximum wage
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
Subscribe to the Week