Jon Stewart started out Monday night's Daily Show by catching up with the Sochi Olympics. The Games started out Friday with "all the expected pomp, pageantry, and nostalgia for dehumanizing industrial collectivization," Stewart said, then moved on to all the problems marring the hotel rooms of foreign journalists with Twitter accounts.
His favorite story was the very yellow, apparently very toxic tap water one Chicago Tribune reporter discovered in her room — then tweeted to the world. The Russians' reaction to these complaints just made things worse, Stewart said, testing out his Russian accent.
In contrast, Stephen Colbert was a little more sympathetic to the Russian side last week, saying the whiny American journalists are seeing "the glass of toxic yellow fluid as half empty."
Back on The Daily Show, Stewart followed up these by-now warmed-over observations about sub-par accommodations with some actual first-person reporting by Jason Jones, who flew to Russia and filed a report from "Sochi-ish" — also known as Moscow. The conceit of the clip is that if you want to get to know the real Russia, skip Sochi and head to Moscow (because that is why everyone is in Sochi: to get to know Russia). But of course the conceit is just a vehicle on The Daily Show.
Jones found, much to his disappointment, that Moscow is just like the U.S., "just with a f—ked up alphabet." To find out why, he spoke with Vyacheslav Nikonav, a longtime Russian politician and member of the State Duma. I don't know if they get The Daily Show in Russia, but Nikonav handled Jones' gonzo style of interview as well as most American politicians. Jones got to try out his Russia accent, and Nikonav his (quite passable) American accent, and the two talked about which country was better during World War II and the Cold War.
This conversation made Jones realize how much he "missed our old enemy," the Soviet Union, and the constant specter of nuclear annihilation. He even talked, briefly, with Mikhail Gorbachev. It's much funnier (and, ultimately, smarter) than it sounds:
In the next segment, Stewart turned his approving gaze to the coming-out of NFL draft prospect Michael Sam. After a not-so-subtle dig at Tim Tebow — a gay pro football player would the biggest civil rights victory "since the NFL welcomed its first openly really bad player" — Stewart noted that as a tough defensive end, Sam sort of dispels the myth about weak, girly gay men; then he paid a backhanded compliment to the Midwest for accepting an openly gay man... who happens to be really good at football.
Stewart ended by noting that Sam's NFL prospects may well have been damaged by coming out before the draft — then showing a short roundup of the types of thuggish, criminal behavior NFL teams overlook on a seemingly regular basis. His point is almost irrefutable. Watch:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- 10 things you need to know today: September 30, 2014
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Are hedge funds doomed?
- 11 surprisingly apt lessons from Machiavelli's The Prince
Subscribe to the Week