Jon Stewart started off Tuesday night's Daily Show with a lesson in geopolitics, explaining the precarious situation of Ukraine. On one side, represented by the Sochi Olympics' giant, crying, animatronic bear, is Russia; on the other is Western Europe, for some reason represented by an "a*$hole" drinking a "tiny coffee."
The first part of the show — gratuitous shot at espresso aside — was a pretty straightforward recap of the massive protests in Kiev. That is, until Stewart got to how American cable news is viewing the events in Ukraine: Through a lens of how it will affect the 2014 midterm elections and 2016 presidential race. Yes, Stewart said mockingly, because American voters really care about foreign affairs. Here's where he ranks Ukraine among U.S. voters' priorities:
The story Republicans and the Fox News commentariat really want to tell, Stewart said, is that "weak" Obama is letting America get pushed around in Ukraine by tough-guy Russian President Vladimir Putin. (If you know how this ends, suspend your disbelief until Stewart catches up with events.) And who would have projected American strength and championed "freedom," he asked of the Fox talkers? Ronald Reagan, of course. Stewart's subsequent takedown of Oliver North, and Reagan's "actions," is a marvel to behold.
Stewart was mock-shocked to learn that, in fact, Putin seems to have lost in Ukraine. What must have happened, he added, is that Reagan's ghost appeared and told Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee "Booooo-kraine." That, or he got desperate to leave after talking to Vice President Joe Biden for two hours:
Stephen Colbert beat Stewart to the punch by a full day. Here's how he elucidated the Ukraine situation on Monday night's Colbert Report:
Colbert got a Reagan reference in, too. But he also brought on an actual expert, Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose, to discuss Ukraine. For those of you interested in both world affairs and Comic-Con, Rose explained that Ukraine is "basically Robin to Russia's Batman," and the trick is to get Robin to switch allegiances. Rose wasn't a terribly neutral observer, and he talked down to Colbert's audience a bit, but Colbert got to shine as an interviewer:
Back to The Daily Show, where Stewart continued explaining world events to Americans, in this case Mexico's arrest of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Stewart didn't really have a "take" here, just a summation of the news and some good jokes. And he managed to bring it all home to the Reagans. Watch:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
Subscribe to the Week