Whether it was the show's contrarian nature or just that plane tickets to Moscow were cheap, The Daily Show's decision to send Jason Jones to "Sochi-ish" during the Olympics turned out quite well. On Monday night, Jon Stewart took a moment to pat his show on the back.
Stewart started out the show by acknowledging that for all the (well-founded) criticism Russia faced at the beginning of the Sochi Games, at least nobody died during the Olympic competitions. His description of the closing ceremonies was pretty good, if slightly caustic, featuring Russia's "ode to all the really great writers and artists they had shot, imprisoned, or exiled."
But all that was short prelude to the final installment of Jones' great Russian adventure. (Previous installments are here, here, and here.) Jones' final bit of ethnographic wisdom from Moscow — other than that pirated Russian DVDs of The Daily Show identify Stewart as "Tiny Jew" and him as "Jebbin Johnson" — was that today's Russians live by a simple motto: "Don't be a pussy."
He gleaned that bit of wisdom not from his interviews with members of Pussy Riot or opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but from talking with math teacher Marina Bezrukova, an "average Muscovite" who goes "roofing" for fun. Jones' interviews with Navalny — who was four hours late because he was being interrogated, again, by the FSB — and Pussy Riot's Yekaterina Samutsevich back that up, in a political context: They are both routinely bugged by Russian security forces. Jones admitted that, compared with them and other Russians, he's a pussy.
Stewart brought Jones and producer Brennan Shroff on to congratulate them on a job well done, then asked how they managed to score an interview with the reclusive Mikhail Gorbachev. The answer: They bought his phone number on the black market, for a pound of flesh:
After wrapping up the Olympics, Stewart started to close out February, which hosts both Presidents Day and Black History Month. A critique of Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano's admittedly contrarian views on Abraham Lincoln may sound dry and boring, but Stewart and Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore managed to make it pretty entertaining. Napolitano argues that Lincoln should have let capitalism and free markets end slavery, not pursued the "murderous" Civil War.
Stewart asked Wilmore what he thinks of the argument that slavery would have died of natural causes without the Civil War. Wilmore said that slavery still exists in some countries today, and besides, "the South was so committed to slavery, Lincoln didn't die of natural causes." He then compared Napolitano's praise for the Revolutionary War with his criticism of the Civil War, and pitted the judge's concern about taxes against his apparent blasé attitude about slavery. Wilmore's final kicker: "There's something not right when you feel the only black thing worth fighting for is tea." Watch: