For Jon Stewart, Tuesday night's Daily Show was all about bad news: the failure of a Florida jury to convict Michael Dunn for the killing of a black teenager and the near miss of the United Auto Workers' bid to unionize its first foreign auto plant in the South.
On Friday, after three days of voting, the UAW fell 43 votes short in its drive to unionize a Chattanooga Volkswagen plant, out of about 1,350 votes cast. VW management was neutral-to-positive about unionization, since it would facilitate the setting-up of a German-style "works council" at the plant. So Stewart was mock-shocked to discover the big obstacle was interference from prominent state Republicans, including Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, not Big Government Democrats or plant managers.
Between gleefully trotting out made-up German words and trying out his German accent — it leads, at one point, to him sticking a pacifier in his mouth — Stewart made his point: Republicans like Corker tell the government to stay out of private business decisions "only when it suits their narrow purpose." The Germans have a word for that, he added: "Bullshit."
The rest of The Daily Show, minus Stewart's interview with Kevin Spacey, was devoted to the Dunn verdict, the latest test of the Sunshine State's controversial "stand your ground" law. Dunn, who is white, was convicted on three counts of attempted murder for shooting at a car full of black teenagers but acquitted of the murder of the one kid who died, Jordan Davis. Stewart explained what happened to viewers unfamiliar with the case.
The story isn't very funny, and Stewart did a decent job of juggling his mandate to entertain with the bleak facts of Davis' killing. But his conclusion is pretty straightforward: "The message in Florida is pretty clear: If you fire a gun, you better f—king hit somebody, because if there's one thing Floridians won't tolerate, it's survivors."
Stewart then brought out Jessica Williams, who used the hung jury on the murder charge to proffer some new rules for Black History Month — already an insult to black people, she said, because February is the only month with an F and a U in it. Her new rules include advising black teenagers to stay inside at all time, never play music, and refrain from hanging out with black friends.
But Williams edged in a serious point about "fear goggles," or "the lens through which chronically terrified white people look at black kids." Fear goggles, she added, turn a puppy-loving, clean-cut black teenager like Jordan Davis into Samuel L. Jackson with a gun pointed at your head.
When Stewart asked Williams if the (unarmed) black teenagers might have used the "stand your ground" law to justify killing Dunn — who, after all, pulled a gun on them — Williams unloaded her zinger: "See Jon, the 'stand your ground' defense is like bleach: It works miracles for whites, but it will ruin your colors." She then pulled out a mic to drop. Watch: