If you thought Jon Stewart wouldn't be funny without George W. Bush to kick around, said Jacob Gershman in New York magazine, think again. The Comedy Central host is thriving, partly because conservative pundits suddenly love to go on his show. Cliff May, a national-security hawk and former Republican spokesman who went on The Daily Show and defended waterboarding, said Stewart is a "staunch liberal, but he's a thoughtful liberal, and I respect that." (watch Cliff May debate with Jon Stewart)

The attraction is "quite simple really," said Chattahbox. Conservative "speakers just want a chance to have their views heard from someone that is truly listening, and maybe even get treated with respect as a guest." And Jon Stewart seems to like mixing it up with ideological adversaries more than trading pleasantries with people he already agrees with.

Jon Stewart's debates with conservatives—including Cliff May, William Kristol, and Newt Gingrich—have definitely helped him "keep things interesting," said Michael Calderone in Politico. And Kristol, a frequent guest, has encouraged other conservatives to go on Stewart's show to reach an audience that sometimes tunes them out.