Speed Reads

The Daily Showdown

Jon Stewart breezily truth-squads Russia and U.S. conservatives on Flight 17

Jon Stewart started out Monday night's Daily Show with a brief ensemble interpretive enactment of why it's so hard to discuss Israel's most recent battle with Hamas — the bit involves a lot of shouting — but he spent most of the show talking about Malaysia Flight 17. And he began by pooh-poohing Russia's hand-washing of any responsibility for destroying the civilian flight, apparently shot down by confused pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists using Russia-supplied missiles.

The stakes here are high, because whoever shot down the plane will face a stream of global anger, Stewart explained. "And right now it looks like it's Russia's fault — because it's Russia's fault." But Moscow is doing everything it can to evade blame, including re-editing Wikipedia pages on the crash and pushing stories like one flying around Russia's state-controlled media that Flight 17, which took off from Amsterdam, was filled with corpses and run on autopilot then crashed to make Russia look bad. Yes, Stewart deadpanned, "the country that gave us windmills, pot brownies, and a bed sheet oven powered by farts now gives us the unprovoked flying zombie plane — that's so like the Dutch."

After mocking Russia's reaction to the tragic incident, Stewart looked at how Republicans are talking about Flight 17. One main theme, he said, is that President Obama isn't reacting forcefully enough, and ought to act more like Ronald Reagan did when Soviet Russia shot down a Korean Air passenger jet in 1983. There's only one problem, Stewart said: Reagan's quick, vigorous "response to that catastrophe was so special, so remarkable, it was enough to make us forget what actually happened." And to show what actually happened back in the 1980s, he draws on the recollection of Fox News' Chris Wallace, and Reagan's own diary. --Peter Weber