Personally, I tend to skip the interview portion of the show.
I’m not one of those who complain that Stewart is some kind of soulless corporate lackey because he doesn’t preach a radical Green/Marxist/anarcho-syndicalist message with his airtime, or that his show serves as a safety valve to release frustrations that would otherwise find expression in confrontational political activism (uh, this is still the Yew-Nahted States, isn’t it?) He does his thing very well, and says a lot of things that you never hear anywhere outside of the blogosphere, and I just never saw the point of griping over the obvious limitations of someone working within the system, just like I don’t pay to go watch movies starring Keanu Reeves or Mark Wahlberg only to complain about the terrible acting. You should already know what you’re getting when you sit down.
On that note, it’s certainly true that this is a guy who admitted that he would have voted for McCain over Gore in 2000, and who displays an irritating habit of forced evenhandedness (the “extremists on both sides” bit, which really pissed me off when he used that in an interview discussing abortion with Ramesh Ponnuru). He’s really not terribly “liberal”; like so many, he seems to have been slightly radicalized by the Bush years, but he’ll always rush to take potshots at official enemies like Ahmadinejad and Chavez while assuring everyone that he didn’t really mean to call a U.S. president a war criminal. Boats and apple carts will remain upright and at rest, don’t you worry.
But the sliver of idealism in me leads me to hope that he might feel a little discomfort at having bullshit artists like John “Got Milk?” Bolton and Bill Kristol – who lies like most people breathe – singing his praises. That grinning sociopath Kristol especially should be pelted with garbage and rotten fruit anytime he shows his face in public, if not on trial at the Hague for his influence on recent foreign policy. It’s perfectly possible to be “fair” to your guests without acting like old high-school buddies, and the real-world consequences of their words and actions should carry far more weight than their savoir vivre and sense of humor.