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Interview With Jon Stewart

Aired June 25, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. Great way to end the week. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show. He can make you laugh at the news like nobody else. We're going cover it all. We'll take your calls. My man, Jon Stewart for the hour is up next on "LARRY KING LIVE."


KING: It's a great pleasure. What a way to wind up our week in New York with Jon Stewart the anchor of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." "The Daily Show," won the 2003 Emmy Awards for outstanding variety music or comedy series and for outstanding writing for a variety music and comedy series. "The Daily Show" earned the Peabody award for its indecision, 2000, it's coverage of the 2000 presidential election.

Jon has a book coming this fall. What's it called?

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": "America, the Book."

KING: "America, the book."

STEWART: That is right, a tone of nation building, if you will.

KING: What's the title, Jon?

STEWART: "America, the book".

KING: That is the title?

STEWART: That is the title.

KING: And it's coming -- due when?

STEWART: It's due in September.

KING: You've completed it then?

STEWART: Oh it's -- not yet, but it's coming out in September. No, it's almost completely done. It's written by myself and all of the writers in "The Daily Show" and Ben Karlin and D.J. Javerbaum our executive producer and head writer, and I think you're really going to enjoy it. You'll about half of it.

KING: We use Mo a lot.

STEWART: Mo Rocca, very funny man.

KING: He's going to be our man at conventions.

STEWART: Can I tell you something, I appreciate you acting interested in me the night after you had the president on. I think that's really sweet.

KING: Hey, wait a minute.

STEWART: You're focused like this.

KING: Each night is a new night. That's past. This is present. I focus on you. You count.

STEWART: That is the most profound thing I think I've ever heard in my life. But I will say this, I do think you are phoning in a little bit, because if I may just to the people, there's nothing in my cup. You have coffee, you're taken care of, you're pampered and you're in the good chair with the nice comfy and I sit...

KING: There was something in Clinton's cup.

STEWART: I'm sorry, did the president drink everything?

Is that what happened?

KING: No, he had diet something, Diet Pepsi or Coke something.

Are you mad?

STEWART: I'm not mad, it diminishes me.

KING: It was not my fault. Maybe the crew has let you down.

STEWART: But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) accountability. The buck stops where? With me?

KING: What do you think of the book in the Clinton book?

STEWART: I'm loving it. I'm on page 4,380 right now and just up to where he enters elementary school. Some wonderful anecdotes. I had three of my friends and I bought it and they helped me carry it home. And I'm actually I'm trying to dig through it and I'm going to live in it.

KING: What do you make of the people -- now I was told this by a friend today in L.A., he's signing books as we speak in L.A., they're lined up blocks and blocks. Police protection from where he is to the freeway.


KING: It's like a mile and a half. Explain that.

STEWART: These people also sign up for EST. I mean, this is Los Angeles. These people, you tell them to do anything and they're there. They're like lemmings. It's an insane place.

KING: They lined up in New York.

STEWART: No, he's a very popular -- he's a very popular man. A very popular -- a very popular president. I personally don't understand the whole -- I mean, people waited overnight.

KING: Yes, explain it.

STEWART: Now, I can see that with Harry Potter. It's a new story, it's a fantasy you haven't read it yet. This happened while we were alive. You're literally waiting overnight to open up the book and go, I remember that. I was alive during that.

KING: Do you think we -- do you think the collective we, we miss him?

STEWART: As a person?

I think so.

KING: On the scene.

STEWART: I think he's an incredibly charismatic and certainly bright man. I think there's always, no matter when you listen to him you are engaged and repulsed. Engaged in that sense of you brilliant smart man who could have done so much, zip it up.

KING: Zip it up.

STEWART: Do you know what I mean?

KING: So you get angry?

STEWART: You get angry because it's, you are so -- so needing of that inspiration and that leadership and that mind and that intelligence and so angry that it would be wasted on such a trifle thing.

KING: Monica Lewinsky...

STEWART: Not to suggest Monica Lewinsky is a trifle. I certainly don't want to hurt her.


KING: In an interview with British TV today, she said that Clinton's description of their affairs an insult to anyone who reads it. Also says that Clinton destroyed her once the liaison became known.

STEWART: She is going to come out now with a line of grief handbags. Hopefully she can knit her way to health. I don't know the woman. I'm sure she's very nice, but quite frankly, I find that if I'm embroiled in a scandal I tend to not go on British television if I don't have to. If I want to heal and be left alone, I tend to perhaps go off and try and find my way inconspicuously in the world as opposed to say going to parties where they might describe he as a portly pepper pot?

KING: Would you book her on "The Daily Show?"

STEWART: I would not.

KING: Would not?

STEWART: I would not.

KING: Have no interest, not curiosity about it?

STEWART: I have no interest.

Curiosity in what sense?

KING: About her life. About what she got herself into, the events that occurred around her.

STEWART: I am very familiar with what she got herself into. I have gotten myself into that with people that I know.

KING: Elaborate.

STEWART: Sex, isn't it? You never?

How many times -- you've been married like 28 times. You never had -- come on, you've got kids!

KING: Okay, yes.

STEWART: Am I going to have to draw this for you?


STEWART: But do you know what I'm saying?

Why is anyone interested in what she does?

KING: Because she's a victim and a participant and she's a footnote in history.

STEWART: Footnote in history is the perfect way to describe her and that should close the book. Footnote in history. Thank you. Finally we have some perspective.

KING: Did you watch him last night here?

STEWART: Yes, did I watch him last night. I watch you every night, Larry.

KING: You are loyal and I love you.

STEWART: I'm very loyal.


STEWART: I'm a very loyal fan and I call all of the time and I never get through the screeners.

KING: They don't let you in.

STEWART: The screeners never let me through.

KING: Do you act like a wacko or something? Are you...

STEWART: I just -- I tell them what's on my mind and they thank me for my time and send me on my way.

KING: All right, let's just get into other things.

STEWART: All right.

KING: The transition takes place.

STEWART: All right, sir.

KING: June 30, Iraq.

STEWART: The handover.

KING: The handover.

STEWART: It's great. I'm a big handover guy. I'm a big sovereignty guy. I love handing over sovereignty. I prefer to hand it over knowing who I'm giving it to, but I like the way this administration's doing it. They're just saying, we're just handing it over. Maybe it will be a raffle. Maybe it will be the eighth caller. We don't know yet. It's very exciting.

KING: Sort of like a lottery.

STEWART: That's exactly right because nation building, why not give yourself a challenge with this?

Anybody can build a nation.

KING: In other words, are you saying just walk away?

Just leave them or just...

STEWART: Isn't that what handing over sovereignty is or wait, are we staying?

KING: Yes, we're staying.

STEWART: Son of a gun. I, no idea. No, I like the guy that we're giving it to, Allawi, I think he's -- you know, apparently did good work as a CIA operative and hopefully -- because Chalabi's out, right?

KING: You call it -- you call it a giant Mesopotamia. STEWART: That is correct, sir.

KING: Explain it.

What do you mean?

STEWART: A giant Mesopotamia?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: Mesopotamia, it's the fertile crescent, it's where life originated and we've gone in there and scrambled it up a little bit.

KING: Do you think it was an error to go?

STEWART: Do I think it was an error?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: Well, I established my war cabinet, you know, years ago when we talk about this sort of thing. You know, there have been four justifications that I've heard so far for the war and you tell me if I'm wrong about this. There was the weapons of mass destruction. There was the ties to al Qaeda. There was the oppressed his own people. And there was one other in there somewhere. Weapons of mass destruction, ties to al Qaeda, possible nuclear. OK.

KING: Support terrorism.

STEWART: That describes like five countries. So if that is the standard that we've set to go into a war, shouldn't we also be...

KING: North Korea.

STEWART: Iran, Sudan, aren't they all doing the exact same thing and have maybe closer ties to al Qaeda, even?

KING: How do you know they're not next?

STEWART: What have you heard?

KING: We'll be right back. We'll take your calls later for Jon Stewart.

STEWART: Am I being drafted?

KING: Get home, there's a letter for you with no stamp.

STEWART: Oh, boy.

KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there had been no Kenneth Starr, if we had different kind of people I would have said here are the facts, I'm sorry. Deal with it however you please.

STEWART: If there had been no Ken Starr people would have confessed. You know, I'll say this for Bill Clinton, his integrity is at his highest when the situation is at its most hypothetical.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know if you can see that or not.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are terrorist bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.

BUSH: What was it like September 11, 2001, it was a -- there was a relative calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But your response to Iraq.

BUSH: Let me finish, please. You asked the questions and I'll answer them f you don't mind.


KING: What do you make of that exchange, the Irish being feisty.

STEWART: I'm sure she had a little boop-boop. Every day's St. Patty's day. You know how that goes.

KING: OK, let's discuss other things. We'll take calls in a while. We love having you on, Jon, you should have you on more often.

STEWART: Let me tell you something, ever since you had the president on you've really changed.

KING: What are you talking about? I've had him on many times.

STEWART: You're a little too big for your suspenders right now, quite frankly.

KING: I've had many presidents on, Jon.

OK. Here we go, the vice president cursed out the Senator Leahy of Vermont, what do you make of that?

STEWART: I think it's probably the nicest, perhaps conversation that a Republican and a Democrat have had in Capitol Hill for quite some time.

KING: He told him to go blank himself.

STEWART: Yes. KING: That's encouraging to you?

STEWART: I think so. The encouraging thing to me is knowing the Republican platform against gay acts to tell him to go f-himself, I thought, was a real advance.

KING: Oh, I see. It's progress.

STEWART: I think it's them opening up their hearts to a different lifestyle. It's Cheney. He said it. It's all about tone. What he said was, go F yourself, I'd like to see that.

KING: Oh, I see! So, you always have a way of looking at things that helps us.

STEWART: Have you had Cheney on, is he...

KING: He's been on the show.

STEWART: Is he a pleasant man, because he seems like, and again I've never met him.

KING: I've known him a long time, he's not unpleasant. He's been very good to our cardiac foundation.


KING: He was an honorary chairman.

STEWART: You know, self-interest is a great motivator. If I was him I'd be a member of your cardiac foundation, too, you know what I mean. In fact, I'd be hanging out there every day going, you guys got anything? Anything today?

KING: OK, now let's switch things...

STEWART: When I see him, and this is again (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he seems like a murderous cyborg.

KING: A what?

STEWART: Like the robot, but with murderous intentions.

KING: I see.

OK, now we slide into the Democrats. Mr. Kerry. What do you make of John?

STEWART: What a tremendous -- I have no idea what he's doing. Have you heard from him? Apparently he left for the heartland to discuss healthcare and that was the end of it. That was a month and a half ago. The last time I saw him he was just stand it up going "Bring It On!"

He has that rhythm, that sort of "Night of the Living Dead," you know that must eat brains! bring it oh! KING: Didn't you have him on at all?

STEWART: No, we haven't had him on yet. Very surprising, because our show is all about world leaders.

KING: Didn't you have him in the Senate?

STEWART: In the Senate? What am I C-Span 2? No, I didn't have him on when he was on the Senate!

KING: No, but he's a regular guest on many shows. He's about been on the show many times.

STEWART: Why do you keep throwing that in my face?

KING: Because I thought he'd be on your show.

STEWART: You say, I've had presidents, I've had things. Have you had anybody from the cast of "Dawson's Creek?" Because I've had almost all of them.

KING: I had one on radio some time back.

OK. The sweepstakes for veep.


KING: What advice would you give the senators to who he should select to be his runningmate?

STEWART: What advice would I give? ?

KING: If he asked.

STEWART: What I would say is senator, are we role playing?

KING: OK. We're role playing.

STEWART: Senator?

KING: Yes?

STEWART: It doesn't matter.

KING: What do you mean it doesn't matter?

STEWART: It doesn't matter. Would you vote for vice president.

KING: Should I put...

STEWART: George Bush's father won with Dan Quayle. Tell me that's not an albatross. Was he trying to just like -- you know what I almost think that was, picking Dan Quayle? That was taunting the Democrats, that was saying, I can beat you with this knucklehead. I can beat you with this guy on my back.

I like Edwards.

KING: Dynamic, vital, right? Good campaigner.

STEWART: I said I like. You apparently like-like. You're in love with him.

KING: No, stop it!

STEWART: The thing about Edwards is, the only thing I worry about for Edwards is, he seems untainted by the political process and I believe it may crush his spirit. And that's the only thing they worry about for him.

KING: He's untainted.

STEWART: Yes. I hate to see a boy like that's heart crushed when he gets to be the vice president and he realizes he has to tell Senators to f-off. That is actually a vice presidential duty within the constitution. State funerals.

KING: Break a tie in the Senate.

STEWART: Break a tie in the Senate. And any Senator that you don't like you have to throw him the f-bomb.

KING: What happened to Howard Dean?

STEWART: Oh, he went nutty. He lost it.

KING: That night he just lost it?

STEWART: No. You know, the guy -- he was never going to get to be nominated as president and that one speech was, if not an aberration, at least it was just an example of the lack of discipline.

See, it's very clear with these guys. And you see it with Cheney when he gets caught telling the f-bomb. Their public persona and their private persona. All of this should have been put to rest in terms of the insanity of the leaders when we listened to Nixon's tapes. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Nixon would sit in a room with Kissinger and go, "those Jews." And Kissinger was just sitting there, like, "well sir, there's something I need to tell you." You know what I mean?

When you get a glimpse behind the facade that they put up, they're completely different people and we should stop pretending that they're not and they should have to stop pretending that they are these paragons of virtue and beacons of decency, and somehow be yourself. Cheney honestly is the personification of a grumble. Like when he walks around -- Wilfred Brimley is not that upset at the world. He just literally walks around, "there are things going on. I used to be able to eat cheese burgers and bacon, now I can't have anything else and it's crazy -- f-off!" He's, like, you know?

KING: So are you saying that all politicians hide themselves from us, their real selves? Is that what you're saying?

STEWART: Please tell me you didn't just ask me that.

You are part and part, you know that.

KING: But wait a minute, are saying, therefore, it's impossible for a politician to be great?

STEWART: That is correct. That is correct. Because they are -- you know what it is? They should come out of the closet. It's like gay people. When gay people feel like they have to be closeted and they come out and a huge burden is lifted off their shoulders. Politicians should come out of the closet.

KING: Be honest.

STEWART: I've got news for you, I'm staying married to her just so you won't think I'm a bad man! But, man, I'm the vice president and I'm the president and I want to dance and have parties. Just come out, just unburden yourself and the whole country will be so much less pathological.

KING: They'll probably elect you.

STEWART: Look at Jack Ryan.

KING: He quit today.

STEWART: He quit today. Why?

KING: Because his wife took her to sexual places and wanted her to perform undue acts.

STEWART: Exactly. So a sex scandal now is what might have happened? what you kind of wanted? We won't have a House of Representatives if that's the case.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be back. We'll include your phone calls with Jon Stewart.

STEWART: I'm disgusted! I'm leaving.

KING: Of "The Daily Show" who is walking out on LARRY KING LIVE and another historic moment in order to top last night's show, he walks off. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.


STEWART: For the record, the 9/11 commission said of the alleged Iraq Atta encounter, or meeting, "we do not believe that such a meeting occurred. But, still, that's OK, because Vice President Cheney never said such a meeting occurred. He just said that he couldn't prove that it hadn't." He never acted like Atta had had that meeting and that meeting had been confirmed. Am I right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would have said in the past that it was, quote, "pretty well confirmed."

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I never said that. I never said that. Absolutely not.

STEWART: He absolutely never said that. Hmmm.

CHENEY: It's been pretty well confirmed that he did get to go Prague and he did meet a senior official of the Iraq intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April.




DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Well, Ralph Nader last week announced his vice presidential candidate. Ralph Nader announced his vice presidential runningmate for the election. In a related story, a tree fell in a forest and no one was there to hear it.


KING: Good line. With Jon Stewart. What do you make of Ralph Nader and that campaign.

STEWART: Ralph Nader has said that he's not a spoiler for the Democrats, that he's going to pull a lot of Republicans and he really wants to pull some conservatives. And he says there's actually a pretty substantive conservative block. And I think that's real silly.

But I do think there are some -- I think that conservatives for Nader is probably equal in size to the group retarded death row inmates for Bush. Maybe two on each side.

KING: OK. Let's go to some calls. To Birdsborough, Pennsylvania. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Mr. Stewart, I'm a huge fan of Jon and "The Daily Show."

STEWART: Oh, thanks.

CALLER: Wish I could write for you. I have a question about the upcoming convention.


CALLER: The last presidential candidates who won the presidency that came out of the conventions were for the Democrats, Carter and Clinton. And for the Republicans, Ford, Reagan and the Bush boys. My question is, do the Democrats just automatically pick the smartest guy in the room and the Republicans choose the dumbest?

STEWART: What? But everybody out of the conventions. Dukakis came out of the conventions and he got crushed. I'm not quite sure.

KING: She's implying that Republicans are sort of stupid people and Democrats select bright people.

STEWART: Oh, OK. That's how the partisanship works in this country now. Everybody's -- if you're on my team, you're smart, if you're on their team...

KING: Are we an angrier country?

STEWART: I think that politically we are, but I think in the country, we're not. I think the country is probably more moderate and reasonable in general than the atmosphere has become. There's a conflict economy.

You said it best and it was something just in the break that I think sums up sort of where we've gone with our debate culture which is someone here was saying they had a couple of people talking about "Fahrenheit 9/11" and you said oh, did both sides debate it. And that's what we take for granted.

KING: Did both sides see it?

STEWART: Right. Do both sides see it. And that's what we've done is basically -- conversation in this country, debate in this country is from the right and the left and there's ten different kinds of coke. You're telling me the only two opinions we've got is right and left? Even a graph has a Y axis.

I don't understand how we ended up in this place where it's considered decent news analysis to do an event and then say from the right guy and from the left that guy. Thanks. When did the journalists become a referee? And why doesn't that person have the ability to say, stop lying about that, you know, police it. Be our -- help us!

KING: Also the radio talk shows they're very...

STEWART: Help us! Help us!

KING: All right, I'll help. Tampa, hello?

CALLER: Hi. Jon, would you consider joining John Kerry on the ticket to run as vice president?

STEWART: That is an excellent question. I would consider it, unfortunately, there are some photos of me that would preclude me even from working at the post office, quite frankly.

KING: Would you ever run for office?

STEWART: Would I ever run for office?

KING: Yes, really?

STEWART: No. I make a lot of money writing jokes. I get to go home, nobody bothers me. I don't have to get people to vote on things.

KING: What about helping your country.

STEWART: Who? Country? Pah -- they're not, why should i?

KING: Danville, Georgia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Jon. I want to say that I love your attitude.

STEWART: Thank you.

CALLER: I think you're right on and I think you should write a book.

KING: He has. It will be out in September.

CALLER: I'll buy it. What I'd like to say is actually a question, do you think we should have ever went into Iraq?

STEWART: We were talking about that earlier. You know, it's an interesting question, because I'm not a pacifist in any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, I like bombing countries.

KING: You do?

STEWART: Well, just purely for the knowledge of geography. It's just fascinating to learn about these countries.

KING: And you do learn a lot more when you bomb them.

STEWART: Absolutely. I didn't know Kabul was the capital of Afghanistan until we started bombing it. And I thought to myself what a great fact. If we would haven't gone to war there, I certainly wouldn't have known that. And I think, for the kids today, it's important for them to learn geography. And I think, in an as violent a way as possible.

But I very much was for the war in Afghanistan and I thought I was excited about that and there was a moment in time where we were so rallied around the president and he had such an opportunity for greatness, and unfortunately his politics became a laboratory for an ideology that they're espousing and I think he lost people in that respect.

KING: Why do you think it's been so hard, Clinton said it last night, to get Osama bin Laden?

STEWART: Oh, he's a shape shifter.

KING: He's a what?

STEWART: Like on Star Trek.


STEWART: Some days he's Osama bin Laden, other days he's a lamp. And here's the other thing, too, when you have a beard, you have so many more disguise options than most people. He can trim it, he can go with a van dyke. Nobody expects that from bin Laden. He wears a headdress, and a long beard.

KING: He's the tallest guy in the country.

STEWART: But you're looking for Osama bin Laden with the long beard and the thing. Let's say a 6'6 guy comes by with a beret and a goatee? Who's that? It's bin Laden.

KING: Thousand Oaks, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi there.

STEWART: By the way, congratulations on your thousandth oak. I remember when it was in the 900s and they were really pushing and then they got it up. So, way to go. You tell the mayor.

CALLER: Thanks.

STEWART: You're welcome.

CALLER: I was wondering, Jon, have you seen "Fahrenheit 9/11" yet.

STEWART: I have seen it.

CALLER: You have? What's your comment?

STEWART: You know me, "Fahrenheit 9/11," personally, I'm much more partial to centigrade pictures, but I'm a metric guy. I always have been.

KING: I knew it. You favor D.C. Over A.C. during that contest.

STEWART: Everybody knows that. I'm always happy when people bring their point of view out and try to get it across. I don't agree with everything in it and it's a great piece of editorial filmmaking.

KING: He's good at what he does.

STEWART: He's very good at what he does. And it's not for everybody, but I think I very much root for, especially now in the sort of atmosphere of -- there's sort of this weird hierarchy of retorts that the people in power have gone to. One was they just tell you, there's weapons of mass destruction there and then we find out that they're not so they switch the rationale which is, we're going to liberate the people. When you argue that, the next thing is we're in a war. People really shouldn't talk a lot when they're in a war.

So anybody that is just pushing the debate out into the fore I'm applauding of that.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Jon Stewart and more of your phone calls. Don't go away.


CHENEY: The president declared that we would take the war to the enemy and he established the Bush doctrine which holds that any person or regime that harbors or supports terrorists is equally guilty of terrorist crimes and will be held to account.

STEWART: Yes, the Bush doctrine. Holding regimes that harbor terrorists to account. The doctrine, of course, also carries the Bush asterisk, which simply states doctrine not valid in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria and...




KING: We're back with Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," one of the most awarded program programs in television history.

STEWART: Not just television awards as well, we were recently awarded the bronze star for bravery.

KING: Bronze star.

STEWART: I got nothing.

KING: Why are we moving the cup around. The LARRY KING LIVE cup. You are placing it in different positions.

STEWART: Yes, I just wanted to test out -- no, I'm not necessarily manic, but I used to smoke a lot and now I don't, so I fidget.

KING: Oh, I see.

STEWART: So, that's my difficult.

KING: Before we take more calls.

What do you think about religion in politics?

STEWART: I think it should be there, but more. It's just not there enough.

KING: More?

STEWART: Yes. I feel like, you know, I feel like the best thing to do is to convince the country that our God is the one true God and that others are less.

KING: American God, you mean?

STEWART: Yes. The one that blesses us for our manifestness.

KING: He doesn't bless England.

STEWART: No. No. He doesn't care for them. He feels that they're pasty.

KING: Pasty?

STEWART: Pasty and he doesn't care for the food.

KING: But Canada.

STEWART: Happy to have them in the attic, but not so crazy about them in general.

KING: He's a judgemental God.

STEWART: Very angry. Loves the Americans. Very big. Wants us to have bigger cars. Wants us to have bigger cars and as a little goof on us has only made a finite supply of oil. It's very -- he's very funny. He's a trickster. Here's another little joke he did. He promised three different religions they were the chosen ones, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and then, funny, follow me, he put their holiest sites all in the same place. And then he backed away and he just wants to see who wants it more. That's what this is about. This is God going, hey, show me something, people.

KING: You kind of like him. You kind of like playing.

STEWART: I enjoy the mischief that he's making.

KING: Houston, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Jon.


CALLER: I'm just wondering why when people see one of "The Daily Show" correspondents like Stephen Colbert.

STEWART: Yes, Stephen Colbert, a very talented man.

CALLER: Very, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or Rob Corddry.

STEWART: Very talented.

CALLER: Why don't they just run the other way?

How do you get those segments?

STEWART: That's an excellent question.

KING: Why do they?

STEWART: People love to be on the TV, and if you show up with a camera they will sit and talk to you.

KING: No matter how they're embarrassed or what. STEWART: Have you seen the Jerry Springer Show.

KING: That's where they -- yes, I've seen Jerry Springer. They volunteer.

STEWART: That's not coercive. That's not Abu Ghraib. That's people wanting to be on the TV. And we do a much -- we just let them say what they're going to say and just know that we have the edit room. But for the most part they get to speak their mind. We don't change the content.

KING: Will same-sex marriage be an issue in the campaign?

STEWART: Same-sex marriage is a very difficult situation and I was freaked out by it too. You know that.

KING: Why?

STEWART: Well, until I found out that it wasn't mandatory, because I love my wife and I'd hate to have to leave her for a dude. So I didn't want that.

KING: You thought it was mandatory.

STEWART: You never know. I don't know what -- they said the gay marriage and people got upset, so I figured, well clearly this means that there's a law being passed that we all now have to be gay.

KING: Oh, I see.

STEWART: Once it was explained to me that only gay people, I seem much more comfortable with it. It doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore.

KING: You think it will be an issue?

STEWART: Oh, I think, they'll try to make it an issue. It's one of those wonderful red herrings that people throw into elections like as though that will in any way be crushing the culture. It's like the 10 Commandments Issue. That's another one that's culturally divisive and societally meaningless. Putting the 10 commandments in the school and that way kids won't shoot each other, because they'll come with an AK-47 and go, thou shall not kill. You know, I really have got to look at this thing.

KING: Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead. Speak up

STEWART: They're bilingual.


STEWART: Oh, is that a delay? KING: Yes, we have a delay.

STEWART: What he said was...

KING: Don't say what he said.

STEWART: He praised us.

KING: Here's what he said.

STEWART: What he said was. What he said to us was.

KING: What a great show.

STEWART: He basicly paraphrased Dick Cheney to Pat Leahy, but was to referring to us instead.

KING: Yes, he was referring to us instead.

STEWART: Surprisingly to see that from Canada. They're typically very pleasant.

KING: I know.

Sudbury, Massachusetts, Hello.

CALLER: Jon, you're brilliant. We watch your the show every night.

STEWART: Oh, thank you. Someone has to.

CALLER: I just want to know what the shows plans are for covering the convention up in Boston.

KING: Yes, what are your plans?

STEWART: It's an excellent question. As a fake news organization.

KING: Correct.

STEWART: And the conventions obviously being a fake news event, we are the only ones on the same level. So we'll be covering it. We'll have extensive coverage.

KING: You're going to Boston?

STEWART: We're going to Boston, baby.

KING: And where will you be set up?

STEWART: It doesn't really matter because we don't actually have access passes. So...

KING: You mean, you can't get in?

STEWART: That is correct.

KING: So, wait a minute, "The Daily Show" has no reportorial credential.

STEWART: First of all, I don't like words that big. Second of all, we have -- what we do is we have a green screen and we'll take a picture of outside the convention center and then we'll just stick our guys in front of it and just say we're from there.

KING: But that's fraud.

STEWART: Yes. Yes. Fraud. That is fraud. We are fraudulent and very pleasedly so. Here's the difference between us and the politicians. We will tell you we are frauds and they will pretend that they are not.

KING: Wait a minute, you will announce...

STEWART: We will announce that you are frauds.

KING: ... that you are in front of the green screen.

STEWART: That is exactly correct. No, no, no, we'll say we're from the convention.


STEWART: Oh, yes. Absolutely. It's that duplicitous. We will be in Boston, but we will not be in the convention. We're just going to take pictures of various area's and put them up on the green screen.

KING: How about New York, right here at The Garden.

STEWART: That one we're not going to go to.

KING: At all?

STEWART: It's too close.

No, are the Republicans really coming to New York?

KING: Yes, they are. Having a big party in this building.

STEWART: This is -- this is gay, sex, hippie central.

This is -- what are they -- they should call it the Republican National Convention?

KING: San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Jon, you take most of your material from the day's headlines. The first comedian they remember doing that who I still love is Mort Sahl.

STEWART: Mort Sahl!

CALLER: He simply sat on the stool with a rolled up newspaper. My question is are you a student of his work and is he an influence?

STEWART: It's an excellent question.

KING: Good question.


KING: A different generation?

STEWART: No, I've never really seen him work.

KING: You, never seen him work?


KING: How old...

STEWART: I mean, I do read the newspapers in some respects I am.

KING: How old were you in the '60s?

STEWART: How old was I?

KING: Yes, in the '60s?

STEWART: Depends on the 60's. I mean, if you say '61 I was not born.


STEWART: So, 62 I was born, so then I was zero.

KING: So, that's -- you wouldn't appreciate Sahl (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 6 months.

STEWART: Let me put it this way. When Kennedy died, I cried but for a completely different reason.

I was tired and I'd just gone in my pants.

KING: But you wouldn't have appreciated Mort Sahl. You were too young.

STEWART: That is exactly right. But I do remember some in '67 and '68, that's when my consciousness, the voter registration drives in Alabama, and Mississippi, I was on the "Freedom Rides."

KING: How could you been there, you were 6-years-old.

STEWART: I was -- I was the guy. If you look at it, there's a guy in a big wheel. He's in the back. KING: That's you.

STEWART: That's me. That's me.

KING: So you got.

STEWART: Registering other kids to vote.

KING: This early?

STEWART: Larry, I'm a very impressive person.

KING: By the way, I asked you this before.

STEWART: Abu Ghraib? You want to talk about Abu Ghraib, or Abu Grief, as the president would say.

KING: I'll talk about that, what do you make of the prison scandal?

STEWART: First of all, it's not a scandal, it's not...


STEWART: I absolutely can pronounce it. They have reclassified it as not abusive torture, but freedom tickling and I think that is a much better -- it's much more palatable to the Arab world.

KING: Do you think that order came from on high? Do you really think a responsible leader would order torture?

STEWART: Well, again, as you've seen from the documents it depends what the definition of torture is and, you know, they did say that making a person feel as though they're going to die imminently or the family will die won't be good, but if they have to stand naked for four hours straight with an unmuzzled dog next to them, is that torture or is that -- by the way head over to Riverside Park, you could have the same thing. Same experience. Unmuzzled dogs, naked guy. That's all I'm saying!

But my point is, there has clearly been a discussion in the administration -- look, there is a different security paradigm, there's no question about that, but it is -- the righteousness. You know, it's so interesting, I was watching the show right before yours where Cheney was on Neil Cavuto's show.

KING: He was on that show today, yes.

STEWART: Yes, he was on that show today. By the way -- have you watched it very friendly balance. They report and then you are at your leisure to decide.

KING: To decide.

STEWART: Because it's fair and balanced. So he's on there and he's talking about how he's not really apologetic about the other thing. What are we talking about? The torture.

KING: Torture, but you switched to Neil Cavuto.

STEWART: He was very upset, because someone impugned his integrity and they love to throw that bravado up when you impugn your integrity, but there's a great deal of evidence that we need to examine a little bit further that maybe -- there's this sense of how dare you question them. And that is the thing that I almost find more appalling than the decisions that they make. Because I can accept incompetence, but I cannot accept self-righteous incompetence. That's the difficulty

KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart. Don't go away.


STEWART: I don't know if you've heard this, but Saudi Arabia, our good close allies in the war on terror, they're offering a month- long amnesty program for terrorists. So there you have it! You've got one month and then it's -- and then the free ride is over!

If you've ever bombed anyone, hijacked a plane, maybe engaged in the occassional taking and killing of people, what a great opportunity! No! No! Terrortunity.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are have been reports various contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to result in a collaborative relationship.

STEWART: Well, I think we all know the real reason why Saddam and al Qaeda's collaboration failed.


STEWART: The ties between -- that's been a great semantic argument, don't you think?

KING: The dies that bind.

STEWART: The ties. Do they have ties, do they not have ties, are they collaborative ties. What kind of ties. Are they collaborative ties, what kind of ties. It's really an interesting -- I think it's a wonderful semantic argument.

KING: By the way, on a personal note, my daughter Kaia is an immense fan of yours.

STEWART: Oh, that's very nice of you.

KING: She's like fanatic, never misses a show. STEWART: That's wonderful.

KING: I just thought I'd throw that in.

STEWART: I can't get her a job, if that's what this is about.

KING: Would you stop.

STEWART: It's just interesting, that's all.

KING: You gave a commencement address at William and Mary and you told the graduates, I want to quote this, you told the graduates, "they're the next greatest generation if they win the war on terror."

STEWART: I never said that. Absolutely not. F-off.

KING: Did you say that?

STEWART: I did say that, yes. But it's out of context. What I said was I had something to tell them about the real world and that we broke it and that we were really sorry and we knew that we were supposed to bequeath a better world to the next generation, but it just kind of got away from us between, you know, the easy Internet profits and the endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise and the whole thing went...

KING: Did you go to William and Mary.

STEWART: No I just gave it at alma mater, but I never went there. Larry?

KING: Wait a minute. I didn't say -- I didn't know you went to William and Mary.

STEWART: I went to William and Mary.

KING: I know you gave the commencement address.

STEWART: I gave the commencement address there because it was my alma mater, absolutely.

KING: You can give a commencement address at other universities too, you know.

STEWART: I have not been told that. Have you done that?

KING: I never went to a university. Gotten honorary degrees. And I've spoken at many commencements.

STEWART: Never went. How many honorary degrees do you have?

KING: 5.

STEWART: So, I guess I don't have as many as you, so I guess I'm a lesser person.

KING: No, I didn't say you were a lesser person. It's just that you can be invited to schools other than the school that you went to.

STEWART: So, I guess a liquid free mug and 1 honorary doctorate means I'm not the president.

KING: Was William there or Mary?

STEWART: Don't start with me.

KING: You went to school with Michael Powell.

STEWART: I went to school with Michael Powell.

KING: Colin's son.

STEWART: Yes, but at the time he was not the head of the FCC. I think that came in junior year. But the interesting thing about the honorary doctorate that's so nice is it's so rewarding to finally get an honorary doctorate or a doctorate without doing anything. And really, as you're looking in the eyes of the other doctoral candidates who have struggled for so long, you really see them congratulate you. So it's a beautiful feeling.

KING: Arlington, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Jon. I was wondering what impact you think "The Daily Show" has on young people, particularly regarding their political participation?

STEWART: On young people?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: I think it rots your brains.

KING: You must scew very well demographically.

STEWART: Yes. On cable I don't think it matters so much. I don't know how it affects young people, because in the same way you probably don't know how it affects your audience.

KING: How it effects, we don't know.

STEWART: Yes, you're in a bubble.

KING: I mean, we think it effects.

STEWART: Well you hope that they like it.

KING: But do you think it might cause someone to say, he's right I'm going to vote for X.

STEWART: I would doubt that, because it's not -- the message that we put into the show for the young people is subliminal and it's all about Communism. So I don't think that's -- oh, yes. No that's what's in there. That's what's threaded in there, but at a very subconscious level. Every eight seconds we flash a picture of Trotsky.

KING: So your show is a bastion of anticommunism.

STEWART: Oh, absolute pro-communism. And anti-czar. It's really one or the other. It's anti-czar, but that's what we infuse into the show.

KING: Like, you don't like Gorbachev.

STEWART: Oh, no. Openness, no, not for us. As a matter of fact, our rallying cry after is, "Mr. Gorbachev, put that wall back up!" Let's get some mortar.

No. You know, they always talk about young people. The best way to get young people involved in politics, it's the simplest thing in the world and it's easy to do and I think any politician who's listening in this, reinstitute the draft, oh will voter turnout rise. You will see an amazing increase in -- I mean, why should they pay that much attention?

They're not, you know. I'm not worried about this next generation, believe me, the 18 to 24-year-olds. Those people that I've met, they're very smart. They're very engaged. The fact that they vote in the same percentages that we all voted at that age is fine.

KING: Orange County, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Jon, I want to say your show is fabulous.

STEWART: Thank you.

CALLER: I just wanted to know if -- well when -- why do you think our reporters stopped asking the really difficult questions of our politicians.

STEWART: Why the reporters did?


STEWART: I think that's such a wonderful question. I have -- I wish I knew.

KING: You think reporters at like press conferences don't ask...

STEWART: I believe -- I believe what's happened is they've all become part of the same organism and no longer see themselves as an another. And by no longer being an other you have a stake, a sort of in the symbiosis of it and I think that's where the difficulty came. The idea, that they fear loss of access or promotion. Journalist have become stars. And your stardom is about who you can get, and by getting the right person you allow yourself to keep advancing and therefore, you can never -- then the power -- the paradigm has switched.

TV was better than the politicians in 1960. When it first came out and the politicians didn't know how to manipulate it. It was the Nixon-Kennedy debate. And Nixon went, I look great, what do you mean? I'm a little sweaty and pasty, but what's that going to matter?

And then politicians learned it how to manipulate the medium and manipulate new cycle and TV has never caught up, but they don't want to because they have no jeopardy. They're working for themselves instead of working for us anymore. I don't mean that in a bad way.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Jon -- that's a compliment, folks. We'll take it in stride. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Jon Stewart right after this.


STEWART: Man, it's one of those days in New York city. Isn't it beautiful? Absolutely perfect. Bright blue sky, big puffy white clouds, nice temperatures, a little breeze. So beautiful day in New York City, President Clinton was signing books naked.



KING: How time flies. We've got about two minutes left.

Powhatan, Virginia, hello.


KING: Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I happen to be at the commencement for William and Mary graduation where Jon received his honorary doctorate.

STEWART: Let me apologize right off the bat. Oh, is that.

KING: We wanted to hear the question.

STEWART: I just wanted to apologize because...

KING: Do you think she's going to be critical?

STEWART: I would think so.

CALLER: Oh, no, no, I have a very light and fluffy question to ask him.

KING: What is it.

STEWART: Light and fluffy. Jon, you said you lost your virginity in '81 and gained it back by appeal in '83.

STEWART: It was appealed by the woman, and it was -- the court awarded the virginity back '83, that is correct?

KING: Was that your question ma'am? CALLER: That was my question.

That is my burning question and where are the photos?

KING: OK, so you're saying commencement address they gave you an honorary degree.

You said you lost your virginity in '81 and got it back...

STEWART: On appeal in '83. I fought it for two years, I fought it through all the courts all of the way up, but they said, the final in the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, it was very close, party lines, saw my performance and said I'm afraid you still have your virginity.

KING: You chose this to address the future leaders of the world?

STEWART: I wanted to give them a sense of my world when I was at William and Mary. What I suggested to them was, I was not an attractive person, but I made up for it with somewhat repugnant personality. I just wanted to let them know that this was -- that anything that can happen.

KING: Jon.

STEWART: You can end up -- Sorry.

KING: We'll see you in Boston. We'll be inside, but you'll -- I'll catch you outside.

STEWART: We'll have a picture of you, and I'll act like I'm standing next to you. I had a nice time.

KING: Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show." I'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about the weekend, don't go away.


KING: Jon Stewart, what a treat. Tomorrow night we'll repeat our interview with Ron Reagan and have a tribute to the late Mattie Stepanek. And Sunday night we'll repeat our interview with President Clinton.

No repeats coming up, though. No, sir. NEWSNIGHT is live. And why is it live, because Aaron Brown insisted it's live because he's right on top of the scene. Something could break and he want's to be right on top of that breaking news. So, lets go right now to Aaron Brown. Aaron, it's your's.


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