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Interview with Jon Stewart

Aired December 8, 2004 - 21:00   ET


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Why do people agree to talk to us?


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" back for the first time since the election, making us laugh at all the news of the day like nobody else ever.

And now number one bestselling author, too. Jon Stewart, your phone calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Later on in the show, Mo Rocca will join us.

STEWART: I've heard very good things about that young man.

KING: Tonight we'll find out who tipped over the crib when Mo was a child. Someone in the family.

STEWART: Interesting. You get to the bottom of things. That's what I like about you.

KING: Yes, we do. "Publisher's Weekly" has named "America" its book of the year. It says -- this is the Bible of publishing -- beneath the eye catching and at times goofy graphics, the dirty jokes, the playful ingeniousness shines a serious critique of the two-party system, corporations that finance it and the spineless cowards in the press. The book also has an awesome forward by Thomas Jefferson. How did you get Tom to do that?

STEWART: What's he been doing? Absolutely nothing. He was jumping at the chance.

KING: Give me the genesis of this extraordinary book.

STEWART: Larry, you would be amazed at what you can accomplish when you start phoning in your show and stop working day to day on the program. It frees up suddenly all this time to write a book. We wanted to write a book that was sort of counterintuitive to all of the polemics, you know, most of the political books that were coming out were more those Joseph McCarthy was a gentle teddy bear of a man. The Japanese internment, they won free rent for a year. All these polemics, liberals are this and conservatives are this. So we thought, what is the least emotional format that you can do for some sort of examination in the political system, and clearly a textbook.

KING: Are you shocked by its success?

STEWART: Yes, aren't you?

KING: Well, everyone is. It's a nightly cable show for a half hour and you're on the front cover of magazines and you've got the hottest book in the country.

STEWART: When "Publisher's Weekly" did that, we were so excited because we thought they were the ones that gave away the $10 million. Turns out that's Publisher's Clearinghouse.

KING: Are you now an author?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: Are you now an author?

STEWART: Yes, and as such, I am now going to be reclusive. I'm not even here. This is just an animatronic remote situation. I'm going to become the salinger of basic cable. Very difficult to find me.

KING: By the way, for our world audience, Jon does a global edition of "The Daily Show" on CNN International, airs Saturday and Sunday nights.

STEWART: Larry, they don't care. The world audience, they don't care about that. They have big problems out there. The dollar is down. They're not thinking, oh, I better Tivo that. They're not caring about my show.

KING: Let's get into some very serious issues. Let's get at it.

STEWART: Let's do it! You want a piece of this, King? I will be your monkey!

KING: You won't attack me, right?

STEWART: Attack is a very -- we said one thing in the book that I should apologize for. We said people come on your show to look for forgiveness and it's very easy to cry on your show because you smell like onions, and that is not the case. And I should make that case and I should make that clear right now. It's sort of like onions cut with (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Sort of a minty onion. That was the only mention. The other people really got hurt badly. I didn't even like reading it. I cringed when I read about some of these people.

KING: Wal-Mart has banned "America" because of the nude photos of the Supreme Court justices.

STEWART: And by the way, other people should have done the same. That is a disturbing, disturbing page. Do you want to open it? It's really quite upsetting. I don't know if they can show it. Does the FCC allow naked justices? KING: We don't do those.

STEWART: Let me tell you the most surprising thing about the naked justices.

And, again, this is me and you and people in subsaharan Africa Tivoing it. Anthony Scalia is swinging some pipe. I think everybody would be surprised by that. It is an absolute shock.

KING: Was there any doubt about putting that in?

STEWART: What we thought was the Supreme Court are the final defenders of the first amendment. They grant us the ability to creatively express ourselves. Why not degrade them for doing that? It's the ultimate meta sort of -- they have protected and given us the gift of free expression, and we have used it to soil their reputation. It's quite disturbing.

KING: Were you surprised what Wal-Mart did?

STEWART: No, because this is not a weapon. They sell more of the guns and other things. They're not interested in the books. Naked justices is very dangerous. You imagine if a kid got into that and saw that? That could scar them for life.

KING: Does it, in effect, help the book?

STEWART: The controversy?

KING: The fact that they banned it?

STEWART: That came out later. They ban a lot of things. And the Wal-Mart is not necessarily the only place you can sell books, from what I understand. I think it's becoming that. I think it will be the only place you can sell books or anything. I don't know if you've heard of their plans, all other stores are closing down. And Wal-Mart...

KING: Will be the only store.

STEWART: The only store and also the only place you can live.

KING: They will build communities.

STEWART: I don't know if this is true, but from what I understand, they built a Wal-Mart on a burial ground in Hawaii, like an ancient Hawaiian burial ground. You know you're big when you can just build over a burial ground and damn the consequences. What is that, a burial ground? That's going to be housewares. Done! Done!

KING: Are you enjoying being hot? Don't laugh. Come on, you're hot.

STEWART: It doesn't feel like when you're not hot.

KING: Come on, more people recognize you now. Come on. You know you're hot. Admit it. Just say it. I'm hot.

STEWART: You know as well as I do, you're just going to work and you go home. It's not like when I walk in the house, the wife doesn't go, I'm telling you, you're on fire. There's a big buzz around you by the refrigerator. A lot of people in the building have been coming up to say, stop making noise.

KING: It doesn't impress you, fame?

STEWART: No, because it's baseless. I understand that the only thing it affords me is more opportunity to do work. That's all it is. For fame's sake, that's not the part that is interesting. What's interesting is getting an opportunity to put out more crap. That's what it's all about. Now, this affords me -- wait till you see the next one. You think the naked Supreme Court justices is bad, the next thing is going to be horribly distasteful.

KING: What happened on "CROSSFIRE?" Let's show a clip of this.

STEWART: My what?

KING: "CROSSFIRE." Watch this, and we'll ask about it.


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackering?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me.

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is "Puppets Making Crank Phone Calls." What is wrong with you? You have a responsibility to the public discourse. You failed miserably. You need to go to one.


STEWART: I thought that went well. Let me explain what happened there.

KING: You're wearing the same shirt, by the way, is that it?

STEWART: That is honestly the saddest part about this whole thing. This is like doing the walk of shame. It's as though I actually stayed at CNN overnight. I got drunk and slept over and now I'm doing the walk of shame from "CROSSFIRE" to your show. What happened was -- and, again, this is something I haven't shared with anybody. I should explain myself. I'm on steroids, and one of the side effects is called roid rage. The side effects have been awful. I have terrible back acne, shriveled genitalia. What I didn't realize is when you take steroids, you're supposed to work out. I've just been taking them. So it's causing that kind of anger. I remember going on the "CROSSFIRE" set and saying hello to the host, and then waking up naked with my ass cheeks taped together on Connecticut Avenue. So I don't really know what happened.

KING: That's the last thing you remember?

STEWART: No, it was more like I wanted to get that off my chest more than anything else, you know?

KING: But it never let up.

STEWART: What didn't?

KING: The show, the whole segment.

STEWART: It was only, like, 15 minutes. It was "CROSSFIRE." I thought it was supposed to be -- it's named after what innocent bystanders get caught in during gang violence. I thought it was supposed to be that. Apparently the only people you're not supposed to put in the crossfire are the hosts of the "CROSSFIRE." But I will say this. I think the issues that were brought up finally started a discussion within the media of whether or not I'm too big for my britches, and I think that's the important thing.

KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart. We'll take a call from Bud Selig right after this.


STEWART: When you have people on for knee-jerk reactionary talk...

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST "CROSSFIRE": I thought you were going to be funny, come on.

STEWART: No, no. I'm not going to be your monkey.

CARLSON: What, go ahead.




STEWART: Ridge did show off his other terror fighting technique.

TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It is demonstrated, I think it's maturity in the sense that we have raised the threshold. No. 1, we haven't raised it nationally for almost a year. We hope we can continue that.


STEWART: The guy in charge of protecting America from terrorists just knocked wood.


KING: What do you make of the cabinet shuffle?

STEWART: I think it's an excellent chance for Rumsfeld who is staying to be sort of the 5th year senior. He's the guy that...

KING: Been around.

STEWART: Been doing a lot of drinking, hasn't been doing his work. He's got to stay.

I'm sad to see Ann Veneman leave. I thought she has done a hell of a job at Agriculture. When I look at the corn subsidies now as to what they were, I've got to say, she's done, I think -- what has she done? What have any of these people done?

I mean, it really is a remarkable statement that Rumsfeld is staying, arguably the least competent of all. I mean, Ridge was close, let's face facts, color-coded terror chart the only thing that could have been worse would be a musical terror chart. Tonight we're on (SINGING) la. But we may be raising it to (SINGING HIGHER NOTE) la.

But Rumsfeld, arguably, I think, by being a colossal failure has saved his job. To fire him would be to admit that the post-occupation -- the post-war Iraq has done badly.

KING: So, you're saying, in your opinion, him missing out on everything, his calling it wrong...

STEWART: Now he has to say. That's right. And I think if anybody else coming in would see that there's a lesson. If I'm the new guy coming into Agriculture.

KING: Fail.

STEWART: I make the orange crop go away.


STEWART: I go with the big citrus canker epidemic.

You didn't think I knew so much agriculture did you? I'm throwing you off here.

KING: What about Colin Powell even? Is he one of your favs?

STEWART: Colin Powell is everybody's favorite. He's all things to all men.

KING: Why do we love him?

STEWART: We love him, because we think he's reasonable. We love him because we think he's the one guy in the meetings going guys, guys, guys, we can't invade New Hampshire. It's one of our states!

Everyone assumes that Colin Powell is the guy behind the scenes fighting for reasonableness and all that. Who knows what the hell is going on?

KING: What's your take on red state, blue state?

STEWART: I think it's a fabulous way -- you know, I never thought there would be a way to reduce the nuance differences between people in this country to something easier than Republican, Democrat, or liberal, conservative. They've actually literally found a way to reduced it to just primary colors.

KING: You're either red or blue.

STEWART: You're red or blue.

Don't even worry about it. Don't try and think about what may be the difference be between us. It really does feel like an unreal scenario.

And by the way, as a blue stater, with a red stater, let's face facts, Massachusetts, you know, we were burning witches before they even thought about banning interracial dating. So if you want to talk about who's the original red staters, I think it's us. Northeast was all Puritans. We were the guys.

KING: That's right. Yet, for 119,000 votes, meager amount in that big an election, Kerry could have been president while losing the national popular vote by three million votes. Should we just have a popular vote?

STEWART: I think what we should do, Larry, again I've said this for years, at 5:00 p.m. on election night, we should walk outside and raise our hands for one of the 2 candidates and just have a helicopter fly over. I just think it would be easier.

The idea that some people vote on machines and other people pick a bamboo stick that's shorter than another, the whole thing is ridiculous. In general, I think the democracy here functions...

KING: Better than most.

STEWART: I think better than most, and I think really that's what we're aiming for. I think that our founding father, and if you look in the constitution, it says, there's one thing at the bottom that goes, I hope this goes well. There's a thing at the very bottom that says, and if you do anything, be better than Nigeria. I think is what they said. I think that was Madison.

KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart. We'll take your calls later. And at the end of the program, the analysis will be done by Mo Rocca. Don't go away.


STEWART: Yesterday was Afghanistan's chance to shine as Harmid Karzai was sworn in as the country's first ever democratically elected president. Not to mention it's best dressed for a night at the opera.

What doesn't go with a cape people!


You inauguration was attended by such leaders as, Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne and their gay daughter Donald Rumsfeld.




DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Now is the man taking the place of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to homeland security, the American people deserve a person who won't back down, that's why president Bush's choice for secretary of Homeland Security is, Ron Artest. A message from George W. Bush.

LETTERMAN: Boom. Boom.


KING: That was funny.

STEWART: That was funny.

KING: What do you make of this whole steroid business?

You're a fan. I'm a fan.

STEWART: I am a fan, and I'm shocked, quite frankly.

KING: Angered?

STEWART: Angered. What else am I?

KING: Pissed.

STEWART: Pissed.

KING: Ticked

STEWART: Thank you.

KING: At whom?

STEWART: Nobody, really. I don't care. Honestly. I want the Mets to win. If they don't win...

KING: If they were all on steroids...

STEWART: I don't care about them. They could get, you know, testicle tumors the size of cantaloupes, for all I care. I really, don't care. They're grown man. They can do whatever they want. They can come out pantless, smoking, tweaked on methamphetamine, just get on base.

Do you understand what I'm saying, I've got money on the game.

KING: Why do we -- or whoever the collective we are. Why are we so upset at this?

STEWART: Because we're idiots.


STEWART: Because we think about all the wrong issues. That's why when Janet Jackson's teat is exposed at the Super Bowl, people run around like the Hindenburg just hit the gas line. Like it's -- you know, we think about all the wrong things, that's what we do rather than solve the problems, we freak out by gay marriage. I mean, honestly, immorality, have you ever been in a gay marriage? I hope I'm not prying.

KING: No, I have not.

STEWART: I just thought law of averages. I mean, how many out of twenty, how many has it been?

KING: Stop!

STEWART: Well, 10 percent of the country is...

KING: Stop!

STEWART: All right.

KING: Ten percent of the country is gay.

STEWART: Yes, and you've been married 20 times, so I figured two of them had to be -- no?

KING: Why do you enjoy -- knowing you'll never beat that?

STEWART: All I'm saying is if the morality of this country -- if the problems of morality in this country are literally down to if dudes married, then we've one. Isn't. I mean, dudes marrying isn't even in the top 10 commandments. Adultery is a top 10'er, but that doesn't seem to be, you know, an issue. It's very -- it's interesting that these type of divergents, the culture wars I think are, there's something real there, but we don't ever actually deal with that. We deal with the sort of whether or not the 10 commandments can be posted in a school. I mean, if you think the 10 commandments being posted in a school is going to change behavior of children, then you think employees must wash hands is keeping the piss out of your happy meals. It's not.

KING: Jon.

STEWART: Did I say that? Am I allowed to say that? KING: I guess you said. It's cable, you can say it.

STEWART: You know what I'm saying? It's for show. It's all for show. It's an easy thing for politicians to jump on.

KING: What went wrong with John Kerry

STEWART: What happened?

KING: No. No. What happened in the election?


KING: You thought I heard a news item today.

STEWART: I really think if Kerry had just focused more, he could have defeated Nixon and had our troops out of Vietnam by '74.

KING: He made Vietnam too much of an issue?

STEWART: Do you think?

You know, so few people understand how the Tet offensive could have turned out differently. But I do think that, if you'd had only gotten Kissinger and McNamara on his side, he'd turn this whole thing around. No, I think that ultimately there is -- I will say that that there's an authenticity problem that George Bush, I think, has probably conquered. There is a strange thing in our electoral process where candidates, when they run for office, decide they have to be regular dudes. They have to be us. There's this sort of general "I'm just like you. I'm a regular Joe."

Really, you watch 10 hours of TV a day, because I would think you'd want to work. I don't understand why they don't say "I'm better than you," that's why I should be president. Because, if you're just like me, why am I voting for you? I should be president.

KING: Excellent point.

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

They all run to this -- it's this weird sense of "I'm going to put on that red and black jacket check jacket and I'm going to go down to a factory and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut with a dude and show him that I'm an idiot." You know, I don't understand. And I think that was -- there was an attempt on his part to dumb himself down in a way that was disingenuous, it seemed. But other than that, he did get five million more votes than Al Gore got. So, I think he just got beat at a certain level. George Bush just beat him. I mean, George Bush really played up the terrorism thing.

KING: Is what won it for him, as opposed to this morality issue?

STEWART: The values things. I mean, I don't know what that mean, you know, when people say that, 20 percent voted on values. What values. Honestly, I don't say that to be facetious. KING: Going to church on Sunday.

STEWART: Gay marriage. I mean, I don't understand how that's a value. What is the value of...

KING: There's a large segment of the population that believes...

STEWART: That's not a value. That's sort of not understanding...


STEWART: ...right. I mean, that -- honestly, that question -- I think Cheney is the most interesting case in all this. His daughter is gay, and I believe Kerry brought that up. And he has the most enlightened view of all the Republicans on the issue, it brings up an interesting point that all gay people are someone's son or daughter. So, why can't you have that empathy and compassion for all gay people. Why does it always have to be when it's someone -- you know, Nancy Regan is for stem cell research now, yes, because her husband was sick.

Why does it have to wait until it happens someone in your family before you can be open enough to...

KING: That's societal though, isn't it?


KING: Why didn't we talk about terror, we need 9/11. I mean, you have to have a 9/11 to create -- we're an after-the-fact society, aren't we?

STEWART: Well, that's a war. That's a different -- that's like, why didn't we attack the Japanese before Pearl Harbor? You know, I think, I'm talking about sort of a different thing which is, empathy, being able to understand that just because I don't know gay people or people who go to church doesn't mean that that's a freaky thing to do. I don't have to just have somebody in my family to do it before I begin to understand that there's humanity behind that. That's what it seems like is the...

KING: But a large part of the public is taught that gay is a sin.

STEWART: Oh, no, listen, I went to the anti-gay classes you're talking about.

KING: In Hebrew school?

STEWART: Yes, it was done right afterwards. You know, they're not taught that. It's just -- it's freaky. And I mean, where I grew up in New Jersey, I didn't know gay people. And then when you come to New York, you go, oh, you're just a person. But you are -- it's just the unknown. But I also didn't know evangelicals, and they just seem like normal people too. KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart. The book "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction," a no. 1 best seller. We'll start to include your phone calls don't go away.


STEWART: There's a major story out of the Middle East getting all kinds of attention, is the cover story of both "Time" and "Newsweek," this week, we're just confirming now Jesus Christ is born. Both magazines are currently reporting some type of savior, perhaps a close relation of God. Born in what is tentatively being described as a stable-like structure. Very interesting, "Newsweek" claiming the mother maybe less sexually experience than they suppose.




LETTERMAN: Earlier tonight down in Washington, they had the lighting of the National White House Christmas Tree. They threw the switch and the tree came to life. And it worked so well, they're going to try the same thing with Dick Cheney.


KING: We're back.

Do you enjoy Letterman?

STEWART: Can't stand (UNINTELLIGIBLE) anymore, but I enjoy the show.

KING: All right. We go to calls for Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, a Peabody Award winning program, as is this.


KING: There are 2 Peabodies here.

STEWART: Don't steal my thunder. Don't make me. No, it's fine. Just go.

KING: Does that bother you? West Palm Beach, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Jon and Larry, how are you guys. My question is, I know this past summer you and your wife had a baby. How has that changed your life?


KING: The baby.

STEWART: I should go. Really? You know, it's truly the most amazing experience, most wonderful experience and amazing experience that I think you'll ever have. Are we talking about the Emmy's?

KING: Were you at the birth of Nathan?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: Were you present at the birth of Nathan?

STEWART: I introduced him. I was the MC. Ladies and gentlemen! Let's get ready to come out of utero! Yes, I was there. It was freaky. I've never seen someone come out of someone. It is wild!

KING: It's crazed.

STEWART: It's not normal.

KING: It ain't normal.

STEWART: For a while, I was very nervous that there was other people were in there. You never know.

And now, you'd sleeping and all of a sudden Eleanor Roosevelt climbs out. Aah! I want brains!

But it's been an awful lot of fun. It's incredible. My wife's real good with him. She's the only one who can make him stop crying.

KING: What's a five month old like?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: What's is he like at 5 months.

STEWART: Pretty stupid.

KING: Doesn't speak.

STEWART: Doesn't walk, doesn't speak. You give him a spoon. He sticks it in his eye. I just sit there the whole time, I'm, like, I hope you're going to grow out of this. Because that's not going fly at the office.

KING: Are you worried about the world he's growing up?

STEWART: No, I'll be gone. Fend for yourself. Nobody worried about it for me.

I think every generation worries about their kids. I mean, you don't, it's something that you can't believe you love so much.

But I worry about it not even in the macro sense, I worry about it in the micro sense of there, you know, geez, I hope nobody's mean to him. I don't worry, in the sense of like, our ozone is depleted. What will he do? Genetic foods? That can't be. I worry about it like, geez I hope his ears aren't big. And I hope nobody makes fun of that.

KING: And the bully doesn't hit him.

STEWART: Yeah. You know, the usual stuff.

KING: Tarryton, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, in my seventh...

KING: Go ahead. Are you there?

Tarryton, are you there?

CALLER: I'm there.

KING: OK, go ahead.

CALLER: In my seventh grade class we learned about the elections. I only watch the the Daily Show and I only knew the most out of my whole class. Why do you think that is?

KING: Ah, an excellent question. Why did you think she know the most despite the fact her only source was your program, which is a fake show.

STEWART: Well, here's why, and I can tell her straight up, our show is on an eighth-grade level.

KING: Direct appeal to her.

STEWART: That's exactly right. Being in seventh grade, we've given her a little more than everyone else in the seventh grade.

KING: She is risen.

STEWART: That is exactly right. We are considered 8th grade to 9th grade. We are considered remedial reading in a show.

KING: Something that our CROSSFIRE doesn't understand.

STEWART: That's exactly right. People in fact, this is very interesting, the audience for our show, comes in a little yellow bus, the small bus. And many of them, quite frankly, are wearing helmets. It's nothing I'm proud of, necessarily, but it's what we do.

KING: Do you still do standup?


KING: You go out and standup?

STEWART: I go out and play theaters. And I enjoy it. I try and get out once a month, if I can.

KING: That's your natural work, bailiwick.

STEWART: That's where I started. And, by the way, bailiwick, Larry? KING: You don't like that word? What's the matter?

STEWART: Who is that for? The international audience? Bailiwick?

KING: It's your comfort...

STEWART: You just lost Cleveland! Don't you see?

It's not really my bailiwick. It's more of my...

KING: What-wick?

STEWART: ...purview.

It's just something that I enjoy doing. It's freeing. And it allows you to explore a whole different avenue.

The show is really produced, really structured. This is an ability to be more profane.

KING: What do you make of Rather and Brokaw exiting the scene?

STEWART: What happened? Well, it's mandatory, isn't it, you're not allowed to work past 105.

KING: Or go to 60 Minutes.

STEWART: That's exactly right.

You know, I imagine being tied down to that desk. And you probably know this as well, at a certain point it is very stifling. And I imagine they'd want to move on. There's an incredible amount of pressure every day.

KING: You're an anchor, what's it like?

STEWART: Larry, I really should send you tapes of the show, because I think you need to know that I'm not actually an anchor.

It's easier what we do than what they do. And I would recommend this to them. By being fake, we don't have to travel to places like Baghdad, we can get a picture of it, put it on a green screen and stand in front it. And I have to tell you, it saves a lot of wear and tear.

KING: And the budget.

STEWART: These are the kinds of things I think Rather could have kept going for another 30 or 40 years if he would only fake it.

KING: Where were you election night?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: Where were you election night? STEWART: My Y2k bunker eating up some of the last of the Saltines and the refried beans.

We were actually doing the show. We did it live.

KING: I know.

STEWART: And we wanted to declare...

KING: Your own studio?

STEWART: From our own studio, yeah. We're on Tenth Avenue. So, we did the show live that night hoping that there might be some victor to call, but again, it didn't work out.

KING: What did the fake show do election night?

STEWART: We watched you guys and then reported on what was being said, like, 3 minutes later and then made jokes about it.

KING: So you stole?

STEWART: Oh, yes. No, that's what we do. We steal from you guys. We watch, we tape, we have a TiVo and we tape all the stuff and we make fun of it. We're very bad people.

KING: So you don't have any source of getting the results yourself? You don't employ any exit crews.

STEWART: What are you kidding me?

KING: I'm serious. I'm a little hurt by that.

STEWART: I'm wearing the same sweater I always wear. What do you think goes on at our show? I buy my own sodas.

No, we don't have any kind of a budget or anything like that. That's our excuse. What's yours?

KING: You've got a good point.

STEWART: Thank you.

KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart and some more phone calls. And then Mo Rocca. Don't go away.


STEWART: Police presence was raised in the cities Bush visited, including Halifax, which upped it's security force from zero to some. The ambivalence of the welcome and hostility was not lost on the president.

BUSH: I, frankly, felt like the reception we received on the way in from the airport was very warm and hospitable. And I want to thank the Canadian people who came to wave, with all five fingers, for their hospitality.

STEWART: I have a lot of issues with President Bush. That was a pretty good joke.




STEWART: By the way when I'm playing Scategory and I roll an S and the category is former Afghan presidents, I always go with Sibghatullah Mojididi.


STEWART: Sibghatullah.


STEWART: I was at the inauguration, at Karzai's inauguration.

KING: That was -- why didn't you -- oh you don't go to those.

STEWART: I would have gone, I wasn't invited. I would have loved to have gone.

KING: You would have gone if they invited...

STEWART: Absolutely, I would have gone.

KING: And reported from there?

STEWART: Wait, where is Afghanistan?

KING: It's -- lets see you make a left out of Turkey.

STEWART: OK, no I wouldn't have. I thought it was near Connecticut.

KING: Me either.

STEWART: I like to drive places.

KING: Religion in America...

STEWART: Big and getting bigger. It's got to.

KING: What's it's place in politic?

STEWART: Oh, I think it's front and center. I think it's got to be -- I think the key for politics right now is for politicians to recognize that their God is the one true God, and that all others are heathens and/or pagans and should be scorned. Or people should have contempt for. And I think the work of the government should be in segregating those nonbelievers and subjugating them. KING: Subjugating them.

STEWART: And I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

KING: How does that make you feel as a member of a Jewish faith?

STEWART: Like I always feel, lame. Listen, who amongst us has around Hanukkah thought, oh, you're celebrating the birth of your savior and we're celebrating the fact that the oil lasted longer than we thought it would. What value. No, no, continue. Celebrate the birth of your savior. We have a lamp that's still lit. Aces! You know, I don't have a problem with religion.

KING: You are the chosen.

STEWART: Yes, we've been chosen for a little bit of abuse, quite frankly. I don't know what we were chosen for, but it sure as hell wasn't the Sunday bar. You know, again, I think this is -- religion has always been -- you know, this country was founded on puritanism, but it was also founded on the idea that religion wasn't going to be a part of it.

KING: We ran from it.

STEWART: Yes. And I think now there's a little bit of this idea that we've lost touch with our religious roots. I don't think that's every happened in this country. I think clearly religion provides a lot of people with comfort and solace, but you know, I think what people who aren't that religion object to, that it's the only way to find values is through religion. You know, President Bush, I'm very happy that finding Jesus helped him stop drinking. You know, I stopped because I got tired of tasting my own vomit. So, you know...

KING: Each have our own...

STEWART: Six in one have a dozen (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But do you know what I'm saying?

You know, I never understood why religion -- people have always talk about it's positive effects, but the negative effects seem to be -- I always thought religion was a lot like atomic energy. You know, you cut the atom this way, and you get electricity, you cut this way you get an atom bomb.

You know, there is -- there is a dark side to it. There should be some sort of -- like the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Association. There should be something like that for religion, to be like, you're getting a little crazy, you know what I mean, with the whole talk, "we are the only ones."

KING: A couple of other things. Who do you think -- off the top, this far ahead we like to do that though in this country, will be the candidates in '08?

STEWART: Are you asking me to speculate?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: No. Only actually news people are allowed to speculate. I'm not...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fake news people...

STEWART: Fake news people don't get into that game. It's a whole -- it's a crazy thing.

KING: What's the future of Giuliani?


Now you're really going down the...

KING: I'm taking you further.

STEWART: He, I think, president in 2008, emperor in 2012. I have no idea. I don't get involved in that.

KING: Hillary.

STEWART: She seems nice.

KING: That's it? She seems nice?

STEWART: Yes, I mean, what are you going to say. You know, it's starting already and I would just prefer not to be involved in the game. I actually think that would be a great thing for news organizations to do, is just not even talk about. All pundits should say this, what do you think is going to happen in 2008. And the answer should always be the same, "I have no idea."

KING: That's the truth.

STEWART: Because that's the truth. But I guess that's not -- I would really love to see -- you know, news organizations, it would be great to take in a different thing. Do you think news organizations have done a great job, recently or do you think that -- do you think we're being too hard on them by being so critical?

KING: I think, it's too much of a mixed bag. It's too general.

STEWART: To much noise.

KING: There's a lot of noise. Some do good. Some do better than god. Some do lousy.

STEWART: Do you think it's strange that so many people are still so misinformed about Iraq's ties to 9/11 or Saddam? You know, do you think...

KING: That always puzzles me. It still puzzles me that people don't name who the president is.

STEWART: Right. Is that true? KING: There are people who don't know.

STEWART: But not a majority, I wouldn't say. Because he actually got 51 percent of the vote. So you would think...


STEWART: ... or you think they just went what happened first hypothetically?

KING: How about those who didn't vote?

STEWART: Well, there's like a 100 million of them, you know, that didn't vote.

KING: Are you an optimist?

STEWART: Sorry? I'm a Jew. What kind of question is that, are you an optimist? I always have my bags packed. Is that optimistic. I never know when they're going to knock on my door and go (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

KING: Why do -- and that's inbred in us, isn't us.

STEWART: Well, it's -- I think, it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there are very few countries that doesn't have at least one museum going, "And this is when we chased you out." That's why we're all in comedy, we want to stay. If anybody stops looking at us, we're like, "Mommy, how love you! How we love you! Like us!"

KING: Give Nathan a kiss.

STEWART: I'll do it.

KING: Mo is coming.

What can you tell our audience about Mo Rocca, and briefly.

STEWART: Illiterate. Does the whole thing by ear. Had a meth habit, I don't know what he's doing now.

KING: Oh really.

STEWART: Not amphetamine, street speed.

KING: Thanks, Jon.

STEWART: Speaks five languages.

KING: Didn't know that.

STEWART: But none of them fluently. Only knows where the library is. That's all he can say.

KING: Jon Stewart, the book is "America(The Book)... STEWART: Hold it up, for god's sake, if you're going to plug.

KING: "America (The Book)...

STEWART: Get a nice shot of that.

KING: Come on, it's a big seller already.

STEWART: All right.

KING: Mo Rocca is next. Don't go away.


STEWART: With the holidays just around the corner, the big question at the Pentagon this year was, what do you get the country that has nothing?

Answer, more soldiers. The United States is increasing troops levels in Iraq to a 150,000, ordering more than 10,000 soldiers to extend their tours. Or in some cases for the second time, and as "60 Minutes" reported last night, even calling up reservists who haven't served since the '60s. So, we are calling people up for whom this war is literally another Vietnam.


STEWART: Grandma?



KING: He was one of our lead reporters during the conventions. He was atop the political scene. He's Mo Rocca, TV personality. He was our roving correspondent as we said, former correspondent for "The Daily Show."

ROCCA: That's right.

KING: And author of "All The Presidents' Pets, The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over." Roll over to what?

ROCCA: Roll over to the White House, the secrecy, the stonewalling, the press has always been an issue I've been interested in, as has the history of White House pets. I know all of the animals from Jefferson's grizzly bear to Benjamin Harrison's opposums, to John Tyler's homosexual canaries to Warren Hardings suicidal (UNINTELLIGIBLE), to Carter's killer rabbit. You remember the killer rabbit?

KING: The obvious question is why? Why do you care? There's so much more to this book than the pets. Why do you care about the pets?

ROCCA: I was trying to figure out what it is that the White House is trying to hide from the public. Quite honestly, in the run up to the Iraq war, we saw the price that we are now paying for White House secrecy and for a press that doesn't scrutinize the White House enough. I thought, what are they trying to hide? Well, it's clearly something that would undermine the image of infallibility that they try so hard to cultivate. What could be more humbling than the truth, which is that animals have been making a lot of the key decisions for presidents throughout our history. This makes the president appear a lot less super heroic.

KING: Let's take the current president. We have Barney, right?

ROCCA: Barney the Scottish terrier.

KING: He makes decisions?

ROCCA: Well, we hope that he makes more decisions. He's more of a moderate. He was a gift of Christine Todd Whitman (ph). He replaced Spot, the springer spaniel who, I believe, choked on a biscuit last year and died. Spot was the son of Millie who was the first president Bush's dog and always resented the suggestion that he was only first dog because he was son of a former first dog. Barney has now been joined by Ms. Beasley, who is Laura Bush's dog, more likely to be more moderate and help reinforce Barney's instinct in the White House. She's a swing canine voter, what is known as a security bitch.

KING: Did any president not have a pet?

ROCCA: Millard Filmore (ph). There are seven books written on the subject. I own five of them. You can get by with three. After a while they just repeat themselves. I reveal in this book that, in fact, he did and that's part of the plot that involves me and Helen Thomas because as you know this is a thriller starring me and Helen Thomas.

KING: And Wolf Blitzer.

ROCCA: And Wolf Blizter who, in my book, is actually Japanese. Wolf is my Pat Morita (Ph)-like karate kid sensai (ph) and if you freeze frame on Wolf as he is there and you stare at him long enough, he really does become Japanese.

KING: You know that's true, if you stare long enough.

ROCCA: He invites me to his beautiful Japanese garden home in Bethesda where I shalack (ph) his floors and prune his Bonzai trees in return for some canned advice. But he's really terrific.

KING: Does Wolf has a pet?

ROCCA: He does not have a pet although I imagine he would...

KING: Why has the mainstream media missed all this? Even Jon Stewart who you admire never got this story.

ROCCA: Because the mainstream media is, I think, afraid of the White House and played into the supersizing of the presidency. There are many great members of the Washington press corps, but, in effect, a lot of them become flacks for the White House and allow the president, who in this case, has given fewer press conferences than any in history to continue to perpetuate this image.

This book has amazing stories, like you remember, you know, Eisenhower and the desegregation of schools in 1957 when he sent troops down to Central High in Little Rock. Here's an example of something I unearth in my book. Eisenhower was a big golfer. He had a putting green on the south lawn of the White House. I found in my study of presidential pet scholarship that he had a squirrel problem on the putting green. I interpret pets loosely here. I found in doing more research, that one day two squirrels came on the putting green, one white and one black or African-American, at least that was the color of their fur. I didn't shave them, I don't know what color their skin was. They brought along a bunch of acorns with them. They assembled them into a sign of peace and Eisenhower looked at this peace sign and said, my god, desegregation of squirrels between black and white doesn't make sense. Let's send federal troops down to Central High in Little Rock and force them to desegregate schools. So this is the kind of thing I found.

KING: May I have the book? We're almost out of time. You want to hold it up more?

ROCCA: Sure.

KING: Mo Rocca reveals this and so many other fascinating things. We're so proud to have you as part of our team.

ROCCA: I wish I would have been able to talk about Van Buren and his tiger cubs, a gift from the Sultan of Amman.

KING: On the next trip.

ROCCA: Absolutely.

KING: Mo Rocca. And remember, you heard it here first. That's an amazing story of desegregation in Little Rock.

ROCCA: Remember, this is a great read and it makes a great chew toy when you're done with it.

KING: Thank you, Mo.

ROCCA: You can buy it. I thank you in the back.

KING: I bought one already.

ROCCA: I thank you in the back.

KING: I bought one. We'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, John and Elizabeth Edwards, the first time they're together publicly discussing the onset of her breast cancer and former president Jimmy Carter and Andy Rooney. Potpourri tomorrow night. And now it's that time of night. Twilight has come and gone. It's night time in America and that can mean only one thing. It's time for "NEWSNIGHT."


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