The Providence Journal: February 27, 2006
For many diffident Americans George W. Bush is still not their president.
Remember January's televised State of the Union speech? "Turn it off!" "Why bother" "He's an idiot" "And so are you".
Yes, most voting Democrats remain in the country, but it's an ongoing out-of-body political experience for those not represented by him.
In this time of great social denial, the other-half-of-America cannot even look in the direction of the Bush Administration. In fact, they can't watch traditional news coverage anymore, because they don't take anyone seriously that takes the president seriously.
Instead, the other-half-of-America is watching news satire programs like Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, followed by The Colbert Report, with fake interviews, and other programs like Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO. The formula goes something like this, "Ha, ha, ha. He's not really our president."
Mr Stewart speaks to the hearts and minds of the other-half-of-America. He is the newsman of choice for the Democrats. He is the darling of American pop culture, with one deft foot in politics, which is why he was chosen to be the host of the 2006 Academy Awards, to be held tomorrow night.
"Ha, ha, ha. He's not really our president" will be the theme of the night, along with Brokeback Mountain. At their intersection is the Dick Cheney hunting accident, otherwise known as the Goldmine of Comedy.
Mr. Stewart's monologue and remarks throughout the awards ceremony will no doubt be highly political, funny, and ultimately represent the Hollywood filmmakers "reel" opinion regarding the state of the union, and George Bush in particular. With all due respect to Edward R. Murrow in George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, Mr. Stewart is today's truth-teller, at least for his many followers.
Politicians and newsmen spin Steven Colbert's "truthiness", but comedians and Democrats have the laughter to make their medicine go down. They hope it will cure what is sick in America.
Mr. Stewart will have a larger and arguably more rapt audience than did President Bush for his State of the Union and for continued good reason.
The other week Stewart deftly showed clips from the Fox News Channel of the anchors and reporters throughout the day dismissing the need as "obsessive" and "unnecessary" for continued coverage of Dick Cheney's hunting accident, given all the other important news going on. This came after Cheney's exclusive interview on Fox.
But then Stewart showed Fox's coverage of the "other important news", which turned out to be hours of helicopter-TV coverage of Neil Entwistle's arrival by car for arraignment in Framingham, Mass., for the murder of his wife and young child.
Things may have to get pretty funny in America before they get any better.