What does President Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate, Donald Trump getting pummeled at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and the death of Osama bin Laden all have in common? Nothing. Yet, Jon Stewart found a brilliant way to pull them all together last night in one of the funniest segments on The Daily Show ever.
Of course, reacting to the targeted attack on the Al Qaeda leader in the first place is tricky business: React with too much excitement and you're accused of being insensitive; react with too little and you risk being called unpatriotic. Somehow Stewart managed to walk the line between the two -- while being absolutely hilarious. Here's what went down.
First, Stewart -- who couldn't resist taking a few shots at Trump -- explained why he happened to be watching Celebrity Apprentice when Obama broke in with his big announcement Saturday night:
I'm watching [Celebrity Apprentice] to see if Obama's and Seth Meyers' absolute shellacking of Donald Trump had left a visible mark ... Even though the episode had been taped prior ... the demolition of Trump at the Correspondents' Dinner was so thorough I thought it might actually supersede the rules of dimensional time and space and leave a mark on future episodes of The Apprentice.
Of course Stewart's mocking of Trump was tame compared to what he had to say about Bin Laden. Suffice it to say, he couldn't have been more jovial:
Yes, we shouldn't have killed him. Now the terrorists are going to want to attack us. But you know what, even when they do, you know who won't see it? Bin Laden. Because we shot out his eyes, and now he lives in a pineapple under the sea.
He even acknowledged that he should be more ambivalent about the targeted killing of another human being. And yet:
I am way too close to this whole episode to be rational about this ... Last night was a good night -- not just for New York or D.C. -- but for human people.
So, why are we being so tolerant of Stewart's celebratory giddiness in the face of such a serious event -- a death, nonetheless? Well, for one thing, he's a comedian who skewers people for a living; we not only tolerate bits like this from him, we've actually come to expect it. And another: Stewart was happy without being delusional. In other words, he was honest that he sees Bin Laden's death as a good thing, but he didn't have any crazy illusions that we are safer now, that the wars on terrorism are over, that we are any closer to peace.
Finally, is it possible, that after such a momentous and historic day, we just needed some comic relief? It was tough to know the appropriate way to react after experiencing such a flood of emotions. Sometimes all we can do is sit back and let Jon Stewart just do his job.