Jon Stewart is tireless. It’s been 20 years since he started railing humorously against incompetence, cronyism and hypocrisy and he still brings the outrage nightly. How does he do it? Cynicism usually wears people down the way the wind smooths mountains–they lose their sharp edges in the face of unrelenting malfeasance and graft, hysteria and disinformation. Stewart’s closest rival for the satirical throne is Stephen Colbert–and Colbert had to create a character to face the barrage night after night. Stewart goes it essentially as himself. And Colbert’s quitting his Colbert Report after less than half the time Stewart’s already put in.
Stewart took time off last year to direct his first feature film, but besides that he’s been clocking in regularly for two decades. He looked like an arrested adolescent when he began in 1994–four years before Google was founded–and now he’s getting the AARP catalog. (They find you–they just do–if you’re 50.) It’s election day today. Not too many people are paying attention–it’s a non-presidential off-year so not very many people will go to vote for the people who will spend the trillions of tax dollars Americans pay. Stewart knows this and yet he perseveres. There are jokes to be made, after all.