Ahh, The Daily Show.

The show was in rare form tonight, leading off with some razzing of Bill O’Reilly for saying that The Daily Show’s audience is “stoned slackers”, when in fact the Daily Show audience is both more educated and more knowledgeable about current events than the Factor’s audience.

Then a bit of bipartisan ribbing of Bush and Kerry (who’s answer on whether Iraq was a mistake needs to improve dramatically in the next 18 hours).

And then on to this fantastic pre-debate segment between Jon Stewart and political correspondent Ed Helms:

We join the skit midway through. Correspondent Ed Helms has just finished giving an obviously fantastic preview of the upcoming debate (“…the Senator will wear cape and punctuate every sentence with the word ‘biotch’; … [Bush] will more than likely squeeze the juice out of an orange with his bicep.”)

STEWART: …Can we talk a little bit about what’s really going to happen at the debates tomorrow?

HELMS: [Sarcasm] Ookaay. This is the report I’m going to file. [grabs notebook and starts reading, in a quick monotone]. The two candidates exchanged pointed barbs about our Iraq policy and the war on Terror. Senator Kerry made strides towards shedding what some of his analysts call a patrician image…yadda yadda yadda…but the president with his plainspoken words was more effective in communicating his vision by relentless …

STEWART: [interjecting] Ed. Ed, I’m sorry. You’ve written your report as though it’s already happened. This is, is…

HELMS: Yeah, I wrote it yesterday.

STEWART: You write you stories in advance? And then put it in the past tense?

HELMS: Yeah. We all do. All the reporters do that.


HELMS: We write the narratives in advance based on conventional wisdom, and then whatever happens, we make it fit that storyline.


HELMS: We…We’re lazy. Lazy thinkers.

STEWART: But what happens if actual news happens?

HELMS: That’s what bloggers are for.

And, if that weren’t enough, Stewart closed with Sy Hersh, who didn’t mince words (“Oh, Man. If he’s reelected we’re really in trouble.”)

Speaking of Hersh, his Chain of Command : The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib is out now. And speaking of books, Jon Stewart and his writers have a book out now, too: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book) : A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction. I don’t know much about Stewart’s book, but I’m guessing it’s funny. I’m also guessing that Hersh’s book is not.

One last Daily Show item. They’ll be running live post-debate coverage, and it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be better than the cable networks’ coverage, which as we just learned, has already been written.