On December 18, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he’ll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush:
Jon Stewart: "Are you excited? Is it- Is it a whirlwind so far? Have you been on any bigger shows than this?"
Tom Vilsack: "No. This is it. This is the first show."
Stewart: "You're going to get crushed. [Cheers and applause ] Give me a sense of the Vilsack doctrine, if you would. What is– What do you feel like– You know, we've had a president who was the governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an a–[bleeped]." [Cheers and applause ]
Vilsack: "You know, Jon, this country in all sincerity, this country faces a serious issue, a number of serious issues not the least of which is Iraq. I think the President clearly is on the wrong track. He's the only person in America that thinks staying the course is the right way to go. Now he's got Senator McCain suggesting more troops. And I will tell you that I think that's absolutely making a big mistake even bigger. So, clearly, there has to be a conversation about a different strategy for Iraq, one that really does what that country needs done. We've created a culture of dependency with our presence there. And I think it's time to say to the Iraqis and the government: It's up to you. It's your country. You fight for it. You die for it."
Vilsack: "Can I use that as an endorsement?"
Now, keep in mind that this is the same show that former NBC "Nightly News" host Tom Brokaw said had "more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes...than most political news conferences in Washington."
At the conclusion of a discussion on Iraq, Stewart closed the interview by openly touting the Democratic candidate:
Vilsack: "They have to–They basically have to make the decision. And I think we should encourage the other countries in the region to participate in reconstruction and frankly we probably didn't do a very good job of building local governance because if the water isn't running, the lights aren’t on, the police aren’t on the street--"
Stewart: "This is what I'm talking about for you. A guy like you from Iowa, you do a great job of building the infrastructure of that state. It’s a small state. It understands the blue collar mentality, ground up kind of stuff. I would think that experience would come in very handy."
Vilsack: "That, together with the fact that--"
Stewart: "You see how I did that for you?"
Vilsack: "Yes, very nice, thank you."
Stewart: "Well, congratulations to you. Welcome to the race. I look forward to seeing you again."
Vilsack: "Shameless plug. TomVilsack08.com. Please."
Stewart: "Is that one of them internets?"
Vilsack: "That's one of those internets."
Would potential conservative GOP presidential candidates such as Governors Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee receive such glowing treatment? It doesn’t seem likely.