There are some topics that are tremendously difficult to make funny. Case in point: Barack Obama’s relationship with Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers. On Tuesday night, Jon Stewart utterly failed to make the Ayers story funny. He tried to center himself a little by calling Ayers a "s—thead" (bleeped), but he mostly made fun of McCain and Palin and their "angry mob" of supporters. The screen graphic read "6 Degrees of Desperation."
Stewart played clips of Palin denouncing Ayers based on the Saturday New York Times. (When the Palin crowd booed the Times, he tried the joke "Are they booing reading?") Then he made fun of her manner of speaking about Ayers: "Is there anything this woman can’t make sound folksy? ‘Let’s not forget that doggone genocide in Rwanda.’ She’s the Church Lady."
For a few seconds, Stewart tried to explain soberly to his news-challenged audience: "The subject of Palin's concern is the Democratic candidate's relationship with this guy, William Ayers, a founding member of the 1960s radical organization of the Weather Underground the group responsible for numerous bombings 35 years ago."
Then came the lame jokes: "Ayers is now professor at the University of Chicago – threatening public safety school! [Wrong. It’s the University of Illinois at Chicago.] And a recipient of the 1997 Chicago Citizen of the Year Award. Of course that was the year he was up against the guy who chased Michael Jordan out of town and Al Capone's ghost. All right. So his terror record is about four decades old, but based on this seven-year-old photo of him standing on an American flag, he's clearly still a s—head. Senator Obama served on the same board as a charity for Ayers, who also hosted a meet-and-greet for Obama at the beginning of his political career. You know who might be very interested to hear about Barack Obama's political ties to a former inciter of violence? An angry mob."
Stewart then showed clips of Republican crowds booing when McCain and Palin explained the Ayers-Obama relationship, and black-and-white old movie footage of a mob with torches, and joked "Oh, angry mob, is there any problem your wisdom and torches can't solve?"
Stewart then asked why McCain is bringing this up late in the campaign. What followed was a segment on how still-undecided voters are "stupid," and hence will fall for this phony Ayers issue. This was slightly funnier, unless you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, who were lumped in with "tiger petters" and other categories of the terminally stupid.