"During the Iraq war when the Saddam Hussein statue fell in Baghdad, I don't recall Republicans at the time going, 'Big mistake! You don't want to erase your history!' Stewart says.
Jon Stewart returned to the show that made him a household name and proved he's every bit as sharp and in sync with the current political climate than ever before, even if it seems like 2020 has as much going on in it as Stewart's entire "Daily Show" tenure from 1999-2015.
But as much as he's up to date on what's going on politically, one of the most hilarious moments of his segment with Trevor Noah showed that he's not quite as sharp when it comes to the technologies driving the new normal in the COVID-19 era.
In particular, Stewart couldn't believe that he's been doing press for his upcoming film "Irresistible" for a week now and Noah is the first person with "the decency, the kindness" to tell him to look directly into the camera and not at his computer screen.
It's a simple note of video conferencing etiquette that can be incredibly jarring, as you only see the person you're talking to peripherally, but certainly makes for a more natural looking television experience.
After that minor note at the top of the show, though, Stewart quickly gave us a glimpse into one of those parallel realities he talked about: a world where he's still hosting "The Daily Show" and offering his unique insights into the world around us.
His chat about parallel realities came when Noah brought up the strange politicization of the coronavirus in America. It's a pandemic, not a talking point, so it's hard for Noah to fathom how a medical and scientific response to an unchecked disease with no vaccine is somehow a political statement.
"In this country we've set up parallel universes," Stewart said. "In the multiverse where the Right lives, this is an infringement."
In particular, he said that the politicization of masks is what blows him away the most. "Surgeons wear them in operating rooms," he noted. "They don't wear them because they drive Volvos and sip chai tea and listen to NPR."
He went on to suggest, "Next time you’re having an operation and the surgeon comes in with washed hands and a mask, be like, don't be a pussy, don’t be some liberal puss. You take off that mask and you unwash your hands and you stick your paws in my open gaping wound. Because apparently sanitary conditions are a liberal myth."
Earlier in the conversation, they touched on the other big political movement happening in the country, the Black Lives Matter protest. Again, Stewart honed in on one aspect of it: the removal of Confederate statues and the notion from the Right that this is erasing history.
"I don't remember the conservatives during the Iraq war when the Saddam Hussein statue fell in Baghdad, I don’t recall Republicans at the time going, 'Big mistake! You don't want to erase your history!'" he said.
He also noted that it's not even like these are historic statues from the Confederate era. In fact, according to Stewart, their very presence is representative of something far more sinister.
"The statues are not from the confederate era, they’re from the Jim Crow era," he pointed out. "They're from an era when they built them to say, 'Just so you know, I know they let you go, but I just want to make sure everybody understands, we will still subjugate you and bring fear into your life.'"
As Stewart put it, "This should have been done in short order by a normal functioning society years ago."
But as Noah noted, the words "normal," "functioning," and "society" all sound nice, but all three seem to be in short supply in this, the longest year on human record.