All the (Moments of) Zen You Can Get

Erica Patino Jul 20, 2005

Want to combine the heartbreak of the last presidential election with the convenience of at-home theater? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004 features all this plus sharp satire that is as much a criticism of major network news and newspaper coverage as it is a genial look at American politics.  The three-DVD set includes on-site coverage of both political conventions, presidential debates and live coverage on election night.

While the material on the first two discs is strong, the real treat is disc three. It includes previously unaired bits such as Stewart’s team of fake reporters doing a disarmingly good a capella rendition of the national anthem.  Longtime correspondent Stephen Colbert (set to have his own show, The Colbert Report, later this year on Comedy Central) introduces the Republican National Convention with a tour of the show’s studio and offices, down to the staff copy machine, “Old Xeroxy.” Reporter Ed Helms describes the American political process as “a total sausage-fest.”

The show is at its best when bulldozing through already sensitive political subjects. The relative anonymity of The Daily Show reporters allows them to look credible and then ambush naïve guests much in the style of Ali G, provoking confused and incredulous responses.  Samantha Bee sits a group of undecided voters down and hurls obscenities at them for their indecisiveness. Too stunned to respond, they shuffle out of the room when she cheerfully dismisses them. At the Republican National Convention, Helms says to an attendee, “A lot of people are upset about the situation in Iraq, it seems to have developed into this kind of quagmire…” The attendee cuts Helms off and walks away. The refusal to comment speaks more than any response could, and more than any network coverage dares. One of the best segments is on the lavish full-service salon at the RNC, reserved exclusively for the media, proving that once again truth is stranger than fiction.

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