|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
By Conor Dougherty
Texas Rep. Ron Paul was on the Daily Show last night, where he went through his standard spiel about personal liberty and why the Federal Reserve should be abolished. In noting that Mr. Paul’s radical ideas about the Fed have gained wider acceptance in the wake of the financial crisis Daily Show host Jon Stewart compared Paul to a “cool indie band” that is a cult favorite but suddenly goes mainstream. “It scares the daylights out of me,” was Paul’s response to this observation.
Paul has become something of a regular on late night shows like the Daily Show and its Comedy Central cousin, The Colbert Report. And while hosts don’t exactly agree with him, it’s hard for a comedian to resist a man whose views rattle both Democrats and Republicans.
Say what you want about Paul: The man is consistent, he does not pander, and those two qualities alone make him a lot more watchable than the stay-on-messagefests that are common on shows like Meet the Press. Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert once called Paul “an enigma wrapped in a riddle nestled in a sesame seed bun of mystery.”
For instance, last night on the Daily Show Paul blamed the Fed for everything from welfare moms to foreign wars in a single breath. Later, he blamed big government on the undue power of lobbyists and contractors like Halliburton.
Stewart, who asks perhaps the most probing questions of any late night talk show host, challenged Paul on the idea of the government always destroying personal liberty, noting that in the case of civil rights it was government that preserved it. (Paul didn’t exactly concede, and instead brought up Enron, adding: “It’s hard to enforce fraud laws when the government participates in fraud,” said Paul.)
Eventually Stewart was forced to slide down the inevitable slope that is a debate with a libertarian: How small can the government get? Do you abolish the military? Along this line, Stewart asked Paul for an example of a country that at least approximated his views of how things should Paul responded that the early days of America were about as close as it got.
“How you’ve survived in government for 11 terms, I don’t know,” Stewart said at the end of the interview.