updated 10/4/2004 12:01:11 PM ET 2004-10-04T16:01:11

Guests: J.R. Havlan, Eric Drysdale, Chris Regan, David Javerbaum, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  Now, here‘s a take on the debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s recap the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry held his own against the man even he‘s going to vote for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Orgasmic triumph!


NORVILLE:  It‘s the show with the pulse on the nation‘s political landscape...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I, for one, could have used a bathroom break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I got nothing.


NORVILLE:  ... while keeping a tongue planted firmly in cheek.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If that doesn‘t work, out come the cattle prods.


NORVILLE:  But putting a satirical spin on the news is serious work.



It‘s incredibly hard.

JOHN STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  I can‘t believe he just said it!


NORVILLE:  They‘re clever, irreverent, and at times, hysterical.




What goes on up here?

BUSH:  We‘re facing a—a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart.

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  A group of folks is what you run into at the Olive Garden!


NORVILLE:  Tonight, a full hour of the off-beat brain trust behind Comedy Central‘s “Daily Show.”


STEWART:  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!  It‘s going to be a long night!


ANNOUNCER:  From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  And good evening, everybody.  They‘re smart.  They‘re subversive.  They have taken American political satire to a new level.  Every night on Comedy Central “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart and his band of writers and correspondents present what they call “the fake news.”  From the presidential campaign coverage they‘ve dubbed “Indecision 2004” to their Iraq war reporting “Mess O‘ Potamia,” they‘ve left those of us in the real news not quite sure if they‘re laughing with us or at us.

“The Daily Show” won a Peabody Award for its coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, which is a major journalism award for a fake news show, and it was just awarded two more Emmys this year.  Now “The Daily Show” is expanding its empire with “America: The Book: A Citizen‘s Guide to Democracy in Action,” which totally confused any of you who took 8th grade American history, but in a really funny way.  The book debuts at No. 1 on “The New York Times” best-seller list.  And it‘s a pleasure to welcome to the program tonight “Daily Show” correspondents Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, head writer David Javerbaum and writers Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan.

And I should first off congratulate you all because last night, ‘The Daily Show” hit its ratings zenith, the highest ratings you‘ve ever had.  So congratulations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you very much.


NORVILLE:  I want to go around the horn and ask all of you—and I‘ll start with you first, J.R.—what struck you as the funniest moment during the debates last night?  Because that‘s how you watch, looking for something that you guys can get a good line off.  What struck your tickle bone?



HAVLAN:  That kind of did, right there!

NORVILLE:  Right over there, baby!


HAVLAN:  The—I thought it was very funny, the Poland thing, and

when he went back to the Poland thing, and that—like, his—his list of

·         by which I mean—excuse me...

NORVILLE:  Our great allies out there in Iraq?

HAVLAN:  Right.  And the list was, you know—you know, Britain and -

·         did he even go...


HAVLAN:  ...anywhere after that?


HAVLAN:  No, Britain and Spain and Poland, and he just ran out of steam after that, you know what I mean?  It took him a while to even think of Poland.  And then he brought Poland back up, like, you know, They—you -- don‘t forget what I said, you know?

NORVILLE:  But they‘re still there.  The Poles are still there.

HAVLAN:  Well, yes, and you got to respect that.

NORVILLE:  Eric, what hit you?

ERIC DRYSDALE, WRITER, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  There were a number of times where Bush interrupted Kerry and then paused for an enormously long time, as if he had something to say and immediately forgot it.

NORVILLE:  When the light came to him?


CHRIS REGAN, WRITER, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Actually, J.R. took mine.


REGAN:  I was going to say that Poland was kind of the highlight for me, but...

NORVILLE:  So after Poland, that was it, huh?

REGAN:  No, Poland and the variety of dazzling facial expressions from the president.

NORVILLE:  Which we will get into in just a second.  David, what hit you?


NORVILLE:  Wait, Stephen.  We‘re doing everybody here, and then we‘re coming to you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, slow down!

NORVILLE:  David, you next.

COLBERT:  That‘s fine.  Whatever.


COLBERT:  Time for them to shine!  I guess I get my applause every night, Deborah.  Don‘t mind me!


NORVILLE:  Would you like to deed (ph) your time to the people in the other room because...


NORVILLE:  ...they‘re getting a little testy.

JAVERBAUM:  No, I—I‘ll just briefly say that the time when the president had to spend 30 seconds praising Senator Kerry on the most general terms possible—i.e., his wife is OK, he‘s a generally nice guy who won‘t kill puppies—that was excruciatingly awkward and fun to watch.

NORVILLE:  And fun to watch.

JAVERBAUM:  I enjoyed that.  Yes.

NORVILLE:  Samantha?  You?

SAMANTHA BEE, CORRESPONDENT, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  I particularly enjoyed their awkward handshake at the beginning.  I found that very titillating, the sort of, like, really hard grip and then the pull-away, when they were in this awkward position on the stage.

NORVILLE:  And then at the end, it was—they came together, they did the handshake, and then it was, Let‘s get really far apart really fast!

BEE:  Time out.


NORVILLE:  And Stephen, how about you?  The last...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll take this one.

NORVILLE:  The last shall be first.


COLBERT:  Oh, I get to talk now?



COLBERT:  I don‘t want to step on anybody‘s toes here.

NORVILLE:  The floor is yours.

COLBERT:  I liked Jim Lehrer‘s eyes.  They look like little chips of glass.


COLBERT:  They looked like a shark, just absolutely nothing.  Like, it‘s going come bump up against you, and the next time, it just takes a bite.

NORVILLE:  He was just so worried that he wouldn‘t be following the rules that were set up.  He wanted to make sure he got everything right.

Samantha, before the debate, you prepared kind of an expose, an in-depth look at a critical voting segment this time around, the undecided voter...

BEE:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  ... as part of “Indecision 2004.”  And you went out in the field and did a truly in-depth interview with these people.  We‘ll take a look.


BEE:  If everybody could just take their seats, that would be great. 

We can get started.  Do you consider yourselves—OK, everybody settled?  OK.  We‘ve had several months to look at these two candidates.  They‘re two very different men.  The contrasts are clear.  So my question to you is, What the (DELETED) are you waiting for?  Why can you not decide?  (DELETED)  Get off the pot!  Who‘s it going to be?


NORVILLE:  When you put this together, Samantha, what were you all and the team really trying to say to viewers and undecided voters out there?

BEE:  I think it‘s pretty clear what we were trying to say to the undecided voters.  And really, believe me that no one was more surprised than them that I started shouting at them sometime during the interview.  It was...

NORVILLE:  Those...

BEE:  It was very interesting.

NORVILLE:  Those were real undecided people that you found out on the street?

BEE:  Absolutely.  They were totally undecided.  We couldn‘t believe it.  And it was very really fun and very cathartic for me to do a little bit of yelling.

NORVILLE:  And when it was all over, what did they say to you?  Because you really just—you blessed (ph) them out with words that we‘re not allowed to show on television, and neither were you.

BEE:  I‘m going to say it was awkward.  I think the moment was awkward.

COLBERT:  Deborah, Sam‘s from Canada.

BEE:  Yes.

COLBERT:  And they‘re different up there.  They‘re very potty-mouthed. 

I‘m not sure if you‘re familiar with our northern neighbors.

BEE:  We work it pretty blue.

COLBERT:  It‘s the French influence.

NORVILLE:  It‘s the French influence!  Well, it was a hilarious bit.

Another thin that I was surprised that none of you all mentioned in your favorite moments was right at the beginning when John Kerry got the first question from Jim Lehrer and the debate began.  Take a look.


JIM LEHRER, PBS, MODERATOR:  Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Yes, I do.  But before I answer further, let me thank you for moderating.  I want to thank the University of Miami for hosting us...

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!  It‘s going to be a long night!


NORVILLE:  And that‘s what made it work last night because everybody in America, when Senator Kerry went off the question, is going, Oh, no!  He‘s doing exactly what everybody says he shouldn‘t do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, the people who support Kerry were saying, Oh, no.  People who support Bush were saying, Oh, yes.  He‘s doing what...

NORVILLE:  Here we go.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The thing is, is that the—he did get through a couple of his thanks-yous, and then the orchestra played him off, so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought answering the question about whether he would do a better job than President Bush in the war on terror—I thought, Yes, I do, was—that was good.  I was with him for that.  I thought that was the right way to go, rather than no.

NORVILLE:  Rather than—yes.  Well, there was a very obvious...


NORVILLE:  You know, if you want to win the voters, this would be the appropriate response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  That was a good choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean, it‘s only natural to go from terrorism to a shoutout...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mainly.  You know, it puts everyone at ease.

NORVILLE:  Another moment that one of you mentioned just a second ago was the facial expressions.  You know, we talk about the 32-page memorandum of understanding, and one of the things that was in there was no cutaways.  Well, Well, the networks all said, you know, Fat chance that we‘re going to follow this.  But fat chance that the candidates didn‘t know that the networks wouldn‘t follow this.  Here‘s President Bush.


KERRY:  I wasn‘t misleading when I...

·         planning for what happens afterwards...


NORVILLE:  These are all moments of his expressions...


KERRY:  He misled the American people in his speech.


NORVILLE:  And it reminds you of Al Gore back in 2000, sighing away, as the president just seems to wear his feelings not on his sleeve but right on his face.  You guys didn‘t use that for any material, unless I missed it last night.

JAVERBAUM:  The reason is very simple.  We had to turn around the show very quickly.  And ordinarily, we have time to—we do the—we‘ll do the show the next day, and we will, you know, put together montages of moments like that or other things.  But we just simply did not have the turnaround time at our basic cable limited production facility to do that kind of montage in under two hours.

HAVLAN:  Yes.  And I think, like, in fairness, just before you showed that clip, I was kind of, like, staring off for some reason, and I saw in one of monitors me staring off for some reason.  I looked, like, disinterested or something, but I wasn‘t.  So the fact that they catch them doing that in that time is probably not very surprising.  I mean, it‘s not like he was picking his nose or something.  That would have been quite a little moment, you know?  Then you hang on him to see if he eats it.  That‘d be funny, too.


NORVILLE:  Oh, please!


HAVLAN:  You got to wait and see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re having fun.

HAVLAN:  You got to wait and see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  J.R., you just took it to a place that it didn‘t need to go.

NORVILLE:  Another moment that you all, with Jon carrying it off, had fun with was about—the notion about whether there could be another 9/11 after the election.  Here‘s the debate and the react.


LEHRER:  Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?

BUSH:  Oh, I don‘t believe it‘s going to happen.

STEWART:  Oh, my God!  We‘re not going to have an election!  I can‘t believe he just came out and said that!


NORVILLE:  See, I saw Jon do that last night and I thought, But wait a minute.  That‘s not what the president said.  The question was, If John Kerry were elected, not, If there‘s an election and John Kerry wins, if John Kerry is elected president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, that was—that was the joke.  Yes.  I mean, we knew what President Bush was trying to say, but you know...

COLBERT:  Deborah...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... we misinterpreted it deliberately.

COLBERT:  Deborah, can I...

NORVILLE:  Yes, Stephen?

COLBERT:  Are you implying that “The Daily Show” occasionally plays fast and loose with footage for comedic ends?

NORVILLE:  Absolutely right!  And you do it to great effect.

We‘re going to take a quick break.  When we come back, more on “The Daily Show‘s” take on the debate.  And here‘s one.  We were wondering just what Senator Kerry and President Bush were whispering to each other just before the debate began and they had the handshake.  We‘re going to give the folks from “The Daily Show” a couple of moments to think about it, and we‘ll get their take on it after this.


NORVILLE:  So just what did President Bush and Senator Kerry say to one another just before the debate started last night?  I‘m back with my guests from Comedy Central‘s “The Daily Show,” correspondents Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, head writer David Javerbaum, writers Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan.

They‘ve had a few minutes to think about it.  I‘m sure you‘ve been breaking a sweat.


NORVILLE:  Stephen, you have any idea what the two were whispering to each other, since I know you were on the scene in Florida, covering the debate?

COLBERT:  Yes, I was.  I had a directional mike on them.  And what Kerry said was—Kerry said, Bring it on.  And President Bush said, Oh, I brought it.  Did you bring it?  And Kerry said, I have a bag in which I have brought it.


COLBERT:  And then they just debated.

NORVILLE:  And that was it.  Started with that.  Do you really think, anybody here, that that‘s what it was?  Got any ideas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Kerry just leaned in and said, Gee, your hair smells terrific.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he said, I bet “The Daily Show‘s” ratings are going to soar tonight.

NORVILLE:  Yes, I‘m sure!  They were really worried about that with you!

When you started the show last night, Stephen, you and Jon always seem to have a good time kind of going back and forth with each other.  I want to play a clip of the beginning, of you setting the stage for the debate coverage, which we know you were really in Florida doing.  Take a look.


STEWART:  I mean, I watched this.  It seemed less like a debate, and with very few exceptions, more like parallel campaign speeches.  In fact, they weren‘t really even allowed to talk to each other directly.

COLBERT:  Well, John, the next debate format is even more restrictive.  Not only will they not be allowed to speak to each other, they will be in different rooms in different states, in different languages.  That one should be decisive.  Or the third one.


NORVILLE:  How much of what you all do, Stephen, is ad lib and how much is pre-planned?

COLBERT:  I improvise everything I say on the show.  I mean, the writers are good and everything, but I just don‘t need them.


NORVILLE:  Strictly brilliant.  And what lines didn‘t make the show last night, guys, that you batted around?  There was a lot of material, you know, moments when Kerry started getting a little pontifical, and you could have gone there, and maybe you chose not to.  As you said, it was a lot of show last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We had a lot of Quayle jokes that didn‘t make it.

NORVILLE:  You had a lot of Quayle jokes that didn‘t make it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It just didn‘t make sense.

NORVILLE:  Duh!  No kidding!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We just have them laying around, you know? 

They‘re just there.


JAVERBAUM:  It was all we could do to have enough jokes, you know, to turn them around in a couple of hours.  I mean, the—but the stuff like Stephen‘s piece and the piece that Rob and Ed did are things that, you know, we were writing them in advance, and we were able to, you know, hopefully, cut and trim them and make them funny—funnier beforehand.  But it was a frantic effort, operation to get the whole thing on the air in time, which, luckily, we did.

NORVILLE:  Chris, when you guys are watching the debate go down, do you have your notepad in your hand, and one of the candidates says something, you go, Oh, great line, and you just spontaneously react?  I mean, how do you guys come up with the material, especially on the fly, the way it was last night?

REGAN:  Well, we all listen to each other.  You know, there‘s a group of 10 of us in the room.  And there was a lot of shouting last night.  And out of some of that shouting, there‘s a couple of good lines.  And Brendon (ph), Who‘s our crack assistant back at the studio, was there the keyboard...

NORVILLE:  So he‘s just typing everything he hears you guys screaming out.

REGAN:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And we work up those notes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And sometimes there‘ll actually be a joke there, and the—the Olive Garden line we heard—I mean, that‘s something that just really—with somebody—Ben Krollen (ph), our executive producer, yelled it out, got written down, put it in the show.  And sometimes we‘ll say, Oh, that‘s a good sound bite, we‘ll think of the joke later.

NORVILLE:  Right.  And the result is something like this, when Senator Kerry was asked about the world being a safer place.


KERRY:  Ninety-five percent of the containers that come into the ports right here in Florida are not inspected.  Civilians get onto aircraft and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not X-rayed.  Does that make you feel safer in America?

STEWART:  Not anymore.  Thanks a lot, Scaredy McFearalot (ph)!


NORVILLE:  Samantha, what was your reaction when you heard that line? 

I mean, was that the automatic, Oh, now I‘m worried, you know, when you‘re listening to the debate and Jon reacted as he did on the show?

BEE:  Well, I actually took the train last week, and it‘s the first time I‘ve ever taken the train in America before, in America, and I couldn‘t believe—I couldn‘t believe...


NORVILLE:  Welcome to this country, by the way.

BEE:  Oh, thank you so much!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And different gauges.

BEE:  Thank you.  I couldn‘t believe that nobody even checked my ID or anything.  It really—it was a bit discombobulating for me.  So that joke really hit home for me last night.

COLBERT:  The reality of that joke, Deborah, is why we really do all of our stand-ups in front of a green screen and not at real locations.  We just don‘t travel anymore.

NORVILLE:  You‘re just too scared to go anywhere.  And the fact is, people are now watching this show for news and information.  Does that scare any of you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Almost all of us, I would say.

NORVILLE:  Are terrified at this prospect.  What does that say about America?

JAVERBAUM:  I mean, to be totally honest, I think a question that—more—is what does that say about the rest of news that‘s on TV, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  D.J.!  Sorry!  Sorry!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re on her show!


NORVILLE:  We‘re going to have to take it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obviously, excepting this show.  Duh!.

NORVILLE:  This particular hour on this particular network.

JAVERBAUM:  Yes, but I mean, you know, if you watch us for a comedy show, that‘s good.  It means that we‘re doing our job and we‘re being funny and everything.  But people are watching us, as we are repeatedly told these days, because we‘re a news source.  I don‘t think that‘s a reflection on our journalistic credibility because we have none.  I think that‘s a reflection...

NORVILLE:  And you don‘t pretend that you do.  I mean...


NORVILLE:  People who are saying you‘re their source for news and information, they‘ve decided this.  It‘s not like you all waved a banner and said, Trust us.  We know the real story.

COLBERT:  Right.  And there are some things about those polls that are a little suspect because we don‘t educate the audience all that much.  They have to have some idea of what the story is and who the newsmakers are to get our jokes.  So I‘m just not sure how accurate that is.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  I want to show the numbers in a couple of minutes, but first I want to show another clip from last night, when President Bush was talking and Jon was reacting.  And I wonder if anyone else in America had the same reaction.


BUSH:  We‘ll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matter in their own hands and protect themselves.

STEWART:  I—I think that‘s what they‘ve been doing.  I think that‘s actually kind of been the problem.


NORVILLE:  Who came up with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m going to say me.


NORVILLE:  Because nobody else jumped in!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nobody—I was first.  It‘s mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Somebody, either one of the writers here or one of the other writers, came up with that as we were watching it.  And I think Jon was sitting in, watching the debates with us, and I think Jon said, That‘s a good one.  You know, Put it down.  And so it was in the script.  And you know, that was just a visceral, gut reaction, and sometimes those are the ones that we go with and those are the ones that get the biggest response.

NORVILLE:  And don‘t you think that that‘s why the audience is connecting with you?  Because a lot of your visceral reactions to the news stories of the day, or the way it‘s covered or the way it‘s debated, in the case of last night, is the same reaction that the guy who‘s sitting there with the beer in one hand and the remote in the other hand, as he‘s clicking around, is going—that‘s his reaction.  I mean, you‘ve sort of tapped in, haven‘t you, to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s our guy.


NORVILLE:  That‘s your guy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s the guy we‘re thinking of when we‘re in there tossing ideas around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stoned slackers, as Bill O‘Reilly said.  Our audience is entirely stoned slackers, so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, and he doesn‘t—he doesn‘t have a remote.  It‘s an old one with the dial and it‘s broken off (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rabbit ears and it‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) instead of a remote.

NORVILLE:  You make the joke that Bill O‘Reilly called your audience “stoned slackers,” but the reality is Comedy Central did a survey and found out who you audience was, and folks might be surprised.

When we come back, we‘ll talk about who‘s watching the show.  Lots of people, is the answer.  And we‘ve got more from my guests from “The Daily Show” when we come back.  So stick around.  The phenomenon (UNINTELLIGIBLE) why is it so hot?  We‘ll try to figure it out in a moment.


STEWART:  But I was on a program recently, the Bill O‘Reilly show, “The Factor.”  And on it, he mentioned to me that our audience, the audience of “The Daily Show,” was comprised primarily—I believe the figure he quoted was 87 percent—of stoned slackers.  And obviously, many of them here.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And the Emmy goes to—“The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart!


NORVILLE:  That‘s “The Daily Show” winning the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series Award at this year‘s Emmys.  The show also won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing, the same two awards that they took home last year from the Emmys.

So what is behind the phenomenon of “The Daily Show”?  Back with “Daily Show” correspondents Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee.  Also with us in the studio, head writer David Javerbaum and writers Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan.

How cool is it to get that kind of recognition?  I mean, because you‘re up against some pretty stiff competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, it‘s the work.  It‘s not the awards.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s the awards.

COLBERT:  I think that one of the best things about it is to hear that Emmy orchestra with those fat horns play your theme song...


NORVILLE:  That‘s when you know that you have really made it.!  And you‘ve really hit it, too, in terms of just the numbers of viewers.  You hit a record last night.  You had, like, a million-and-a-half when John Kerry was on there.  What do you attribute it to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think people want to laugh, you know, especially, I think, in times where things are getting so contentious and so kind of polarized.  People want a release, and we give them that.  So it‘s a nice way to sort of get a little news—hopefully, not all of it—and get a little laugh, too.

NORVILLE:  And yet you are also getting the big gets, too.  I mean, we just saw that you had a million-and-a-half when John Kerry was on.  You had 1.9 million when Bill Clinton, former president, was on.  And you set a record last night, probably a little over two million.  I‘m not sure exactly what the number was, but it was the best ever.  Why do the big names come on to the show? 

HAVLAN:  Because of Jon.  Because of Jon, mostly, because they want to reach, you know, out to a hip, young audience that we supposedly get, I guess, but also because when they come on, regardless of what their affiliation is, they are treated fairly by Jon, they are entertained by Jon and they have an opportunity to entertain themselves.  And it‘s him. 

NORVILLE:  But, David, do people come on the show and try to be funny? 

DRYSDALE:  It depends.  It depends on the approach and what their strategy is. 

But, in general, we respond well as staffers and observers of the interviews to the people who come on and act like human beings and are there in the moment and not with an agenda.  Two people I can tell come on the show and are great guests are Senator Jon McCain and senator Joe Biden.  Those are two guys who come on and they are not there to spout party rhetoric.  They come on and they talk with Jon.  And they are there and they joke and they kid and they‘re human beings.  And that I think is something we all respond to.

NORVILLE:  And when Senator Kerry was on not too long ago, when you start getting a little too pontifical, somebody can stop you on that.  Let‘s take a look at John Kerry.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  George Bush doesn‘t want to talk about the real issues.  What is he going to do, come and say we lost 1.8 million jobs, four million Americans lost their health care, we‘re going backwards on the environment, we‘ve angered anybody in the world?


JON STEWART, HOST:  Sir, I‘m sorry.  Were you or were you not in Cambodia on Christmas Eve? 


STEWART:  They said you said five miles.  They said three. 



NORVILLE:  It gives them a chance to be human. 

JAVERBAUM:  Yes.  And then the question is, do they go on the show to

·         to act human or to be human?  That‘s the



JAVERBAUM:  That‘s the fundamental question.

NORVILLE:  That‘s where you have got to have the meter going to figure out which one it is. 


Samantha, when you look at the guests that have had on the show, that have been on the program, who do you think has been the best in terms of just being a genuinely hilarious person who rolls with the kinds of punches that you guys on the show send their way? 

BEE:  I agree with D.J.

I think Jon McCain is one of my favorite guests on the show.  I also really—although I had don‘t find him terribly humorous, I always love it when Richard Clarke is on the show.  I think he‘s a really great guest, for me.  He speaks to me.  He doesn‘t make me laugh.  He sort of makes me cry, but I always enjoy it.


NORVILLE:  Another part of the humor I think is just Jon‘s mannerisms and the way he physically gets into it. 

I want to roll a clip of hurricane coverage as provided by “The Daily Show.”  And you‘ll see what I‘m talking about.


STEWART:  I have got to tell you, Florida, now four hurricanes in a row have hit Florida.  And I just want to say very quickly to God, we get it. 


STEWART:  You are powerful.  My God.  Look, I don‘t understand.  What did we do?  We had a couple of hot buns contest down there and Latin music explosion and suddenly you are like, I‘m going to blow you away.



NORVILLE:  It‘s the facial expressions that get me, the eyes going up like this.  It‘s kind of like he‘s turned into Herman Munster or something. 

DRYSDALE:  I wrote all of those facial expressions. 

NORVILLE:  You wrote the facial expressions. 

HAVLAN:  We go over them with him. 


NORVILLE:  So when you look ahead—we the talked about the debates last night.  Look ahead to Tuesday night.  It‘s Cheney vs. Edwards. 

JAVERBAUM:  There‘s no contrast there, none.  They‘re both cut from the same cloth. 


NORVILLE:  What do you see the material looking ahead as being on that? 

JAVERBAUM:  That is going to be a normal show, in that we will watch it Tuesday night and then will have a chance to sort of digest it, process it and do it on Wednesday.  So...

NORVILLE:  But come on, you have got the good looking matinee idol guy and...

DRYSDALE:  Cheney.

NORVILLE:  Mr. Cheney. 


NORVILLE:  And then you have got the guy from North Carolina up against him. 

JAVERBAUM:  To be honest with you, yes, that is what is the backstory in our minds.

But we will just try to watch with an open mind, as we did last night, and just sort of react to the what happened.  We are fundamentally reactive.  We‘re not active.  We‘re reactive, like I guess any, you know, real journalist would be, in that we just—whatever we see or whatever we hear, that‘s what we‘re going to play off of. 

HAVLAN:  I think it‘s also that although we‘re likely to mention what you just mentioned, we‘re also—we‘re more likely to, in the end, stay away from it and go somewhere else, because...

NORVILLE:  Because it‘s so predictable? 

HAVLAN:  Because, yes, that‘s what people kind of like go ahead and talk about on—and it‘s meaningless, really.  It doesn‘t have anything to do with what should be being talked about.  And we shouldn‘t necessarily be the people who are talking about what should be talked about, but, you know, sometimes we are. 

NORVILLE:  You have definitely become that. 

We‘re going to take a short break.  When we come back, the numbers, how “The Daily Show” has become a source of news and information for folks. 

And we‘re going to get into the book on American democracy, as put together

by the fine folks on this program.

Here is a look at one page on the presidential election. 


NORVILLE:  So just who is watching “The Daily Show”?  Are they a bunch of stoned slackers, as Bill O‘Reilly said, or something completely different?

More in a moment.


NORVILLE:  We‘re reading these quotes from the new book by the staff of “The Daily Show.”  It‘s called “America the Book: A Citizen‘s Guide to Democracy in Action.”

And the people who wrote the book are actually laughing at their own material, which is great, because they continue to be tickled by what they do every day.

We have got with us the correspondents from “The Daily Show,” Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee.  They‘re with us in another location, an undisclosed location, looking for Dick Cheney I guess.  And with me here in the studio, head writer David Javerbaum and writers Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan.

We were talking a moment ago about the fact that “The Daily Show” has become not just for some but for a significant number of people—there was a study by the Pew Center, which regularly looks at media issues; 21 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds in this country get the majority of their news and information from the program that these people work on. 

Stephen, does that stun you to hear? 

COLBERT:  As I said before, I really kind of find it hard to believe because I think they have to have some sense of what the news is before they come to us. 

But if the Pew Research Center says so, then who am I to question them? 


NORVILLE:  But they do have—they don‘t get the jokes, do they? 

COLBERT:  Right.

Not only will they not get our jokes.  They wouldn‘t not get like the second joke we make, which is not just the news, but how the news media reports it, the self-inflated, pompous style of the news, present company accepted. 

NORVILLE:  Of course.  Well, that‘s the ground rule for you people even being here, frankly,.



NORVILLE:  But when you look at it, you‘ve said last night was a live show.  It was very different.  It was very much on the fly.

After the next debate, you won‘t go live.  You will do it on Wednesday, which means your viewers will have seen everything, the morning shows and the evening news and the cable news outfits have had to say about it.  Does that make it easier to make jokes? 

REGAN:  Yes, it does. 

I mean, like Stephen, Stephen Colbert, said a little earlier, if they don‘t bring some kind of knowledge to the table, the audience, they are not going to laugh at what we‘re doing. 

I remember, when we first started doing Enron jokes on the show, the crowd was quiet, I mean, for the most part.

NORVILLE:  Because they were clueless? 

REGAN:  Yes, I didn‘t know anything about Enron. 

NORVILLE:  So why were you doing jokes about it? 

REGAN:  I was doing jokes about—they weren‘t particularly funny jokes at all.  But as people went out there and began to read newspapers and other news sources and come back to our show, then they began to get it and laugh a bit more.  They might not get their news from us.  They might get a bit of their opinion about the news from us. 

HAVLAN:  Yes, that‘s what I think, that they get their news—clearly, it‘s silly.  We cover a couple of stories.  They get their news in other places as well. 

I think the best thing that our audience learns from us is how to interpret the news.  They get an idea of, they don‘t necessarily have to believe the surface of what they are seeing.  They can dig a little deeper and they begin to understand the different angles that you can look at the news from.  And that‘s what we do and what they learn.  That‘s what they like.  When they get it right, they get a kick out of it. 

NORVILLE:  So you would argue that people are actually better news consumers for having watched your comedy show? 

HAVLAN:  They are probably better news critics, probably.

JAVERBAUM:  Yes.  Yes, I think that‘s a better way to put it. 


Here is a clip of your show where you talk just about what we‘re talking about, which is how the press covers news.  Take a look. 


NARRATOR:  They have battled negative press.  They have defended their respective pasts.  Now they face their toughest challenge yet, speaking without a teleprompter.  Join “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” for the full coverage of the first one-on-one debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush with in-depth analysis of what they meant by what they said, what they probably should have said and how much damage was caused by what they actually said. 



NORVILLE:  That actually was a promo highlighting your election night coverage, which you will be doing throughout the campaign—or your debate-night coverage.  Are you making fun at the news guys or.... 


NORVILLE:  Are you laughing at us or with us?



COLBERT:  I like to think that we‘re celebrating the news through mockery. 

JAVERBAUM:  Yes, it‘s mockebration. 

NORVILLE:  Mockebration. 



JAVERBAUM:  Yes, we kind of are.  I mean, you know, we think that the way things are covered sometimes leaves a lot—something to be desired.

And, as satirists, what our job is, is to find something that is less than perfect and to illustrate that through humor.  And so that‘s something that, we do it.  That‘s one of the things that is in our purview of comedy. 

NORVILLE:  Do you feel that you need to cover certain news stories or you will only go there if you can figure a way to get a yuk out of it? 

DRYSDALE:  In most cases, there‘s a certain degree to which we have to follow what‘s going on in the news from some of the reasons we‘ve already talked about.  People have to know what we‘re talking about for them to laugh at it.

But the No. 1 concern to us is what‘s going to be funny.  We‘re a comedy show first and foremost.  So what‘s laugh-worthy is more important than what is newsworthy to us. 

REGAN:  All right, Eric. 


NORVILLE:  So if you can‘t find a way to make something about a news story funny, the folks who watch “The Daily Show” are never going to hear about it? 


And our less successful jokes on the show are jokes that elicit clapping from the audience, and, like, because the joke winds up being knowing than just a sort of—a pretty bald statement of an opinion.  And that‘s better than nothing, but it‘s not the goal.  The better things on the show are jokes that get laughter and are funny.  That‘s always the goal.  And we succeed better or worse on different days. 

NORVILLE:  Well, here‘s a look at the people who are “The Daily Show” vs. the “O‘Reilly” show, because O‘Reilly had said they were a bunch of stoned slackers.

You guys did some research and let‘s throw the graphic up and take a look at it.  “The Daily Show” viewer is more likely to have had four years of college, 78 percent who watch your show vs. 24 percent who watch that other show. 

JAVERBAUM:  What it doesn‘t say is that “The Daily Show” also are more likely to have had nine years of college. 


JAVERBAUM:  So it cuts both ways.


NORVILLE:  So they repeat programs.


COLBERT:  Yes.  It was actually in college where they did most of the stoned slacking. 


NORVILLE:  There you go. 

DRYSDALE:  And to be fair, O‘Reilly, a lot of air conditioner repairmen. 


NORVILLE:  They‘re an important viewing part of the audience, I‘m sure.  And he‘s glad to have them.

We‘re going to take a quick break.  When we come back, we‘re going to have more with my group of guests.  And we‘re going to take a look at their new book, “America: A Citizen‘s Guide to Democracy in Action.”  Here‘s another factoid from the book as we go to the break.


NORVILLE:  More fun facts from the new book from the staff of “The Daily Show,” what is called “America the Book: The Citizen‘s Guide to Democracy in Action.”

And here is some news for you.  It will debut at No. 1 on “The New York Times” best-seller list. 

Back with us now, you just saw two of them, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee.  They are correspondents.

No. 1, you got it, on the best-seller list.  And these are the folks who made it happen.


NORVILLE:  Calm down.

David Javerbaum, writers Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan.

I‘m sure each of you has a favorite thing in here.  But I want to ask you what you learned in doing this, because the thing about this book, it‘s funny.  Any time you open up a page, you‘re going to get a laugh.  But you guys had to make sure your history was right before you did it.  What did you relearn that you didn‘t know you didn‘t know anymore? 

DRYSDALE:  I didn‘t know that there were three branches to our government. 


NORVILLE:  Oh, get out of here.  So you really started from a base of zero knowledge. 

DRYSDALE:  Yes.  I thought that there were six. 



NORVILLE:  There were actually three. 

DRYSDALE:  There are actually three, it turns out. 

COLBERT:  Well, Eric, counting the shadow government, there actually are six. 


NORVILLE:  Samantha, as a Canadian, how much participation did you have in this? 


BEE:  I have a few little—I made a small contribution to the book. 

But I know knowing of America.  I take the book literally. 

JAVERBAUM:  Samantha has a wonderful running series of essays in the book called, “Would you mind if I tell you how we do it in Canada?” 


JAVERBAUM:  Yes.  And she explains how it‘s done in Canada.  And it‘s very sweet. 

REGAN:  It‘s really too bad she is being deported, actually.

BEE:  Yes. 

REGAN:  She has made a tremendous contribution. 


NORVILLE:  I want to go to the book. 

And there is one section that I understand is only in until the election.  Then, after the election, any future copies will not have this part in it.  It‘s called “The Tale of the Tape.”  And there is one comparison where you look at the military awards between the two candidates for president.  There are the awards won by John Kerry, a Bronze Star, Silver Star, two Purple Hearts. 

And, as you say it here, Dave, would you like to tell us the award that President Bush has won? 

JAVERBAUM:  The Dannelly Air National Guard Base No New Cavities Award.


NORVILLE:  Who comes up with this?  I actually laughed out loud when I saw that in the book. 

JAVERBAUM:  That particular joke, I don‘t know.

But, in general, like, for things like that, where there is a whole series of jokes, we—all the writers will get together and submit a lot of different jokes.  And then it‘s our job to pick the best.  It‘s my job, along with Ben Karlin (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Jon, to pick the best ones and turn that into the piece. 

NORVILLE:  Another fun one in the same section of book is, viscous substance underpinning personal fortune.  John Kerry, Heinz tomato ketchup.  George Bush, oil, a little bit of the background. 

J.R., what is it you want people to get out of this book?  Because it‘s funny, but there really is actual information in there behind the jokes. 

HAVLAN:  Well, I didn‘t—I didn‘t think about what I wanted to get out of it, you me know, just laughs.  I don‘t really sit around and—and I don‘t think a lot of us sit around thinking we‘re really educating people. 

And so that‘s probably why we are always sort of surprised when people say they are educated by our show or by this thing.  There is stuff that you could learn in there if you didn‘t already know it.  And that‘s great.  But then again, maybe you should have known it. 

JAVERBAUM:  I think there‘s also a sense that we all have.  We are asked a lot now about these questions about our role in this and that.  And I think we all kind of innately are afraid of spending too much time staring at our own belly buttons and wondering about our significance. 

It‘s our job to just do our job, write our show.  And the context of our show is not our job to determine.

NORVILLE:  And, finally, Stephen, what does it to feel like to knock Kitty Kelley off the top 10 of the best-seller list? 

COLBERT:  Fantabulous. 

NORVILLE:  Fantabulous.


NORVILLE:  All right, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, David Javerbaum, Chris Regan, Eric Drysdale and J.R. Havlan, congratulations on the book.  Congratulations on the successful show.  And thanks so much for being with us.  We appreciate it.  


JAVERBAUM:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  And for all of you who want to check out this book, just go to our Web site.  We have got some excerpts of “The Daily Show” book, “America: A Citizen‘s Guide to Democracy in Action,” on our Web site.  The address is NORVILLE.MSNBC.com.

When we come back, this week‘s “American Moment.”  Stay tuned. 


NORVILLE:  This week‘s “American Moment” took place in our nation‘s capital, Washington, D.C., with the announcement that Major League Baseball is returning after 33 years. 


ANTHONY WILLIAMS (D), MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.:  I‘m thrilled as mayor of this city that the American game is rounding third and heading for home right here to Washington, D.C., our nation‘s capital. 



NORVILLE:  The Washington Senators, perennial American League doormats, packed up and moved to Texas in 1971.  There‘s the old saying that goes, the Washington Senators, first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League. 

Well, now baseball is coming back and it seems as though some things never change.  It‘s yet another last-place team that is moving in.  The Montreal Expos, who are in last place in the National League East, are headed south to play in Washington, D.C. next year.  But that doesn‘t matter to diehard baseball fans in the nation‘s capital.  They are getting a team again after all these years, Washington‘s eighth big-league franchise, starting with the Washington Statesmen in 1884.

No name yet for the new team, but we‘re pretty sure that that will trigger a fair amount of debate, which is fitting for a team that once again may be called the Senators.  Maybe there‘s one thing everybody in Washington can finally agree on.  And that is that this deserves to be this week‘s “American Moment.”

We love to hear from you, so send us your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.

And that‘s our program for tonight.  Thanks so much for watching.  I‘m

Deborah Norville.  Join us on Monday, when we talk to the two point people

who organized and help set all those rules for this year‘s presidential

debate.  There‘s still a lot of buzz about those rules, some of which were

not followed.  Plus, we‘ll look ahead to Tuesday night‘s vice presidential

between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and then another weekly debate, this

one on the Trump boardroom.  We‘ll be joined by Carolyn Kepcher of “The

Apprentice” for a look at what is really happening on the show this season

·         that and much more coming up on Monday.  So join us then. 


Thanks for watching. 



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