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Instant Replay

Mocking the 2004 election—again.


Having conquered basic cable and bookstores, The Daily Show faces a new frontier: DVDs. Which raises the question, Does political humor have a sell-by date? Revisiting The Daily Show’s “Indecision 2004” DVD set (Paramount Home Video)—which consists mainly of the show’s coverage of last November’s election—might seem as fun as rewatching last year’s Super Bowl. But fear not. While the extras are skimpy and the droning pols no more insightful the second time around, the show’s razor-sharp bits—like the cutthroat convention coverage or the fake attack ad “Continental Skiff Boat Oarsmen for Veracity”—still elicit laughs, now rendered bittersweet with time. Better yet, this collection puts the lie to the tired misconception (voiced by, among others, Ted Koppel) that The Daily Show’s audience is made up of agnostic stoners. To the contrary, the show was a nightly balm for people deeply invested in the battle—and disgusted by the mainstream’s empty pomp. Is there a better summation of Bush’s election strategy than Stephen Colbert calling him “a president whose compassion, like the Olympics, triumphantly springs forth every four years”? And no historian has yet summarized the Democrats’ fatal misplays more succinctly than Jon Stewart did when he said of the convention’s opening night, “Monday’s theme: the Kerry-Edwards plan for America’s future. It was a powerful message, lacking only Kerry, Edwards, and a plan for America’s future.”


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