​Jon Stewart: I despise interviewing politicians

Jon Stewart hosted his final late night talk show this past week, but not before sitting down with our Mo Rocca. (An earlier version of this story aired on November 9, 2014.)

"Is that really a sun decal on your notes?" said Stewart. "I'm hoping that's from the hotel and not from the Mo Rocca collection."

"No, it's the CBS 'Sunday Morning' logo," our correspondent explained, "and my name is at the bottom."


"Oh, is that true? What, the logo is the sun? I knew that, because I watch!" he laughed. "I'm up all the time. It's right on the screen."

"This piece will end with, like, a decorative sun," said Rocca.

"Is that true? And do all pieces end with a decorative sun?"

"Yes, people send in the suns!"

Jon Stewart can be forgiven for sleeping in on Sunday mornings. For the past 16 years, he hosted Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

It's a tenure that came to a close on Thursday, when "Daily Show" alumni (Rocca included) returned to send Stewart off.

Stewart didn't just host the show; the 52-year-old ran the show -- and turned the nightly news satire into a a nightly news source for many.

STEWART: "We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe! Nine people shot in a church -- what about that?"

And in at least one case, Stewart's influence had a very tangible effect. After he invited 9/11 first responders onto his show, Congress voted to federally fund their healthcare -- a move largely credited to Stewart.

And in 2013, when then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius came on the show to pitch Obamacare, the show once again made headlines -- but not the kind Sebelius wanted.

SEBELIUS: "Hundreds of thousands of accounts created. We have --"
STEWART: "So hundreds of thousands of people have signed up?"
SEBELIUS: "Of accounts created, which means that then they're gonna go shopping. Jon, this is like a kayak site where you might check out what plane you want to get on."

"Her answers, I felt, were so beyond understanding," Stewart laughed. "Like, what are you talking about?"

And then there was the interview with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Stewart believes he let Rumsfeld off too easy during this exchange about the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

STEWART: "In the effort that it took to sell us this . . . "
RUMSFELD: "That's a little strong."
STEWART: "'Sell'? Let me back up: In the effort it took the administration to . . . present?"

Stewart recalled the exchange with Rumsfeld: "You were selling it. You presented the positives. You didn't present the negatives. You present -- '"

"'Presented our case.'

"'Okay, fine.' And then I moved on. I should have just stayed there. I lost a lot of sleep on that one. He didn't!"

But Rumsfeld's former boss is one big name who never appeared on the show with Stewart (despite the host's offer of a complimentary set of steak knives). Rocca asked, "Would you have liked to have George W. Bush on the show?"


"I guess I would have liked to, but it would have been awfully uncomfortable," Stewart replied.

"I'm still somewhat upset about the things that have been done during his time," he laughed. "And I think I would find it difficult."

Coincidentally, when this interview with Stewart aired last November, "Sunday Morning" also aired a profile of President Bush.

Rocca asked Stewart what he would say, "if we had a magical device where you could jump from this interview into that interview and ask him anything?"

"Tell me about umber and how it helps you when painting cats; I think it would be that," Stewart laughed. "I think I would just stick with the painting stuff.

"Jimmy Carter's, like, 108, he's out in Africa, pulling Guinea worms out of children's feet trying to cure them. Bush is at home: 'Ah, bring me my fruit bowl, I'm doin' a still life. Heh heh heh'"

"Do you like interviewing politicians?"

"No. I despise it," said Stewart. "As most sentient creatures, I think, would. Imagine having to interview salespeople. They're salespeople! They live in a world of denial and conjuring. It's very strange, it's very strange to talk to people who have lost their awareness that that's what they're doing. At least with a salesperson, they'll every now and again, they go, 'Look, I shouldn't be tellin' you this. This is a piece of crap.'"