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Why Jon Stewart can't stop talking about Ron Paul

In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, comedian Jon Stewart holds up presidential hopeful Ron Paul as an example of something that’s unusual in US politics: consistency.

By Staff writer / September 19, 2011

Television host Jon Stewart holds the Emmy award for the 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' after winning for outstanding variety, music or comedy series, backstage at the 63rd Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

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Jon Stewart just can't stop talking about Ron Paul, apparently. There’s a long interview with "The Daily Show” host in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and in it Mr. Stewart holds up the libertarian GOP presidential aspirant as an example of something that’s unusual in US politics: consistency.

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The subject comes up when Stewart is describing how much fun it is to pore through old tape looking for instances in which politicians have contradicted themselves. Airing that kind of thing is a “Daily Show” staple.

“You know a guy you’d have a hard time doing that do? Ron Paul, because he’s been consistent over the years,” says Stewart. “You may disagree with him, but at least you can respect that the guy has a belief system he’s engaged in and will defend.”

Later in the interview, Stewart makes his now-familiar point that Representative Paul has been ignored by much of the media despite a strong showing in the Ames, Iowa, Republican straw poll and in some other early polls.

“Ron Paul has a constituency – like it or not, it’s there. How can you just ignore it? It makes no sense,” Stewart says.

Of course, since Stewart first voiced this opinion on his show last month, some reporters have taken the criticism to heart. Paul has indeed begun to attract a bit more coverage – for his willingness to mix it up with front-runner Rick Perry, if nothing else. This isn’t mentioned in the Rolling Stone interview, maybe because it occurred before that trend began. Magazines have such long lead times.

The lead-time problem could also account for the fact that Stewart does not address the instance from last week’s CNN/tea party debate, where Paul implied that charities should take care of Americans with health problems but no health insurance.

Most of the Rolling Stone piece on Stewart focuses on other stuff, such as his disdain for the 24-hour cable news environment. (Mostly, that means Fox News: Stewart and that channel have this semi-feud thing going on.)

“The picture that they create is one of conflict, because they’re on 24 hours a day, so they have to create a compelling reason for you to watch them,” Stewart says. “Otherwise, they’re just Muzak – newzak.”

Stewart also goes on at length about his disappointment with President Obama. The comedian believes the nation’s chief executive has ceded too much authority to other people and institutions. Mr. Obama seems like a smart guy but he’s not really leading, in Stewart’s view.

“I would suggest that his problem is not his lack of passion. It’s his lack of direction. I still don’t know what he believes in,” says Stewart. “I’m not sure what he truly thinks is the right path, other than that he believes the wealthy should pay a little bit more of their fair share.”

ELECTION 101: 10 things to know about Ron Paul

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