Jon Stewart loves Ron Paul. OK, maybe “loves” is too strong a word here. The "Daily Show" host appreciates GOP presidential hopeful Congressman Paul of Texas quite a bit. That doesn’t mean he wants him to win, though.
“I don’t know if he should be president or have any kind of power but I like him as our idea guy,” said Mr. Stewart during his roundup on Wednesday’s Republican debate from the Reagan library.
You know how the whole recent Stewart-Paul dynamic developed, right? Last month the Comedy Central comedian pointed out that Paul’s second-place finish in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll had gone virtually unmentioned by the media. Reporters instead puffed up Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hadn’t participated, or candidates who finished below Paul. [Editor's note: The original version misstated Paul's performance in the straw poll.]
“How did libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?” asked Stewart on his show.
Paul got lots of attention from this. Maybe Paul’s Stewartian quasi-boost was what led to his running only 2 percentage points behind President Obama in a head-to-head matchup in a late August Gallup poll.
Or maybe it was that Obama is so weak at the moment he’s not doing too well against any Republican.
Anyway, during his Thursday show Stewart griped that Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate was set up as a two-person faceoff between Governor Perry and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. They were placed in the center of the stage, and lots of the questions were directed at them.
So what did Ron Paul and the other outsider candidates do to try and get some attention?
“Congressman Ron Paul, knowing that his opportunities to talk would be scarce, set the dial to ‘11,’ ” said Stewart.
This comment was followed by a montage of clips of Paul speaking with animation on the debate stage. In short order, the libertarian lawmaker charged that Transportation Security Administration workers are abusive, said that if we took air conditioning out of the Green Zone US troops would quickly come home from Iraq, questioned whether the government should regulate car safety, and said he could buy a gallon of gas for a dime.
(The trick is it’s a silver dime. They’re worth about $3.50. Paul is a big believer in precious metals.)
Then came the piece de Paulistance, Paul’s comments on the border fence with Mexico. Stewart ran tape of Paul saying this:
“Sure we can secure the borders. A barbed wire fence with machine guns would do the trick. I don’t believe that is what America is all about.... I think this fence business is designed and may well be used to keep us in,” said Paul.
That’s when Stewart turned on the praise gusher.
“I’m telling you, this is why we need this guy in the race! He is the only guy in any political party who realizes that at some point we might want to sneak into Mexico,” said Stewart.
“He generates a lot of ideas. He could be like America’s Kramer,” said Stewart, referring to the "Seinfeld" character Cosmo Kramer, whose fictional ideas (or more properly, ideas in a fictional universe) included beach-scented cologne, make-your-own pizza restaurants, and a coffee table book about coffee tables.
So if Ron Paul is America’s Kramer, does that make Michele Bachmann America’s Elaine? And who’s Jerry? You can discuss this amongst the comments.