Before he left CNBC's Jim Cramer in the dirt, Jon Stewart had pretty much knocked CNN's Crossfire off the air and drawn blood from Chris Matthews and Bill Kristol, among others. No, he did not elect Obama, but he did play a role in helping him along, if only by demolishing the opposition.
Mainly it was through his show's withering and wicked mockery of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for several years, and much of the same directed at John McCain and Sarah Palin (Stewart suggested that she might be "tagged and released into the Alaskan wilderness"), along with its longtime criticism of the war in Iraq. Stewart had also given Stephen Colbert his own show, which provided its own subverting of the Republicans.
Here are just a few of Stewart's highlights for the final year of the election campaign, drawn from my new book, Why Obama Won.
January 2008: Jon Stewart played clips of various "experts" on Fox declaring that the main culprit behind our sinking financial picture and the sell-offs on Wall Street was fear of a Democratic victory in November. Stewart's comment: "How bad do the Democrats have to be to pre-fuck the economy?"
He also played statements by numerous pundits hailing Fred Thompson's chances, before he ran, closing with Bill Kristol calling him truly "formidable." Stewart: "Oh, Bill Kristol, aren't you ever right?"
Joe Biden, by serendipity, was booked on The Daily Show just as everyone was mocking his quip about Obama being "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Biden told Jon he was simply trying to be "complimentary" toward Obama, but wasn't "artful" in doing so. He said he had already called Obama, to which Stewart quipped, "I bet you did."
Biden then said he also called former candidates Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, to which Stewart added: "And Michael Jordan?"
March 2008: Appearing on The Daily Show on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama denied a hot rumor -- just started by Jon Stewart -- that he planned, if elected to the White House, to "enslave the white race." Obama quipped, "That is not our plan, Jon, but I think your paranoia might make you suitable as a debate moderator."
August: A Pew Survey finds that viewers of The Daily Show and Colbert Report are more knowledgeable about current affairs than watchers of shows hosted by Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and Larry King -- as well as average viewers of CNN, C-SPAN, Fox News, NBC, ABC and daily newspapers.
October 2008: Michelle Obama, the possible future First Lady, made her first appearance on The Daily Show, and it was a winner. Jon introduced her, in scary tones, as a longtime "associate" of Barack Obama, but somehow refrained from accusing her husband of fathering two black babies.
Later in the month, the candidate himself appeared. Obama cracked that no matter what he does, yes, there will be some Sean Hannity fans who won't want to go out for a beer with him.
One funny bit: After Obama questioned the "Bradley Effect" -- that a lot of white supporters won't be able to pull the lever for him -- Stewart speculated that, on Election Day, Obama's own white half might suddenly decide in the voting booth: "I can't do this."
"It's a problem," Obama quipped. "I've been going through therapy to make sure I vote properly on the 4th."
Then there was Bill Kristol appearing on the show to defend the McCain ticket and claim he would pull it out on election day. The New York Times columnist also predicted that Obama would disappoint his lefty supporters in office, prompting Stewart to ask, Why then are you and McCain calling him a radical leftist?
But the high point was Kristol asserting that Stewart was wrong about McCain because he was "reading The New York Times too much."
"But Bill," Stewart, replied, "you WORK for The New York Times."
Not for much longer.
Greg Mitchell's "Why Obama Won"contains a lot of HuffPost-related material . He is editor of Editor & Publisher.