ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is this election any different from the last two you covered?
JON STEWART: I was convinced an Obama/McCain campaign would be measurably different on almost all standards. And to watch it become Bush/Kerry, Bush/Gore, has been one of the most dissatisfying experiences.
STEPHEN COLBERT: That means it's not an Obama/McCain campaign. It's a Guys Who Work for Bush/Guys Who Work for Kerry campaign. Both sides have people who are just smart enough to know ''We need to tweak this dial right here,'' so of course voters are divided 50/50 between the parties. When the 2000 election was down to 14 voters in Boca deciding the whole thing, I thought, ''Wow, that's great! It really is a political science! They've found a way to put electrodes in people's hands, and a probe up their butt, show them images, and say 'See how they respond!'''
STEWART: That's why you think to yourself, ''Hey, couldn't you guys tie for $10 million, instead of a trillion? Does it really cost that much money to tie?''
You both have a heavy armor of irony. Does all this ever get to you?
STEWART: This job is the hardest when we are directly exposed to the process: When we go to the conventions, when we go up to New Hampshire that's the only time I ever feel like, ''Oh, my God, are my glands swollen?''
COLBERT: After the 2006 Correspondents' Dinner [in which Colbert gave a scathing satirical speech about Bush with the President right in front of him, earning some hardcore Beltway backlash], Jon said, ''You touched it. You got close enough to touch it, and it got on you.'' Then more than a year passed, and I got kicked off the ballot in South Carolina during my brief presidential run. I had actually been on the phone with people in South Carolina, telling me I was gonna be fine. People were on the phone lying to me. And I called Jon and said, ''I touched it...again.'' That was disappointing. I thought I could put myself all the way in it and not feel it, but I did. I realized, ''I understand, maybe, why people end up not being so good.'' Because they get lied to a lot.
Can anyone break through this mess?
STEWART: I worry that those people are there, but we won't recognize them or we'll destroy them so thoroughly that their voice won't be heard. I just imagine Lincoln out there, and people throwing the gay stuff at him. ''And what about depression running in his family?''
NEXT PAGE: ''Can you imagine if someone said, 'I shouldn't have bought that sports car because it means I can't have my house,' and the bank just said, 'All right, you can have your house. And you know what? Keep the car.' [He throws up his arms joyfully and shouts] 'Yeaaaaah, I get to keep the car! Wait, do I have to give the money back?' 'No, it doesn't matter.' 'Yeah, I'm gonna get another car! I'm gonna do the same thing the same way, except twice as f---ed up!'''