It was all about Johns on ''The Daily Show'' Tuesday night. John Kerry granted his first major interview since the Democrats nominated him for president to Jon Stewart, whose Comedy Central faux-news show was also the place where John Edwards, now Kerry's running mate, first announced his presidential aspirations. And during their chat, Kerry shared this offbeat bit of campaign lore: ''You'd be amazed the number of people who want to introduce themselves to you in the men's room,'' the senator said. ''It's the most bizarre part of this entire campaign.'' ''I'm gonna make a suggestion,'' Stewart responded. ''Secret Service, right at the door.''
Kerry managed to get in a few talking points about his campaign positions, and a few digs at his rival, President George W. Bush. But Stewart frequently turned the topic to the recent attacks on Kerry's Vietnam service record made by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Though exhaustive investigations by several major newspapers have largely discredited the group's anti-Kerry allegations, made in a book and TV ads, its members continue to make their accusations on cable news interview shows. As Stewart put it, ''I watch a lot of the cable news shows. So I understand that apparently you were never in Vietnam.'' Kerry laughed and replied, ''That's what I understand, too. But I'm trying to find out what happened.''
Stewart said he also learned from his steady diet of cable news that Kerry was the Senate's most liberal member, ''more liberal than Karl Marx, apparently,'' a charge Kerry denied. Asked by Stewart if he'd ever flip-flopped, Kerry said, ''I've flip-flopped, flop-flipped,'' but then turned that charge, that he frequently comes down on both sides of an issue, against the President, saying, ''It doesn't help you to be stubborn in the wrong decision.'' Kerry also denied a rumor about his wife, Heinz Foods heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry. ''Is it true that every time I use ketchup your wife gets a nickel?'' Stewart asked. ''Would that it were,'' Kerry said. ''But use the ketchup a lot anyway.''