Comedian Jon Stewart returned to the set of his old show for the first time since retiring last night, joining new host Trevor Noah on The Daily Show to advocate for 9/11 first responders.
“I’m sorry sir, are you lost?” declared Noah as Stewart walked on screen for the first time, wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of his usual suit and tie on the program. “Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, shit. Are you here to take your show back?” quipped Noah.
“A thousand times no,” responded Stewart, who quickly pivoted to his pitch for borrowing airtime.
“I have this issue I care about very deeply and I was wondering — I want to get attention paid to it but I was realizing I don’t have a show, and nobody gives a shit anymore. So I thought, you have a show, and maybe I could come.”
Stewart was there to promote the re-authorization of the Zadroga Act, which was enacted by congress in 2010 to pay for healthcare for 9/11 first responders who got cancer and other serious diseases as a result of prolonged exposure to polluted air at the twin tower sites.
Congress had originally set the 5-year funding limit for the act to make sure that nobody was cheating the system — and that the science regarding the causes of many first responders’ diseases was sound. According to Stewart, it was. But congress didn’t re-enact the bill this fall.
So, in the second half of his segment, Stewart went to Washington with some of the first responders (an event which took place last week), attempting to get meetings with congressman who didn’t sign the bill, but who had previously declared to support 9/11 first responders. It was tough to get a meeting, but Stewart and his crew did the best they could, eventually speaking to Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who signed on to the bill that evening.
Stewart, a native New Yorker, has been a long time advocate of 9/11 first responders, even hosting a panel on his show for the passage of the bill in 2010. His use of Noah’s airtime shows how much he cares about getting something done for those who risked their lives in the wreckage.
But more than anything, it’s a way for Stewart to hopefully embarrass the United States congress into action.
“This seems like a no-brainer, so what is holding it up?” asked Noah of the politics involved in getting the bill re-passed.
“No brains,” responded Stewart.