[thebook] From Comedy Central’s World News Headquarters in New York City, the hard-hitting reporting team of “The Daily Show” have brought their insights to world at large in a style all their own.
“The Daily Show with John Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction” has the sarcasm, wit and underlying intelligence of any “Daily Show” episode all wrapped up in a full-color package of glossy glory. Written by “The Daily Show” reporters and staff, with some contributions from host Jon Stewart, the book gives a skewed perspective of American politics and history, including a two-page chart explaining differing governments from democracy to Constitutional Robocracy (a society of robots!).
The book opens with a forward by none other than Thomas Jefferson, who evidently is taking a break from the whole being dead scene to talk a bit about today’s politics and inquire into Halle Berry’s single status. It takes off from there, poking fun at the ignorant masses and even-more-ignorant elected officials. “America” traipses through history into today with chapters like “The Founding Fathers: Young, Gifted and White” and “The Media: Can It Be Stopped?”
Although the book is bursting with oddball facts and completely made-up figures, the satire is clearly evident throughout. Chapters end with textbook-like questions and activities, like challenging “students” to form a country and giving them coupons for things like “no homework today”. Another set of “discussion” questions asks “Why do you think the framers made the Constitution so soul-crushingly boring?”
Like the show, the writers find their stride making fun of politicians. The social ribbing and fictionalized historical facts are juxtaposed with clearly accurate historical information that, although hilarious on the surface, calls into question the entire process in a deeply intelligent way. Although the writers never patronize the readers or reference insider democratic policies people don’t understand, between the lines lies a scathing look at how the trivialities of the political game can thwart the overall meaning of democracy.
The media doesn’t escape persecution either. The book is just as hard on journalists and talks about some of the complexities politicians have when dealing with the press. One section breaks this down into common responses they use. A whole chapter is devoted to the “inspirational” story of journalism and describes it as transforming “from a mere public necessity into an entertaining profit center for ever-expanding corporate empires.” Ouch!
The book is hilariously detailed and is sure to illuminate politics as the outlandishly funny process it is. The writers of “The Daily Show”, the tremendous nerds that they are, have put together a book that is surprisingly complex underneath, yet always remains shiny and happy at the hilarious surface.To see for yourself, turn to page 99 for a “courtly” pictorial playboy of which even Hugh Hefner would be proud.
If nothing else, “America” is highly amusing and a great coffee-table book, which is, of course, all “The Daily Show”, in their innocent reporting, could ever mean it to be.

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