Jon Stewart: More Popular than Letterman or Leno?

If you've been tuning into The Daily Show lately, you're not the only one! This past month, Jon Stewart was the most popular guy on late-night TV, surpassing late-night titans David Letterman and Jay Leno. Believe it or not, it's the first time in ten years that a show other than The Tonight Show or The Late Show earned the #1 spot. When did the handsome Daily Show host get promoted from cable underdog to King of Late Night?

Actually, we take that back -- Jon Stewart, funny as he is, probably won't stay on top of the ratings for long. But he did have a pretty amazing month, mainly due to two things: an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama, and the hugely successful Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C. Add the fact that it was an election month, and you have a recipe for Daily Show ratings gold.

Even if it's a temporary spike, we think that the popularity of Jon Stewart's late-night political schtick says a lot about where the country is at right now. In the midst of an economic crisis and a good amount of social change, not caring about politics doesn't seem like an option anymore. Many of us who aren't news junkies have suddenly found ourselves caring about things like who won local elections and which bills have reached the Senate. Watching The Daily Show is a painless way to get a better grasp on current events. And even though the show skews liberal (it would be silly to deny it), Jon Stewart is just as quick to criticize Democrats as Republicans. In fact, the show has often been pretty harsh on Obama's administration -- providing a nice outlet for those who voted for him, but now find themselves frustrated with the results.

We suspect that Jon Stewart is also getting a lot of viewers who are frustrated with cable news networks. Part of the idea of the Rally to Restore Sanity was that cable news was getting too sensational, too polarizing, and too downright mean. Stewart is an opinionated guy, but he's also an outspoken advocate for journalism that is truly fair and balanced. A lot of his job on The Daily Show is to call out the people who are putting a deceptive or unfair spin on the news, whether they're on Fox, CNN, or a major network. When everyone on TV is acting like the world's about to end, Jon Stewart has a talent for putting things in perspective.

No matter how you feel about Jon Stewart -- and he is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of character -- it's encouraging that enough Americans care about politics to give him the #1 rating. Nothing could be better for the U.S. right now than informed citizens -- except, perhaps, informed citizens who can laugh at themselves.

Do you love or hate Jon Stewart? Chime in below!

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