Jon Stewart made a surprising return to The Daily Show last night to thunderous applause. It’s been more than four months since Jon left the chair to Trevor Noah, and yesterday he came on the show to blast Congress for not renewing the Zadroga Act, USA Today reports.
The act funds healthcare for first responders of the 9/11 attacks, many of whom have cancer and pulmonary diseases from breathing in the fumes and debris from the falling buildings.
Mr. Stewart entered into the backdrop unexpectedly on air, showing off a white beard and casual attire. It’s a new look for him, who calls himself “unemployed” during the video segment shown soon after his appearance.
This is a cause he’s been supporting for quite some time, so to see him come back and fight for it on The Daily Show wasn’t something outside the realm of possibility for Stewart.
Stewart begins by attacking Congress, saying, “They actually only funded the Zadroga Act for five years; they said that they wanted to make sure that the program wouldn’t have people that tried to cheat it and that you can scientifically prove a link between the responders horrible diseases and the toxic air that they were breathing day in and day out working at ground zero.”
After some banter back and forth between Jon and Noah, Stewart makes the case that Congress is forgetting about the 9/11 first responders.
“The only conclusion that I can draw, is that the people of Congress are not as good a people as the people who are first responders.”
He then launches into a video segment where he visits Congress to “shame them” into signing the bill. Stewart stops by the offices of Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Rob Portman, where he runs into some trouble trying to speak with the representatives.
Stewart does find Rob Portman near the end of the segment and talks him into signing the bill later that day.
“So maybe shame does work,” quips Jon near the end of the video.
Later in the show, Jon sits down with retired firefighter Kenny Specht to talk about the Zadroga Act. The Wall Street Journal reports that Kenny actually appeared on The Daily Show five and a half years ago with three other firefighters. Two of those men have since become too sick to come back on live television, and one of them has passed away.
“We met with Mitch McConnel, and he gave us his word that he’s going to attach us to the Omnibus Bill,” Kenny revealed, “and he’s going to fully fund and permanently extend the Zadroga Healthcare Act.”
Mr. Stewart then called on everybody watching The Daily Show to use social media to try to raise awareness for what’s happening on Capitol Hill by tweeting with #WorstResponders.
“Everybody get on social media and tell Mitch McConnel and Paul Ryan, and congress to do the right thing,” urged Stewart, “pass the Zadroga Reauthorization Act.”
Trevor Noah basically handed the whole show over to Jon Stewart yesterday, and the tone of the show was much more serious than normal thanks to the subject they were discussing.
If yesterday is any sign of the future, we might see Jon Stewart back on the show in the next few weeks and months to sprinkle in some surprise appearances. There’s no threat for Jon Stewart to come back, though, despite Trevor Noah’s comments that he “heard about this in American TV.” The Zadroga Act is set to come up this week and be voted on.
[Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images]