Jon Stewart has just signed up for more Daily Shows and his online presence is now even fancier. But is his clout peaking? My take on the extraordinary influence of the best hour of satire on television:

This moment will pass, of course. One gets a sense that it may be peaking already. For satire to work well, it has to let off the collective steam of a nation. It needs a po-faced, Cheney-style establishment to mock. As the religion-drenched era of Republican hegemony wanes a little, the satirists begin to become part of the establishment themselves. Colbert’s presidential run may be a step too far. Perhaps, in retrospect, these last, ragged months of the Bush administration will come to seem the high-water mark of the Colbert-Stewart tide. But it’s been a joy while it’s lasted.

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