Jon Stewart Makes Surprise 'Daily Show' Return for 9/11 First Responders

Former host shames politicians into renewing the Zadroga Act, which would provide permanent health care to 9/11 first responders

Jon Stewart made a surprise return to 'The Daily Show' to shame Congress into approving permanent health care for 9/11 first responders.

Four months after leaving The Daily Show, former host Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance on the program. "Shit, are you here to take the show back? I heard about this in American TV," Trevor Noah asked. Instead, Stewart used his appearance as a podium to convince Congress to pass the Zadroga Reauthorization Act, which gives permanent health care to 9/11 first responders.

"It's soon going to be out of money," Stewart said. "These first responders, many sick with cancers and pulmonary disease, have had to travel at their own expense to Washington, D.C., hundreds of times, to plead for our government to do the right thing." In September, Stewart joined a protest outside of Capitol Hill demanding that the act be renewed before its October deadline, which it wasn't. "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."

Stewart, in the role of correspondent, then shared his trip to Washington, D.C. with some first responders to hand-deliver some shame to the congresspeople who voted against renewing the act. In most cases, the politicians hid from Stewart and the first responders "like meerkats and prairie dogs," but Stewart warned he would sit in their offices and wait all day. "I don't know if you know this: I don't really have a life anymore," he tells one aide. The trip wasn't totally futile, however: Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, promised to sign the bill after meeting with first responders. "So maybe shame does work," Stewart said.

In Stewart's second segment, the former host blames two specific politicians – House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – for the Zadroga Act's holdup. Stewart then revisits the four-person panel of 9/11 first responders he had on The Daily Show on 2009, only to discover that only one of them was well enough to appear on TV; two are seriously ill and one has passed away.