President Barack Obama joined Jon Stewart on The Daily Show for the seventh and final time Tuesday, and the president, with 18 months left in his term, sat down for an episode-long discussion with the host whose two weeks away from ending his own tenure. Obama’s first order of business on The Daily Show was alerting the audience that he’s issuing an executive order stating that Stewart can’t leave the show. However, “it’s being challenged in the courts.”
After wondering whether the president was suffering from “Senioritis,” Stewart first asked Obama why many of his significant endeavors – universal health care, the Iran nuclear deal – have happened with just one year left in his presidency.
“There’s no doubt that you get better as you go along. It’s like any other job,” Obama said, acknowledging Stewart’s own role as Daily Show host. “But what I do think has happened is a lot of the work we did early starts bearing fruit later. And it just so happened that over the last couple months that people are seeing some of the work that we started way back when I first came in.”
Keeping the momentum going, Obama said that his administration will next focus on the issue of climate change. “I’ve got 18 months. There are a bunch of other things that we want to get done. Some of them we got started early,” Obama added. “Climate change is a good example: Where we double our fuel efficiency standards on cars; increase solar power by 20 times. And now we got the Paris conference on climate change coming up later this year. And if we can get China and India and some of the other big countries to look at what we’ve already done and finally get something global, that would start addressing what is going to be.”
In the second portion of the interview, the two discussed the media and whether they’re demanding too much from the president. “First of all, the media is a bunch of different medias. There are some that get on my nerves more than others; I think that’s fair to say,” Obama said. “I think [the media] gets distracted by shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on the big, tough choices and decisions that have to be made.”
Obama then lamented that – because of technology’s eroding of attention spans – it’s difficult to get the nation’s focus on those “big, tough issues” and how all the left- or right-leaning news networks prevent us from having a “common conversation” regarding policies.
Obama and Stewart also tackled the issue of the escalating cost of college education and the president’s desire that the people make their voices heard. “The one thing I know, as I enter into the last year of my presidency, is that the country is full of good people, and there is a sense of common purpose at the neighborhood level, and the school and at the workplace,” Obama said. “That dissipates the further up it goes because all the money and because of all the filters and all the polarizing that takes place in terms of how our politics take shape. But the only way to prevent that is by people getting involved.”
Stewart wraps up the interview by asking Obama if he has any advice for future-President Trump. “I’m sure the Republicans are enjoying Mr. Trump’s dominance of their primary.” Stewart adds, “Anything that makes them look less crazy.” In their farewell, Obama tells Stewart that the host has been “a great gift to the country.”
Finally, Stewart ended his last Daily Show interview with Obama by dedicating a Moment of Zen to the president. Check out The Daily Show site for video of the extended Obama interview.