Jon Stewart Makes Surprise Late Show Visit to Blast Trump’s ‘Exhausting’ Presidency

‘The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public!’

"We have never faced this before. Purposeful, vindictive chaos," said Stewart of Trump's presidency. - Credit by Michele Crowe/CBS
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Jon Stewart has finally weighed in on Donald Trump’s first 11 days as President, dropping in to Tuesday’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert to blast the Commander-in-Chief—and implore viewers that “all actions will be necessary” to survive his presidency.

Stewart, who is an executive producer on Colbert’s show, shared what he claimed were the president’s next executive orders. Dressed as Trump —complete with a red tie that went down well past his feet, an oversized sportcoat and a dead animal wrapped around his head—he joked to Colbert, “I thought this is how men dress now. …The president sets men’s fashion.”

Among Stewart’s faux executive orders: “to secure our border, China shall immediately and without hesitation, send us their wall” and “America now, finally, has an official language: Bullshit.”

As he delivered the final executive order, Stewart dropped the gag to deliver the kind of trenchant commentary that was a hallmark of his tenure as Daily Show host. Calling Trump “exhausting,” Stewart said, “It has been 11 days! The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public!”

Stewart continued, “It is going to take relentless stamina, vigilance and every institutional check and balance this great country can muster to  keep me, Donald J. Trump, from going full Palpatine,” referring to the evil Emperor from the Star Wars films.

Finally, Stewart-as-Trump rallied the audience: “We have never faced this before: purposeful, vindictive chaos. But perhaps therein lies the saving grace of my, Donald J. Trump’s, presidency. No one action will be adequate; all actions will be necessary. And if we do not allow Donald J. Trump to exhaust our fight, and somehow come through this presidency calamity-less, and constitutionally partially intact, then I, Donald J. Trump, will have demonstrated the greatness of America. Just not the way I thought I was gonna.”

This was Stewart’s first Late Show visit since the night before Election Day, when he joined Colbert for a musical number encouraging viewers to vote—but not for “that angry, tax- and draft-dodging little orange groundhog” Trump.

He has now made five appearances on the show, most of them surprise drop-ins. Last July, during a post-Republican National Convention live episode, he took down Trump and Roger Ailes in his first Daily Show-style rant in 11 months.

Stewart’s visit comes as the Late Show has been building considerable ratings momentum this year. Monday’s episode tied The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for first in the 18-49 demo (a 0.6 rating) in the local people metered markets, which is the first time Late Show has pulled even since Sept. 22.

During Colbert’s most recent full week of original episodes, the week of Trump’s inauguration, the Late Show finished only 8,000 viewers behind The Tonight Show—2.842 million total viewers to Fallon’s 2.850 million—which was the smallest gap since Colbert’s premiere week in September 2015. Colbert was further behind in the demo, with a 0.5 rating to Fallon’s 0.7.

Last week, CBS announced that Colbert will host this year’s Emmy Awards, which will be held Sunday, Sept. 17 on CBS.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.