by Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & & r & The Daily Show (Mondays-Thursdays, 11 pm, Comedy Central) & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & o a lot of people, Jon Stewart is an American folk hero. Like Will Rogers and Mark Twain before him, he uses his razor wit to slice through the hypocrisy of our times. Rogers, Twain -- that's some pretty heady company, but you can make the case that Stewart's evening dose of fake news (and potty humor) was all that kept a lot of Democrats from committing hara-kiri during the darkest days of the Republican Revolution.

So it's been tough to watch as The Daily Show has lost its edge in recent months. I don't want to say it's jumped the shark (if it has, you can say it was when Stephen Colbert left to lampoon Limbaugh and O'Reilly full time), but The Daily Show seems a little adrift.

Success has been the main problem -- Colbert and Steve "40-Year-Old-Virgin" Carell have both left to pursue their own projects; heck, I even miss former correspondents Rob Corddry (soon to have his own Fox sitcom) and Ed Helms (lately on The Office). With Hollywood's hunger for fresh faces more voracious than ever, good talent goes quick. But The Daily Show has flopped in replacing these guys -- new correspondents Jason Jones and Dan Bakkedahl almost seem to be trying to bomb.

Then there's John Oliver, a Brit who is hilarious in an over-the-top kind of way. And that kind of nails what's been wrong with the show lately -- it's too high-concept when it doesn't need to be. With two more years of Bush, this show can write itself. These days, truth is way funnier than fiction.

That's why I was so happy last week to see a long opening segment with Stewart, all alone, riffing on the now-infamous Dick Cheney-Wolf Blitzer interview. Donning a hunting cap and a Darth Vader helmet, he skewered Cheney in every way possible, tossing one-liners in between Cheney's own videotaped words to completely expose his hypocrisy on a dozen fronts. Stewart spoke the truth -- the devastating, uncomfortable kind "real" newscasts find a way to avoid -- and I was actually laughing again.

The Daily Show rides on Jon Stewart's fearless humor, and until they find some better help, he'll just have to carry more of the load. n


If you're still following the adventures of the castaways from Oceanic Flight 815, you can get your fix for the first time since November (also the first of 16 new episodes in a row). If Lost is starting to seem like a Twin Peaks replay, don't worry -- the Lost team is hatching (sorry) an ending, rather than just letting it trail off into cancellation. (Wednesday, 2/7, 10 pm, ABC)

Super Bowl XLI

Once a year, you can TiVo a show expressly so you can fast-forward through the program to get to the commercials -- or, if you're lucky, a wardrobe malfunction. And with Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts looking unstoppable, the only drama here may be the outcome of the Bud Bowl. (Sunday, 2/4, 3 pm, CBS)

Footballers' Wives

Life can be crazy if you're a young, rich socc... uh, football player and if your wife is an evil vixen who spends all your money. Marathons are always a good Super Bowl alternative, and this year, BBC America offers up eight hours of its frothy soap. (Sunday, 2/4, 2 pm-

10 pm, BBC America)

Outdoor European Christmas Market @ McIntire Family Park

Fri., Dec. 3, 4-8 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
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