President Obama’s Final Daily Show Interview Brings Powerful Ideas On College Reform (Video)

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On last night’s (July 21) episode of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart had no monologue, no schtick, and went on zero tangents. And for good reason. His guest was President Barack Obama, a leader who is entering the final year of his tenure. Stewart is also a leader (of sorts) getting ready to abdicate his throne. On August 6, the longtime host of Comedy Central’s flagship news-satire series will retire, with Trevor Noah stepping in as his replacement. Obama will remain President until 2016, and, as he shared with Stewart, he’s got a lot to say about recent developments and what he hopes to achieve in the coming months.

The topics ranged from the light-hearted (Obama opened the conversation with  “I can’t believe that you’re leaving before me!”), U.S. relations with Iran (“they are anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic”), veterans’ issues (“It is my belief that we have a sacred duty to these guys and gals”), climate change (he wants to “get something global to address” the environment at the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference), the president’s feelings about the media (“I think it gets distracted by shiny objects”), and more.

At one point in the interview (around 17:10), Stewart mentions what he considers to be a lack of sense of sacrifice in the United States. In an effort to combat what he calls a “loss in shared purpose as a country,” Stewart brings up the progressive idea about making college only three years, with a fourth dedicated to service, whether that be social service or another avenue. Obama is asked to share his thoughts on whether such a system would be viable, to which he responds “I think it would be a wonderful idea” and goes on to share his personal experiences. “The best education I got was for a few years me working in low-income neighborhoods as an organizer…I wanted to try to commit myself to something bigger than just me. The young people I meet around the country…they have the same sense. This notion that young people have lost their idealism…it’s not true.”

In a shift to the future, Obama shares his goals for the remainder of his presidency. “We’ve tried to expand things like Americorps as much as possible. Part of what we want to do is hopefully tie it more to getting a lower-cost college education…so that they get scholarships in return for the work that they’re doing.” The conversation spills into another 20-minute segment. In the extended interview, Obama speaks at great length about the obstacles faced by the V.A., his specific goals for the remainder of his tenure as it speaks to efficiency in government, healthcare, and the message he wants to fight the most (“that government doesn’t get stuff done”).

During the Obama presidency, has “The Daily Show” been the most informative and engaging media stop for the POTUS?