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Jon Stewart Explains to Stephen Colbert How He Learned to Like Joe Biden

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Former Vice President Joe Biden can thank Stephen Colbert for bringing Jon Stewart over to Team Joe. During a wide-ranging discussion on Wednesday’s episode of The Late Show, Stewart said that watching Colbert interview Biden helped him realize why the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is the ideal successor to President Donald Trump.

“Biden was not my guy. Wasn’t even in the top four or five. I was more of a Sanders, Warren [supporter],” Stewart told his old friend and former Comedy Central colleague. “I’m not crazy about the ‘Uncle Joe’ character. The Uncle Joey. ‘Hey, I took down corn pop. Hey, how you doing?’ The touchy-feely. I don’t like that schtick.”

But, Stewart added, “having watched him on your show and having spoken to him at other times and seeing him in other situations,” he began to view Biden’s down-home facade in a different light.

“I’ve recently been thinking about something and that is, we are a country in terrible anguish right now. We are in pain,” Stewart said. “American exceptionalism, the kind of blindfold is off, and we’re kind of seeing ourselves as who we really are. ‘American exceptionalism’ is not a title that you wear like you were Miss America in 1937 and you’ll always be Miss America. It takes effort and work to maintain. If you treat it like a fait accompli, it will erode and you will lose it. We are seeing that erosion, and we are fearful and we are angry and we are in pain. When I see Biden, past the shtick, I see a guy who knows what loss is, who knows grief.”

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“That’s it,” interjected Colbert.

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“And I think that that kind of grief humbles you,” Stewart continued, noting Colbert’s history with grief as well (the host’s father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash when he was 10 years old). “When you lose like that. And you know this and we’ve talked about these kinds of things because it’s something I appreciate about you as well. There’s a humility to the randomness of tragedy that brings about a caring that can’t be faked. And it can’t be contrived.”

Throughout his political career, Biden has often been hailed for his ability to console and comfort people. His first wife, Neilia, and his daughter Naomi died in a 1972 car crash. In 2015, his son Beau died of cancer, a loss Biden later told Colbert led to his decision to sit out during the 2016 presidential election.

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