Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In

Jon Stewart’s Stinging Rebuke of Presidential Promises to Get off Oil

9:36 AM PDT on June 17, 2010

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future

Stewart fired one of his more brilliant salvos last night, synthesizing
40 years of political posturing around energy independence and
America's addiction to foreign oil in just under eight minutes of
pointed satire. Using President Obama's Oval Office speech on Tuesday,
where he urged a new energy future, Stewart skewered his rhetoric by
playing clips from the past seven presidents, dating to Nixon, as they
also pledged to get us off oil.

As he so often does,
Stewart offers purer critique of the issue with a few short video clips
and montages than the whole of the punditocracy blabbering on in other

"For decades, we have known the days of cheap and
easily accessible oil are numbered," said President Obama. "Now is the
moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash
America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny."

believe I can fly…" Stewart breaks in, very off key, before continuing,
"On non-petroleum based technology… or giant magnets or hamsters
running simultaneously.. some other type of energy source we haven't …"

Of course, Obama's call to arms is virtually identical
to one given by George W. Bush in 2006, and Clinton in 2000, Pappy Bush
in 1988 and on down the line to 1974, when Nixon exclaimed, "We will
break the back of the energy crisis. We will lay the foundation for our
future capacity to meet America's energy needs from America's own

All the presidents also lay out technology fixes,
alternative fuels (love Carter's "gasahol"), and aggressive timelines
that become somewhat less aggressive with each successive president.

of all the ironies, as Stewart pointed out in his bit, despite Nixon's
reviled past and suspect ethics, he was one of the few presidents to
give us meaningful environmental protections by establishing the EPA
and signing the Clean Water Act. With the others at the helm, we've
done nothing to abate our consumption of oil, nor meaningfully reduce
our over-reliance on driving.

American presidents have
talked the energy independence talk for four decades now, but we
continue to drive the drive without changing our ways. I don't know if
we will ever elect to move away from fossil fuels affirmatively, or if
we will be forced to innovate when the miracle of oil energy dries up
or destroys the ecosystems we love and need, but I find it hard to be

Anyone else as affected by this clip as me?

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Guest Opinion: Metro Should Treat Walk and Bike Projects with the Respect They Deserve

Prioritizing true first mile/last mile infrastructure isn’t somehow optional; it’s how your customers get to and from the transit stations.

September 21, 2023

Eyes on the Street: Slow Streets in South Pasadena

The city has a sampler platter of quick-build temporary traffic calming installations to experience for the rest of the year

September 20, 2023

Metro Board Looks to Approve $65 Million for 91 Freeway Widening Projects

Metro staff are recommending the board approve funds to support two 91 Freeway expansion projects located in pollution-burdened communities in Southeast L.A. County - in the cities of Long Beach, Artesia, and Cerritos

September 19, 2023
See all posts