Jon Stewart has begun his tour of the nation's capital with a taping of The Daily Show before a "very, very policy-oriented" audience in Washington, The Washington Post's Dan Zak reports. ("We're not used to people nodding, like, 'Oh, I worked on that bill,' " Stewart said.) Stewart and Stephen Colbert's many young fans are packing their bags and arranging for sofas to crash on as they ready to head into D.C. for the comedians' pro-satire Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. But not everyone's so excited about the big bash. Stewart has obviously taken Glenn Beck's rally in August as inspiration, and some fear that Middle Americans will see the event as another example of smug elites mocking the heartland. (Whether it is elitist in itself to think that a show on Comedy Central that relies heavily on dick jokes is too high-brow to appeal to Real Americans is a question that remains unanswered.)

  • Centrism Is in a Sorry State, mourns Anne Applebaum at The Washington Post. "I don't know about you, but my heart sank when I read about Jon Stewart's Million Moderate March, planned for the Mall next weekend. My heart sank further when I learned that liberal groups, lacking any better ideas, have decided to take this endeavor seriously. It's bad enough that the only way to drum up enthusiasm for a 'Rally to Restore Sanity' is to make it into a television comedian's joke. But it's far worse that the 'moderates' in attendance will have been bused in by Arianna Huffington and organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This is how words, and then ideas, vanish from our political lexicon: Whatever connotations it once had, the word 'moderate' has now come to mean 'liberal' or even 'left-wing' in American politics."
  • Stewart's Not Fooling Anyone with his attempt to seem above having a particular point of view, John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood. His political orientation is crystal clear. "And therein lies Jon Stewart’s problem: We are on to him. And it appears as though his fans in the media are also finding it difficult to carry his I’m just a performer water this time, as well," Nolte says. Stewart is a victim of his own hubris. "The whole DC rally idea is too clever by half...  For so long Stewart’s floated above it all, for so long he’s been the MSM’s darling and so he probably started to see himself as invincible and just assumed his media friends would help keep the clown mask in place no matter how audaciously politicized his antics became (they are on the same side, after all). But even the media can only swallow so much, and to ask them to swallow the story that Saturday’s Restore Sanity rally is an apolitical event and not in any way inspired by, or a left-wing response to, the incredible success of Beck-a-Palooza, pretty much insults everyone’s intelligence."
  • This Isn't About Political Organizing, James Joyner writes at Outside the Beltway. "Stewart’s rally isn’t about organizing political centrists into some coherent movement; it’s a gimmick for a niche audience comedy show.   And, to the extent that there’s a political message, it isn’t 'Elect liberal Democrats' but rather 'Can we turn down the thermostat on our political rhetoric just a skosh?'"
  • Stewart's Numbers Could Trump Beck's observes FireDogLake's Attaturk, who is somewhat nervous about logistics. Organizers have ordered 508 port-a-potties for the rally, suggesting they expect about 150,000 people--far more than the 87,000 who attended Glenn Beck's rally in August--and while that's cause for celebration for Attaturk, he does some cruel math: "Apparently you order one port-a-potty per 300 attendees. Which as a potential user strikes me as far too high."
  • The Most Influential Man of 2010 is Jon Stewart, according to a reader survey by the not-so-elite men's lifestyle site AskMen. Stewart beat out Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Last year its readers picked Don Draper as most influential, followed by sprinter Usain Bolt.
  • Dear Jon, Please Cancel pleads Slate's Timothy Noah, who thinks the event will only serve to rally conservatives who resent mocking from East Coasties. "There's still a lot we don't fully understand about the Tea Partiers and the political independents who have lost faith in Obama. But one thing we should all be pretty clear on by now is that they hate, hate, hate anything that smacks of elitism. The spectacle of affluent 18-to-34-year-olds blanketing the Mall to snicker at jokes about wingnut ignoramuses and Bible thumpers will, I fear, have the effect of a red cape waved before a bull," Noah writes. Below, Mark Schmitt of The American Prospect debates the rally with Noah on Bloggingheads.