Daily Show' skewers Ohio pols

By T.C. Brown
Plain Dealer Bureau

The event that is "The Daily Show" revved engines Monday night, and that train ripped along the track as host Jon Stewart and his merry band of satirical correspondents plowed through more than one sacred cow in Ohio.
 For only the fifth time in the show's decade-long history, Stewart and a crew of 85 hit the road, landing in Ohio's capital for four nights of shows billed as "Battlefield Ohio: The Daily Show's Midwest Midterm Midtacular."

The inaugural broadcast drew 275 antsy-with-excitement, starry-eyed fans to the Roy Bowen Theatre at Ohio State University, where they had to hang around for an hour before being ushered onto the set.

Stewart traveled to this battleground state to do what he does best: puncture the pomposity of the political process with wry wit. Perhaps the challenge was larger than expected, as he revealed just before introducing Cavaliers star LeBron James as Monday's guest.   "We wanted to get Ohio politicians. We pretty much asked all of them," Stewart told the audience. "Apparently many of them plan to leave office. Or go to prison."

Gov. Bob Taft, gubernatorial candidates Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell and Ohio's two U.S. senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, all said "no thanks" to invites to appear.

But Stewart drew loud hoots when he wondered aloud how far Blackwell must be down in the fourth-quarter polls to throw a "Hail NMBLA" pass in his attempt to connect Strickland to the association that promotes sex between adult men and boys.

The politicians' dodge did nothing to dampen the  wild enthusiasm of an audience that ranged in age from late teens to card-toting members of AARP, further amped before Stewart appeared by blaring rock music and the comedy and cheerleading of the aptly named Paul Mercurio, a former writer for the show.