Correspondent Rob Riggle, who has combat experience as a major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, spent five days in Iraq last week with "Daily Show" writer Kevin Bleyer and field producer Glenn Clements. They went with a USO sketch comedy tour known as "Operation Feel the Heat" -- armed with small, handheld cameras -- and also brought back video that will be used for "Daily Show" about the troops and their lives in Iraq.It's a credit to Riggle and Jon Stewart that they would come in to entertain the troops at the same time the Iraqi parliament has broken out of town to avoid the August heat.
Although "Daily Show" spends time on topics related to Iraq and often has one of its correspondents appear against a greenscreen that simulates the Middle Eastern country, it's the first time the show has gone the extra step and visited Iraq.
But it's also another hole in Jon Stewart's awshucksiness
when he tries to minimize and belittle his role in the news cycle – he used to deflect praise by pointing out his show came on "after Crank Yankers." This writer stands by what I've written before, that "The Daily Show" is not a substitute for the 'roughage' of hard news. But when you send a correspondent to Iraq, your program may no longer qualify as a mere dessert of empty calories. It's too early to know, since Riggle's contributions will begin airing tonight. But if his reports consist of more than jokes and punchlines, "The Daily Show" may need to be upgraded from 'dessert' to something more like a 'protein shake.'