Variety just did an article on the question that every Daily Show viewer is asking: What happens after Bush? They interview two writer/producers for the show: Rory Albanese and Josh Lieb. (NewsRadio fans may remember that Lieb was a prolific writer for that show and became its showrunner in the final season.)
You don’t have to share my view that comedy will be better off without Bush to think that TDS doesn’t need Bush as much as some people seem to think. The show has had good patches and bad patches in the last few years, and it’s had less to do with the amount of material Bush gives them — some of the worst episodes revolve around seemingly can’t-miss issues — than with whether the writers can come up with a funny angle on the way these issues are covered in the media. As the article notes, TDS has people working round the clock compiling clips from the 24-hour cable news world and highlighting clips that could be used on that night’s episode; so much of the show depends on montages of TV talking heads saying stupid things, or Stewart reacting to the stupid things these people say, or the correspondents parodying the stupid things that cable-news gasbags say on a regular basis. So while TDS might be in big trouble if Wolf Blitzer or the Fox n’ Friends or Chris Matthews were replaced by sane people, they shouldn’t be too harmed by Bush. I think they were better in 2008, when there was relatively little Bush-related material, than they were in other years when Bush jokes were more plentiful.