For anyone who's not an education geek, the real fun of last night's Daily Show wasn't EdSec Spellings' appearance but rather the show's hilarious coverage of the current immigration debate going on in Congress, which included one segment in which a correspondent says reform opponents are worried about the US becoming a "backup" country for illegal immigrants -- "like Wesleyan," and another correspondent, this one tall white and balding, goes to Mexico and try and get back into the US illegally with the help of his burro "Smuggly." Hilarious, over the top, can't-believe-they-said-that kind of stuff that's usually found on the Colbert Report, not The Daily Show.
Then Spellings came on, wearing a light blue blouse and a matching double-strand necklace
that was either aquamarine or larimar
. Stewart took out some pencils and Lunchables, thanked Spellings for being on the show, and handed her an apple she later smoothly attempted to give back to him for some added nutrition (the Lunchables and CapriSun folks are pissed
Asked about NCLB's alleged curriculum-narrowing, Spellings responded with the usual talking point ("kids need to read to learn social studies"). Asked whether she would want to smite the teachers unions on the head if she were Education God for a day, Spellings smirked and paused -- and then perhaps sensing that she was on the verge of pulling a Rod Paige -- said "kidding!" Asked about the student loan scandal, Spellings said it was complex or something like that and Stewart -- clearly knowing and caring little about the topic -- let it pass.
Perhaps the best moment came at the end, when Stewart asked Spellings an old school SAT analogies question (they don't do those anymore, Daily Show writers) that went something like: Alberto Gonzales is to "I don't recall"
as trees are to....(d) "I don't recall," the answer Spellings chose. Indeed. [UPDATE: You can see video of this last bit here
Over all, it was a harmless exercise, neither particularly humorous nor scathing. Stewart treated Spellings with a combination of kid gloves and that mystified air that most folks display when talking about education (why is it so hard, what is the problem, etc.) Spellings did fine.