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Jon Stewart's key Daily Show moments

Daily Show presenter Jon Stewart Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jon Stewart said it had "been an absolute privilege" to present The Daily Show

The Daily Show, whose host Jon Stewart is stepping down after 16 years at the helm, is a comedy programme, yet regular viewers know that laughs are just one part of it.

For many Americans, The Daily Show has become an alternative way of learning about the world.

And Stewart - jabbing his pen, wrong-footing interviewees, delivering impassioned monologues, and yes, cracking a gag or two - has been its biggest draw.

Here are some of his highlights.

Indecision 2000

Image copyright Comedy Central
Image caption Jon Stewart made a name for himself spoofing the 2000 US presidential election

At the turn of the century when Jon Stewart, newly-installed host, dubbed his show's US presidential election coverage "Indecision 2000" few knew how apt the name would become.

George W Bush's campaign against then-Vice President Al Gore would last far beyond election day as workers in Florida struggled through recounts and the Supreme Court eventually got involved.

Surrounded by talent like Lewis Black, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, Stewart lampooned politicians as well as reporters for taking themselves too seriously.

"After 19 days, and endless court battles, the Florida vote has been certified, giving the state - and presidency - to George W Bush, by a total of 537 votes," he said in one skit.

"Wow. That's a landslide. If you are running for student council treasurer."

9/11

Image copyright AFP
Image caption "The view from my apartment was the World Trade Centre," said Stewart. "Now it's gone."

In his first broadcast after the 9/11 attacks, Stewart delivered a tearful, highly personal attempt to make sense of the worst terror attacks in US history.

He opened with an apology for "another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host and television is nothing if not redundant".

"They said to get back to work. And there were no jobs available for a man in the foetal position under his desk crying," he said, drawing one of the few laughs.

He concluded by saying: "The view from my apartment was the World Trade Centre. Now it's gone."

"But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."

Sitting target

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Image caption Dick Cheney faced popular ridicule after the incident

In 2006, Stewart was given a gift in the form of a bizarre incident where then US Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a companion, Harry Whittington, while on a quail hunt.

Stewart noted that Whittington was the first person to be shot by a US vice president since Alexander Hamilton was shot by Aaron Burr in 1804.

"Hamilton [was] of course shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honour, integrity and political manoeuvring. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird."

Vs Cramer

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Image caption Financial pundit Jim Cramer faced an angry Jon Stewart at the height of the 2009 financial crisis

The financial crisis was at its peak in 2009. Markets slumped, with commentators comparing the crash to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

For several episodes, Stewart criticised business network CNBC for failing to predict the collapse of major US financial institutions or question their soundness, culminating in an angry exchange with one of the network's bullish hosts, Jim Cramer.

"You knew what the banks were doing, and yet you were touting it for months and months. The entire network was," Stewart said.

"And so now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that no-one could have seen coming, is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."

Presidential visit

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Image caption Jon Stewart devoted an entire episode in 2010 to an interview with President Barack Obama

Barack Obama has made several appearances on the show, for the first time as a youthful, grinning state senator for Illinois in 2005.

"The only person more over-hyped than me is you," Obama quipped.

And in a sign of the show's, and its guest's, rise to prominence, he appeared again in 2010 as the first US president to be a guest of The Daily Show.

Stewart needled the president over how the optimism of his campaign had become mired in the reality of day-to-day politics, asking if his campaign slogan should have been "yes we can, given certain conditions".

Meeting Malala

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Image caption There was mutual respect when Malala Yousafzai met Jon Stewart

Welcoming her into the studio to broad applause, Stewart said it was an honour to meet teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by a member of the Taliban in Pakistan.

She told Stewart that if she were to meet the man who shot her, she would tell him how important education is, and that she wants education for his children as well.

Stewart was touched: "I know your father is back stage, and he is very proud of you, but would he be mad if I adopted you? Because you sure are swell."

Charlie Hebdo

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jon Stewart said the Charlie Hebdo attacks were a reminder that his targets were not the real enemy

Years on from 9/11, Stewart again had to respond to a horrific act of violence, in this case one that attacked the freedom of satirists themselves.

"[It is a] stark reminder that for the most part, the legislators and journalists and institutions we jab and ridicule are not in any way the enemy," he said.

"For however frustrating or outraged the back-forth becomes, it's still a back-and-forth conversation among those on, let's call it 'Team Civilization'."

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