The "sanity" for which Stewart claims to long is the authority of the old mainstream media--their ability to set the boundaries of newsworthiness and respectable debate, claiming to be above politics while actually skewing leftward--though not so far or so intensely leftward as, say, MSNBC ranter Keith Olbermann.
Stewart mimics this authority by insisting that he is nonpartisan and nonideological. In truth, he is no more above politics than were Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather. But he's clever enough to know that a Ratheresque assertion of authority would make him look ridiculous. So instead he makes an appeal to antiauthority, escaping scrutiny by insisting he's just a comedian. "If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to," he smirked at Tucker Carlson on "Crossfire," back in 2004.
The kind of "sanity" for which Stewart claims to be nostalgic is a thing of the past. Its last redoubt is National Public Radio, which by firing Juan Williams has made itself look more like the Radio Moscow of a half century ago than the CBS.Not that anyone should take Stewart seriously, but others do. Also, he did a good number on Olbermann once.