Known for his clever and witty remarks on the state of current affairs, Stewart frequently exchanged jabs with politicians and news personalities alike, holding them accountable in ways that professional reporters didn’t. For the younger and more politically disenchanted generation, he became the "most trusted newscaster in America."
And that’s exactly why Mariel Waters started a petition to get the former Daily Show host to moderate one of the presidential debates ahead of the 2016 general election.
"Over the last 16 years, Jon Stewart has played an influential and iconic role in covering US politics and media," the Change.org petition said. "We believe he should continue that tradition as a moderator at one of the 2016 Presidential debates."
Not surprisingly, the petition was quick to gain momentum. In just two weeks, it amassed over 150,000 signatures, accumulating 1200% more since Wednesday, according to the website. The goal is to reach 200,000 signatures in total.
Even Democratic presidential hopeful, Martin O’Malley, signed his name, expressing his eagerness to participate in a debate moderated by Stewart.
— Martin O'Malley (@MartinOMalley) August 20, 2015
"A Jon Stewart-moderated debate would be more informative than the Trump-dominated GOP sideshow that’s going unanswered, so he’s game," O’Malley’s spokesman told the Washington Post.
The Change.org petition has also inspired a #WeWantJon hashtag on Twitter, with many taking to the social media platform to encourage others to sign.
— Rob Emslie (@robemslie) August 20, 2015
— Jordan Olsen (@jordan_olsen26) August 20, 2015
Others noted Stewart would be a welcome change to the debates.
— RedwoodGirl (@RedwoodGirl) August 20, 2015
— April Rae Mallord (@AprilRaeMallord) August 21, 2015
Though Stewart isn’t exactly a journalist – he has distanced himself from the classification – the satirist has played such an influential role in political discourse that even his critics would be hard-pressed to negate it.
"Jon Stewart is more than qualified to tackle the moderating job," the petition noted. "Mr. Stewart has interviewed 15 heads of state, 22 members of the United States Cabinet, 32 members of the United States Senate, 7 members of the United States House of Representatives, and a score of other political leaders from this country and around the world while establishing himself as the most trusted person in (satirical) news."
Add to that the fact that Stewart has also received two Peabody awards for the Daily Show’s coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and the idea of the late-night show funnyman as a serious presidential debate moderator becomes even more appealing.
Meanwhile, whether or not petition voters will get to see him on the debate table, Jon Stewart will be back in the spotlight on Sunday night to host the WWE’s SummerSlam. It may not be the role the Change.org petition had in mind for him, but at least it’ll give his more ardent fans hope that the comedian isn’t going anywhere just yet.