Turning the tables on a popular political pundit

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From Vietnam to Watergate, Gulf Wars I and II, September 11 and Afghanistan, there's always been something comforting about ending the day with something to put things into perspective.

For years, it was Johnny Carson's monologue on the Tonight Show, followed up with Jay Leno and the other evening talk show hosts.

We've always leaned more toward sharper political commentary of the type currently popularized by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show.

Stewart has a ready supply of material making fun of Mitt Romney's wealth, but the conservative Daily Caller website is gleefully pointing out that the comedian is on pace out be far richer when he is the presumptive Republican nominee's age.

Stewart "makes more than 300 times the median American salary, owns three luxury homes and sometimes doesn't pay his taxes," the website noted.

After Stewart noted that Romney makes almost $57,000 a day, the Daily Caller cited another website, Celebrity Net Worth, which lists Stewart's family income at $41,000 a day, on a $15 million annual salary and net worth of $80 million.

While Romney has made about $21 million the last two years and is worth about $250 million, if Stewart continues earning at his present rate until he reaches Romney's age, his net worth should be about $320 million, not including possible appreciation of his three mansions, worth a total of about $12.8 million.

Of course, Stewart doesn't really own the mansions, his cat, Stanley and one of his pit bull terriers, Monkey, purchased a two-story Manhattan penthouse for $5.8 million. Monkey and his other pit bull, Shamsky, purchased two adjoining lakefront mansions in 2009 and 2010, for $3.8 million and $3.2 million.

By having his pets form trusts to purchase the real estate, Stewart protects his other assets from lawsuits, reduces estate tax liability and keeps the whole thing quiet, perhaps. Stanley and Monkey also own a $675,000 house where Stewart's brother, Lawrence Leibowtiz, lives.

The Daily Caller found a couple of New York liens or tax warrants, amounting to $476.03 and $3,225 respectively, against Stewart and his wife for 2007 and 2008 taxes.

While it's fun to watch rich people take potshots at each other, it's good to remember that they have the freedom to do so -- that isn't true in the majority of nations.

And, both Romney and Stewart made their fortunes working in a system that allows people with varying combinations of talent, willingness to work, guts or good luck to excel.

Let's hope, whatever the outcome of this fall's election, that system is nourished and encouraged to grow.

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