Of course it was fun to watch the meltdown smackdown where The Daily Show‘s

Jon Stewart

grilled CNBC corporate cheerleader

Jim Cramer

for pitching “snake oil as vitamin tonic.” Stewart was doing what journalists are supposed to do, calling out a “business news” huckster with the admonition: “Listen, you knew what the banks were doing and yet were touting it for months and months–the entire network was. So now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming was disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.”

You could almost hear the collective cry of “Yes! Finally!” ACORN hailed Stewart for “taking on the banks, speculators and financial commentators who caused this economic crisis” and especially for saying it was “insane” to blame mortgage holders.

Adam Green


Stephanie Taylor

and the

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

launched a campaign to “Fix CNBC!” with a call to hire hosts who actually know something about economics.

But let’s not stop with CNBC. What was so refreshing about Stewart’s interview was the unrelenting, unapologetic demand for personal and institutional accountability for the commentators who threw gasoline on the fire. But what about the guys who started the fire? During the Great Depression, Congress called bankers and brokers–including

J.P. Morgan

himself–before investigative committees and forced them to come clean. That’s how legislators figured out how to regulate the speculators and protect working Americans from the robber barons’ greed seventy-five years ago.

Vermont Senator

Bernie Sanders

is pushing for a new accountability moment, proposing “a major investigation into what caused the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” Specifically, Sanders is asking Senate Majority Leader

Harry Reid

to expand the Congressional TARP bailout review to include investigating how the financial crisis started in the first place. Maybe they should appoint Stewart as special counsel.   JOHN NICHOLS


Cost of war:

$656 billion

in funds allocated (National Priorities Project).

Documented civilian deaths: between





Estimated Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion:


(, based on data from Iraq Body Count and a 2006 Lancet study).

Iraqi civilians killed in February 2009:


(including 11 children).

US casualties:




wounded in action.

US troops deployed to Iraq since 2003:


; deployed more than once:


; deployed three or more times:



US soldiers who committed suicide in January 2009: as many as


, the highest monthly total since the Army started keeping those stats in 1980.

Iraqi unemployment rate:

18 percent

; for men ages 15-29:

28 percent


Iraqi female labor force participation:

17 percent


Journalists killed in Iraq:



Estimated number of Iraqis displaced since 2003:

5 million

, nearly

20 percent

of the total population.

Iraqi prison population:


in US custody;


in Iraqi custody.

Average hours of electricity per day in Iraq:




Ohio Congresswoman

Marcy Kaptur

, a fierce critic of Wall Street, has joined the House Populist Caucus. So, too, has Texas Congressman

Lloyd Doggett

, a Budget Committee member who says taxpayers deserve “more accountability, more transparency and a better return on their substantial investment” from bailed-out banks. Kaptur and Doggett vociferously opposed last fall’s bailout bill.    JOHN NICHOLS


Ann Epstein

, The Nation‘s business manager for almost twenty years at 72 Fifth Avenue, died on March 6. Ann was known for her stern but motherly demeanor, her ability to pinch a penny till Lincoln cried for mercy (she doled out blue pencils to the copy department one at a time), her prizewinning needlepoint and her cheesecake, which by popular demand graced many a Nation party.