Smartest People of 2010
1, Jon Stewart
Opinionated, funny—and, according to our panel of 20-plus MacArthur geniuses, the smartest person of 2010. Jon Stewart, conventional wisdom went, peaked after Barack Obama was elected (his comic foil had left office). Yet two years later, the brains behind The Daily Show remains speedier and more biting than the media monoliths and political establishment he regularly skewers. This year, Stewart went further. He turned his logic-rooted, hypocrisy-bashing comedy into action, with his Stephen Colbert co-hosted Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, which drew roughly 200,000 people to the National Mall in late October. Lawmakers later called him out as instrumental in helping pass health-care funding for 9/11 first responders. "Jon Stewart really took the push for the 9/11 bill into overdrive by doing two separate nights' worth of coverage last week, and drawing attention to this that the networks had not," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said. And while still a liberal darling, Stewart flexed his independent muscles, increasingly going after Obama, and even opening a rational dialogue with Bill O'Reilly.