NEW YORK - Jon Stewart is back as host of "The Daily Show," and the shaggy beard he grew over the summer is gone.
In his return Tuesday, Stewart referenced stories he missed -New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's sexting and Miley Cyrus' sultry MTV dance - then took up the challenge of trying to make comedy and social commentary out of the Syria alleged poison gas attack.
Stewart had been off Comedy Central since June 6, directing and producing a movie. British comedian John Oliver subbed, to strong reviews.
Stewart was welcomed in an extended skit with Oliver and Stephen Colbert, who tried to bring back the old Stewart after Oliver mock-worried that "the Middle East has changed him."
Back at his desk, Stewart beckoned the camera close to whisper to his audience: "I've missed you so much. You don't know what it's like in the real world. Nobody applauds every stupid (expletive) thing that you do."
Stewart played a tape of President Barack Obama urging military action against Syria.
"America taking military action against a Middle East regime," Stewart said. "It's like I never left."
After showing Secretary of State John Kerry referring to "signatures of sarin gas" in the attack, Stewart launched into a mock commercial for "Signature of Sarin" perfume.
"I came back to a dark, dark place," he said.
He played news network tape of various commentators saying that military action against Syria is necessary because the United States would look weak without doing it.
"Oh, right," he said. "We have to bomb Syria because we're in the seventh grade."
He conducted an interview with the head of the United Nation's relief effort in Jordan, taking care of refugees from Syria that have now exceeded two million.