It wasn’t quite a full-throated attaboy, like the one he’d no doubt deliver with his clown nose off for a Democrat standing up against a Republican administration on something like killing non-combatant American citizens, but it’s not bad.

Stewart was stunned to find that Paul was actually doing a “good old-fashioned actual talkie filibuster” like the kind our grandparents used to see, highlighting how attorney general Eric Holder basically said in a letter to Paul that technically speaking, they would necessarily rule it out. Stewart praised Paul for using the filibuster “the way it’s meant to be used” and said that “drone oversight is one [issue] certainly worth kicking up a fuss for.”

I’m glad to see him give Paul a back-slap, because last week he was bemoaning Washington’s reluctance to talk about important issues. This was a pretty substantive one.

There were a lot of things that were wise about Paul’s filibuster. Undertaking it on a day when a bust of a snowstorm had left the press corps with nothing to cover, managing to stay impressively coherent and smart for 12 hours, and staking out the most unobjectionable possible ground from which to argue— drone strikes on non-combatant American citizens on American soil. On which subject, he simply asked for a clarification from the White House. The entire argument was the epitome of reasonable, calculated to win unlikely allies and make adversaries look silly. And, that it did. Yes, Paul’s filibuster opened up the issue of a more dovish American foreign policy, and challenged the White House to name limits to its power no executive is anxious to concede, but it was largely about this no-brainer resolution, which Democrats would not allow to come up for a vote. Sens. McCain and Graham were objecting to Paul’s broader philosophy today (and this phenomenon), not his actual, narrow argument. His actual argument is quite easy to get behind while remaining rather hawkish. At the very least, you’d hope they’d value how it highlighted the very unreasonable stance of the White House instead of trying to outunreasonable Obama all day. Oh well.

But I must now take a moment to quibble with Stewart on another subject from last night’s show. He thinks Katherine Mangu-Ward (and I) are wrong about universal pre-K. Take it away, Katherine:

I was part of a montage of people referencing the federal government’s own assessment of the efficacy of Head Start (and this earlier version of the same study) the closest thing we have to a pilot program for universal preschool. The findings of the study are pretty freaking bleak:

In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.

Jon Stewart, who loves The Children, theorizes that we skeptics are looking at things backwards: The study demonstrates how much preschool rocks, he says—it’s just that the rest of the public education system sucks so hard that it erases all traces of preschool gains. While that’s not really what the (well-designed, well-respected) study shows, let’s imagine for a second that he’s right.

Which do you think is more likely?:

(a) We make preschool universal and that starts a cascade of awesomeness into the general public school system, or

(b) we graft a universal preschool entitlement onto the existing universal K-12 entitlement, and preschool starts to suck just as much as the rest of the system?

Call me a cynic, but I’m going with (b).

As always, caring about The Children means one must be in favor of handing over too much money to an entity with a proven record of failing to educate children, so that The Children can be universally uneducated, expensively.