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RAISING HER VOICE Winstead.
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show and former Air America host with Rachel Maddow and Chuck D, brings her sharp political wit to Pawtucket's Mixed Magic Theatre on August 27 and 28, for two shows each night.

Winstead's "My State of the Union" draws material from the headlines. And like Jon Stewart on the seminal show she founded, the comedian considers it her job to ask the follow-up questions — a responsibility, in her view, that the mainstream press has abdicated.

The youngest of five children, the liberal Minnesota native was constantly at odds with her conservative parents. "My mother has two channels on: the Catholic Channel and Fox News," she says.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SEETHE DAILY SHOW IS NOW ONE OF THE MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCES? It brings me great joy and great fear that people say it's the most trusted name in news. The social satirists of the world have become the watchdog of the watchdog; used to be the media was the watchdog. I'm not as freaked out by the professional clowns like Rush [Limbaugh] and [Glenn] Beck as I am by the seemingly more calm people who absolutely don't even know when they're hearing a lie from an elected official — they just kind of let it lay there and there's no follow-up. It's kind of nuts. I think those people can be more frightening than the carnival barkers who get the most headlines.

SPEAKING OF RUSH LIMBAUGH, WAS IT A DISAPPOINTMENT THAT AIR AMERICA NEVER GAINED THE POPULARITY OF SOMEONE LIKE RUSH? I always say that Air America produced a United States Senator (Al Franken) and Rachel Maddow. If you want to talk about what the right has produced from their hyperbole, it's nothing compared to an elected official or somebody you can fact-check like Rachel. The base of the right is energized by Beck and Rush and that emotional 'they're out to get us' thing. I think where the left is better than the right is in using fact-based political satire. And I do think Rush can be funny, but I think Glenn Beck should be hospitalized.

CARE TO COMMENT ON THE HYSTERIA GENERATED BY THE 24/7 NEWS CYCLE? Media to me is now a player, just like a politician or a corporation. It seems there's less and less journalism on cable news and more and more people who are just failed politicians or failed beauty queens. So it seems like the trend is to hire people who failed at what they trained to be and put them on TV for commentary. It's pretty frightening.

THE WIKILEAKS AFFAIR? I'm glad there was a wake-up call. And you can't have it both ways: you can't say on the one hand that it's destroying state secrets and then at the same time, "Oh, this has already been out there." Which is it? I think it reiterated fears Americans had about what's going on in Afghanistan. And the frustrating thing for me is [defense secretary] Robert Gates gets on television and says, "We need more time in Afghanistan, we need to make sure they have a stable government and we need to support Karzai . . . ." Umm . . . exactly when has that ever worked? I've rarely seen a journalist flat-out question something that a regular person sees and hears that doesn't make any sense.

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