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Robert Gates tells Jon Stewart his memoir is 'honest'

Jon StewartBarack ObamaRobert GatesNew Year's DayHillary ClintonThe CW (tv network)

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on Wednesday to discuss his new memoir, "Duty," which has stirred up the Washington chattering class for its criticisms of President Obama. Gates arrived wearing a very visible neck brace, which Stewart couldn't help but reference.

"Apparently you wrote about Chris Christie and there was retribution," Stewart said.

Gates actually suffered a fall on New Year's Day in his home in Washington State and fractured his first vertebrae.

All joking aside, Stewart was curious to find out exactly why so many people have become so fascinated by Gates' book.

"I'm pretty blunt and candid about the mess in [Washington]," Gates said.

"Have you been surprised that the media has glommed onto the more sensationalist aspects?" Stewart asked.

"Not surprised," Gates said. "I've been around too long for that.

"Washington is so polarized that absolutely everything is used to prove one political point or another. So people have cherry-picked individual quotes if it supports their position. ... If you're for Bush, there's stuff; if you're against him, there's material. Same thing with President Obama. But I think it's a very honest account."

Gates book has grabbed headlines by critcizing Obama for failing to support his own surge strategy in Afghanistan and for privately admitting, along with Hillary Rodham Clinton, that they opposed the Iraq surge in 2007 to court Democratic voters.

Stewart moved quickly away from the controversy with the president and onto the current mess with the Veterans Administration. The extended discussion is available online.

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