Yesterday, the country witnessed the dramatic reunion between formerly imprisoned journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling and their families, a reunion orchestrated by former President Bill Clinton, his former Vice President Al Gore, and the White House. Though the White House was working to secure the release of Lee and Ling, Current TV journalists who were sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp by North Korea for illegally entering the country, and had considered envoys like Gore, Bill Richardson, and Senator John Kerry, it turned out that North Korea requested former president Clinton. Lee and Ling, who were being held in a guest house, both told their families in phone calls that North Korea would consider amnesty if "an envoy in the person of President Clinton would agree to come to Pyongyang and seek their release."

Gore, who founded Current TV, relayed the message to Clinton. CNN reports, "During the weekend of July 24-25, Clinton spoke with National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones about his willingness to take on this mission. Clinton ultimately agreed to go on the mission but made it very clear in every communication that this was purely a humanitarian effort." Clinton never spoke to President Obama directly before the trip and Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pointed out, "I want to be sure people don't confuse what Bill did, which was a private humanitarian mission to bring these young women home, with our policy, which continues to be one that gives choices to North Korea. Our policy remains the same."

Of course, Clinton's visit to North Korea, which gave the isolated country a chance to crow about its "humanitarian and peace-loving policy," has raised some questions. A Washington Post editorial states that while it's wonderful Lee and Ling are back, "the administration paid political ransom, both by acceding to Mr. Kim's demand for an American envoy of the former president's stature and by accepting a 'pardon' for the journalists rather than unconditional release." However, the NY Times editorial board finds, "Bill Clinton’s trip will have been well worth the effort if it laid the groundwork for truly productive talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs. Now it is up to President Obama to make it clear to Pyongyang that it is no longer good enough to make easily broken promises." And here's the Daily Show on the Fox News spin:

There's also the full Daily Show segment on the Big Dog's rescue of Lee and Ling after the jump. The Washington Post also has an article about how Clinton's connections played a part in the release, from Dow Chemical providing the plane to fly Clinton from NY to LA and how billionaire Steve Bing's 737 was the plane that went to North Korea. And the Times has an article on Clinton and Gore's appearance together yesterday and a look at their rocky recent history.