Jon Stewart Retirement Trumps the Donald

9/16/2015 8:30 AM PDT

Jon Stewart -- Retirement Trumps Covering the Donald (VIDEO)

EXCLUSIVE

You'd think Jon Stewart would be licking his chops to get in on election season ... to sound off about Donald Trump and the Republican candidates, but he tells us he's got a wayyy better gig now.

We got the ex-'Daily Show' host Wednesday morning in D.C. -- he's there supporting a bill for 9/11 first responders -- and wondered if he wishes he'd stuck around through Nov. 2016.

Check out Stewart's awesome answer ... it proves some people really can walk away.

Side note: Props to Jon on the sweet retirement beard.