Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart faced off in a debate Saturday as the two television hosts battled aggressively — but respectfully — on topics ranging from birth control to George W. Bush.
The debate had all the trappings of a high-octane presidential debate, The Associated Press noted. There were pre-rehearsed zingers, over-the-top rhetoric, and a captive audience that stretched nationwide.
Called “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium,” the 90-minute event was peppered with adult language as Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly faced off on several hot-button issues. The event was live-streamed on the internet for $4.95, with half of the proceeds going to charity, though on Twitter many users noted they had problems connecting.
Jon Stewart negated some of O’Reilly’s advantage when he unveiled a mechanical pedestal that helped the height-challenged host of The Daily Show look eye-to-eye with the tall Fox News host.
“I like you much better that way,” O’Reilly said as he looked up to Stewart.
The debaters looked presidential in dark jackets under a sign that read, “Yum, this banner tastes like freedom.”
The tone of the debate remained humorous throughout, like when Jon Stewart defended government involvement in things like health care by arguing that the US has become an entitled nation.
“We are a people that went to another country, saw other people on it and said, ‘Yea, we want that,’ Have you ever seen `Oprah’s favorite things’ episode?” he quipped.
O’Reilly got in on the jokes too. When asked who he wanted to see as president, he deadpanned, “I’d have to say Clint Eastwood.”
“Well why don’t we ask him,” said Stewart as he pulled out an empty chair to mock the actor’s address at the Republican National Convention.
Neither political party was safe, ABC News noted. Though Jon Stewart has a clear left-leaning bend, he still took the chance to poke fun at Democrats.
“I can see why Obama did badly in the debate, the altitude is rough up here,” referring to Al Gore’s justification as to why Barack Obama performed poorly in this week’s presidential debate in Denver, where the altitude is 5,280 feet above sea level.
The relationship between Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly stretches back more than a decade. Since 2001 they have been appearing on each other’s shows, engaging in debates that always remain respectful.