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Stewart to O'Reilly, in Part 3: "Thank you guys for ratcheting up the fear . . . ."

Reported by Julie - February 4, 2010 -

If you were hoping to see somebody spill blood on this, Part 3, of the Jon Stewart-Bill O'Reilly face-off (2/4/10), you'll be gravely disappointed . . . more like water with a little red food coloring. Part 3 was part O'Reilly gently grilling Stewart on current-day issues, and part Stewart being Stewart, and part O'Reilly gingerly avoiding anything overly contentious. As I posted last night, O'Reilly's pretty good at deference when it comes to someone who has the ability to verbally -- and publicly -- kick his ass. With video.

O'Reilly kicked the segment off with a little role-playing: He's running for President ("I think that's a bad idea," quipped Stewart) and he wants Jon Stewart to be his Vice-President ("I think that's a bad idea too . . . I've got pictures of me from college, that I have in a shoebox, that preclude me from working at the post office . . . .")

O'Reilly started off the "vetting" of Stewart by oh-so-gently grilling him on various issues of the day, beginning with global warming. A short discussion, nothing earth-shattering, then O'Reilly moved on to the subject of Iran and nuclear weapons.

"Iran's building nuclear weapons over there . . . they might give them to some guy named Ahmed who might take 'em to Cleveland and blow everything up," O'Reilly suggested.

Stewart, relaxed and fearless, replied, deadpan, "Well, doesn't Pakistan have nuclear weapons . . . couldn't they give it to someone? . . . Doesn't Russia have nuclear weapons, couldn't they give it to someone?"

"Again," Stewart added, "Thank you guys for ratcheting up the fear on this . . . there's a lot of things to be afraid of in the world."

"You're a Jewish guy . . . ." O'Reilly noted.

"Who told him . . . what gave it away, was it my Happy Hanukkah when I walked in? There is a war on Hanukkah in this country, Mister," Stewart said, clearly mocking Fox' "War on Christmas" theme.

O'Reilly said that we can stop Iran from having nuclear weapons, but Stewart stated that "our strategy for battling terrorism can't be that we overthrow governments and then make the U.S. military commit 150,000 troops to those lands until they can somehow stabilize the governments long enough so that you can prevent ten people from plotting destruction in a basement."

Stewart said he believes that "Iran . . . has a self-preservationist streak," and made an observation about the "geniuses we're up against. . . Richard Reid was the airplane bomber . . . explosives in his shoe . . . the plan they came up with in eight years . . . moved from the guy's shoes up to his underwear, that's who we're up against."

Mild as a windless day in the spring, O'Reilly moved on to talk about the trial of terrorist suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "in your living room," noting that Stewart lives in NYC.

Stewart replied, "I'd like him tried, honestly, in the pit . . . and . . . executed at half-time of the Super Bowl and then reanimated so we can do it every year."

O'Reilly noted the "600 million, 700 million gonna cost the city," to which Stewart remarked, "I'm glad to see that you're suddenly very concerned about cost . . . and I think maybe when the Iraq war was coming up you might have mentioned it, woulda been a big help."

O'Reilly defended himself by claiming he had "said many times on this show that was not a good thing to do" and claimed, to Stewart's obvious skepticism, that he had apologized when they had not found WMDs: "That whole Iraq thing did not go well." (O'Reilly's apology, in fact, is true.)

Continuing the discussion of the trial of KSM, Stewart said he's not against military tribunals, and O'Reilly accused Stewart of waffling, saying, "I need a strong V.P."

"I'm not running with you . . . ," Stewart smirked emphatically. "I'm not gonna be your V.P. 'cause I know what that's gonna be. I get one job, and that's to light the White House menorah -- not interested."

When O'Reilly said that KSM should be tried in a military tribunal, Stewart admitted that there are "valid concerns" about trying KSM in civilian court, but one of the valid concerns "isn't that it makes us a terrorist target and emboldens the enemy . . . we're already a terrorist target." Think it's time for a little flashback -- to 2006, when O’Reilly, on his show, talked about the sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui, "who was tried in civilian court and handed several consecutive life terms for his role in the September 11 terrorist attacks . . . O’Reilly explained that 'by not executing Moussaoui, the U.S.A. shows the world we are a nation of laws, a nation that puts power in the hands of regular folks.'"

Stewart told O'Reilly that he believes we should close Gitmo because it's "limbo . . . it doesn't fit with the American system of justice . . . It's better to have them go through a system . . . show the world that the American judicial system has the integrity to withstand even the most vile creatures." (Despite the fact that on a previous show, when talking about the KSM trial, O'Reilly defiantly said he didn't care about the Constitution, he remained strangely silent this time.)

When O'Reilly asked if that included the "Crips" and the "Bloods" out in the yard confronting these guys, Stewart said, "Absolutely."

Talk of WMDs and KSM, and even Crips and Bloods, didn't get this party started -- O'Reilly moved on to the topic of Sarah Palin.

"You've been a little tough on Sarah Palin . . . ," O'Reilly said mildly, as Stewart sat casually, hand over his lip.

"No, I don't think so."

"You haven't been mocking her?" O'Reilly asked.

"Oh, I mock her."

"What other woman in politics have you mocked to the extent that you've mocked Sarah Palin?" O'Reilly pressed.

Stewart mumbled, "Hillary Clinton . . . Hillary's been around longer, but give Sarah time, I'll get there, I'll catch up . . . I'm not crazy about the whole Real America vibe I get from her . . . I don't like the whole, like, there's a Real America and then there's the coastal America."

"I don't say that where you live is the factor in deciding who you are," Stewart concluded.

And that's a wrap. All I can say is, I don't know who this mild-mannered, respectful O'Reilly is, but I expect to see the real O'Reilly back at 7:00 tomorrow night, when he has a guest on he has a better chance of cowing.