CHRIS WALLACE: Jon Stewart, thanks for appearing again on Fox News Sunday.
JON STEWART: Wasn’t my idea, Chris. Last time, I looked like Kwai Chang Caine being schooled by Master Po. My ratings actually fell off the next week. So the suits at Comedy Central Central told me to take another shot at you.
WALLACE: So, you got your marching orders . . . to do what?
STEWART: Leave you whimpering like Jim Cramer, my friend, make you look like a boob. [from jacket pocket pulls out small beaker, removes cover, tosses contents into Wallace’s face]
WALLACE: [reeling] Whoa, what the hell!
STEWART: Who’s the joke on now, Chris?
WALLACE: [wiping face] Are you crazy?
STEWART: Lighten up, Chris. You need a sense of humor if you want to be taken seriously. Hey, it’s only water, man. [pointing to label on beaker] See, water– H2O. Says here right on the . . . [reads] “HCl–hydrochloric acid.” Oops. Mislabeled. My bad. Note to self: use cream pie or glitter next time.
WALLACE: But why?
STEWART: [reasonably] Try to understand my position, Chris. A sizable chunk of The Daily Show’s core audience hates your guts; they were PO’d when I showed respect and treated you like an equal. That’s not who I am. I humiliate right-wingers in a non-partisan way. I had to return to redeem myself.
WALLACE: Your core audience?
STEWART: Yeah. Fox has the Birchers, the neo facists, LaRouchers, and unborn rights freaks. My core’s a mishmash of animal liberationists, anarchists, human extinctionists, Palinphobes, water cooler thirtysomethings, and fever swampers from The Daily Kos and Democratic Underground.
WALLACE: I reject your . . . .
STEWART: Can we get back to why I’m here? Previously, I called you a “good man.” Let me amend. You might be a good man at home with the wife and kids, but professionally, you’re a Republican shill.
WALLACE: You really believe that?
STEWART: This isn’t about what I believe, Chris; it’s about what I can get my viewers to swallow.
WALLACE: I’ll paraphrase something you stated last time: being a comedian is harder than what you do . . . . I put the truth through a meat grinder, coarse setting, and then I shape it according to my prejudices.
STEWART: I said that? I mean, it’s what I do, but usually I’m less direct, like, “I put material through a process, a comedic process.”
WALLACE: Same thing, really.
STEWART: Well, yeah . . . hey, back to my agenda. I wanna ask you a question.
STEWART: You ever see Roger Ailes hanging around with a Koch brother?
WALLACE: No, but I’ve observed him hanging around with a Pepsi, brother. My turn now.
STEWART: Devil. You got me. All right, shoot.
WALLACE: I’m going to read something to you, and I want your reaction. This is from Hamlet . . . .
STEWART: The little village in the Hamptons?
WALLACE: No, the tragedy by Shakespeare. Act II Scene II. Prince Hamlet is instructing actors he’s hired to perform for the Court. At one point he says,
And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them (excepting Robin Williams); for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too . . . .
STEWART: You calling me a clown?
WALLACE: No, that was Shakespeare.
STEWART: How did Shakespeare know about Robin Williams?
WALLACE: Never mind. You understand the quotation?
STEWART: I think so. Unless you’re a genius like Williams, comedians should stick to their scripts and resist the temptation to mug their way through weak routines in pursuit of cheap laughs from an undiscriminating audience. How does the quote concern me?
WALLACE: You just asked four straight questions. My turn again.
WALLACE: Near the end of our first interview, you said, “I’ve existed in this country forever. There have been people like me who satirize the political process . . . .” Then you mentioned Will Rogers. Do you compare yourself to Will Rogers?
STEWART: I do. We’re both beloved humorists, and we share the same philosophy. Didn’t he say, “I never met a Republican I didn’t dislike”?
WALLACE: Not exactly. Finally, let’s do a gut check of your political instincts. Hypothetical: the ATF Gunwalker scandal leads right to the top. Video emerges of the President examining a Barrett M82 50 caliber rifle before handing it to a Cartel enforcer, saying, “Good hunting.” Obama comes to you for advice on handling the blowback. What do you tell him?
STEWART: Pardon yourself before the situation gets out of hand, Mr. President.
WALLACE: Pardon himself? I guess he could. How would he justify the act?
STEWART: In a Rose Garden statement, he’d say, ”On behalf of all Americans, I accept this pardon because we can’t afford Joe Biden in the Oval Office in these difficult times. And while I’m grateful to the White House, I am deeply disappointed that unanswered questions remain about my involvement in shipping weapons to Mexican drug dealers to promote strict gun control legislation here at home.”
WALLACE: Jon Stewart, Counselor to the President. Thanks for . . . .
STEWART: [holds up whiteboard displaying Wallace’s home address, telephone and social security numbers, and private e-mail] Kos Kids, Undergrounders, give the man some feedback. Don’t ever edit me again, Chris.