Cable-TV frenemies Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly brought their comedy stylings to the 2012 presidential election Saturday night in a charity event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and it wasn't half bad.
The politically contentious duo dubbed their charity debate, "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," and they live-streamed it to an eager web throng, according to the official Twitter account for the event.
But not all the controversy stemmed from the ideological clash of the cable titans. Many users had trouble accessing the pay-per-view web event, as the Rumble's official twitter spilled: "Due 2 overwhelming demand, our servers have been overloaded. We apologize for any inconvenience and we're working to resolve the issue."
The highly anticipated 90-minute debate found the 5'7" Stewart leveling the playing field with the 6'4" O'Reilly by using a mechanical pedestal to gain a height advantage. Comedy Central's Stewart then proceeded to assail Fox News star O'Reilly as the "Mayor of Bulls--t Mountain," according to USA Today, CNN and others as the two engaged in a spirited, mostly good-natured debate.
And while Jon and Bill expressed their views passionately about everything from health care to who they'd like to see as President (O'Reilly said Clint Eastwood prompting Stewart to pull up an empty chair), the duo mainly stood in their respective liberal and conservative corners and came out swinging.
On the economy, when O'Reilly suggested that "You've got to let the free market run away a little bit. You gotta unleash the machine," Stewart dryly countered, "Because what could go wrong?"
Referencing the Middle East, O'Reilly held up a sign that said "Drones. Yes. Waterboards. No," highlighting the irony of the Obama Administration's policy of allowing drones to strike and kill civilians as "collateral damage" but condemning waterboarding against suspected terrorists as wrong.
Stewart, meanwhile, boiled down our national debt situation thusly: "We are merely weeks from being a failed state or, even worse, Greece. The way to solve it is to kill Big Bird."
There were also some more random questions, such as who would each of them save if America was burning? O'Reilly replied: "Oprah." Whereas Stewart said: "My family," but allowing that, "Oprah's a great answer too."
As with the week's other big debate, this one might be better appreciated in highlight-reel form. Yet despite user complaints about technical glitches, most viewers who got to see some of it seemed to think that Jon and Bill's debate was definitely more entertaining than Obama and Romney's first round.