Watch it, or read the highlights below. It's funny, sad, true and incredible LIVE television!:
I don't usually like to quote this much text, but if you missed the show, you've got to read some of this that I pulled from the full transcript...
STEWART: I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad. (LAUGHTER)
BEGALA: We have noticed.
STEWART: And I wanted to --- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't --- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: But in its defense...
STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
STEWART: Stop. (LAUGHTER) Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.
STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.
BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.
STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: And I'll tell you. When politicians come on...
CARLSON: It's nice to get them to try and answer the question. And in order to do that, we try and ask them pointed questions. I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently.
STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: No, no, no, here's the point.
STEWART: If that's your goal.
CARLSON: It's not.
STEWART: I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for "Seinfeld." That's a very good show.
STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. I didn't realize that --- and maybe this explains quite a bit...that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. (LAUGHTER) So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous.
STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you...We're here to be nice.
STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's --- the idea is... (APPLAUSE)
BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is --- if the indictment is --- and I have seen you say this --- that...
BEGALA: ... that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.
BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.
BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.
STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.
BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.
CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.
STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.
STEWART: So this is...
CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...
STEWART: So this is theater.
CARLSON: Now, let me just...
STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie...But the thing is that this --- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.
BEGALA: We do, do...
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. (LAUGHTER) What is wrong with you? (APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you --- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.
STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
STEWART: You need to go to one.
STEWART: The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...
CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey. (LAUGHTER)
BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.
STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.
CARLSON: I can tell you love it.
STEWART: It's so --- oh, it's so painful to watch. (LAUGHTER)
STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.
CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?
STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore. (LAUGHTER) I just can't.
CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?
STEWART: If I think they are. (LAUGHTER)
CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.
STEWART: I know. And you won't.
STEWART: But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?
CARLSON: The men's room.
STEWART: Right after that?
STEWART: Spin alley.
STEWART: No, spin alley.
BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?
STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane? (LAUGHTER) Like, it's spin alley. It's --- don't you see, that's the issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show. (LAUGHTER)
Wow. And bravo, Mr. Stewart.