"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart deployed a bit of stagecraft to level at least one playing field at Saturday night's "Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," his debate with Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. Stewart, standing at only 5-foot-7, pushed a button on his podium to make the square of carpet he was standing on go up and down so he could see eye to eye or even higher with the 6-foot-4 conservative pundit.
And speaking of great heights -- it was this analogy that framed the debate early on. "I've come here tonight to plead to the Mayor of Bulls--t Mountain," Stewart said in his opening remarks. "I know you don't live on Bulls--t Mountain year round, obviously there would be a need for provisions and I believe you have a summer house, but until we can agree on a reality that exists in this country, you and those denizens believe we face a cataclysm, a cataclysm between freedom and socialism."
O'Reilly told reporters that he thought Stewart was "very witty, with the Excrement Mountain thing." "I didn't know what he was going to do, I didn't know about the mountain out of a molehill that he was going to do, thank God, because I would have been on the first train back to New York," O'Reilly said. "And he didn't know that I was going to be brilliant and frame my arguments in a way that he couldn't reply to," he continued.
Stewart and O'Reilly went toe-to-toe for 90 minutes in front of a packed crowd at George Washington University. (In the crowd we spotted O'Reilly's Fox colleague Juan Williams and "Daily Show" correspondent John Oliver). They gave their final thoughts to the press. "The display you saw tonight is why America is America -- robust, creative, no holds barred -- you call it bait, you call it shtick, you call it whatever you want, but you wouldn't see this in many other countries, that's for sure," O'Reilly said, setting up Stewart for a zinger. "I mean, you won't see this kind of height differential in most countries," Stewart said to laughs.