During Costas's appearance on the Comedy Central show, Stewart wondered what it was like to be at the epicenter of the gun control argument.
Costas set off a firestorm during his halftime slot of an NBC Sunday football broadcast in early December when he discussed the previous day's suicide of Jovan Belcher; the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot himself Dec. 1 after killing the mother of his baby daughter, using his legally registered gun.
Among other comments last month, Costas read from a column by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock: "If Jovan Belcher didn't
possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." Much hoo-ha followed, in which some industry navel-lint
pickers debated whether NBC should sack Costas.
Costas told Stewart he’d been let off the hook when “Newtown happened.” The slaughter of 20 elementary school children, and several adults, “as horribly tragic as that was, if it did redirect the debate and people are now at least somewhat more willing to think about this rationally and compassionately…then that is a good thing.”
While we contemplated how many ways Costas could have put that less chillingly, Costas continued his blah, blah, blah.
“How do we change the culture then?” Stewart asked earnestly. “Is it that guns look cool? Is it real self protection? Is it real Second Amendment rights, or the idea, ‘I’ve seen enough movies to know if I go in somewhere and do this?” Stewart asked, making a gun-in-hand
This is a slippery slope for Stewart, given that any discussion of gun culture invariably touches on violent movies and videogames and that his show is one of advertisers' fave places to promote those products because he attracts a high concentration of young male viewers.
And, sure enough, Costas went there:
"Right now, everywhere you look there is a commercial for a . . . Sly Stallone movie called 'Bullet to the Head,' " Costas responded.
This was awkward because, immediately before Costas came on stage to chat with Stewart, "The Daily Show" ran a "Bullet to the Head" ad.
"Bullet to the Head," as its title suggests, stars Stallone as a hitman who teams with a young Washington detective after they're brought together by two vicious murders; together they exact Revenge.
It was the show's second ad break. The first one featured a commercial for another guys-with-big-guns flick: "A Good Day to Die Hard," in which Bruce Willis reprises his John McClane role - this time traveling to Russia to get his son out of the slammer, only to become caught up in a terrorist plot.
(The third and final ad break featured a plug for yet another guys-with-big-guns flick, "Snitch." Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a dad who cuts a deal with the U.S. attorney's office to infiltrate a drug cartel after his son is wrongfully arrested for distributing drugs and sentenced to 10 years in the hoosegow - though we had no way of knowing that while Costas was prattling away about "Bullet to the Head.")
Anyway, the reference to a media landscape littered with "Bullet to the Head" ads seemed to make Stewart uncomfortable. Or maybe we're giving him too much credit.
"That's a working title," Stewart began to joke/soft-shoe, adding: "Once you've thrown Mama from the train, what difference does it make."
Costas chuckled. "There are many aspects to this," he acknowledged.
The moment was gone.