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Left Hooks and Right Jabs: Stewart Tangles With Carlson

"Why not ask him a real question instead of just sucking up to him?" Carlson wanted to know, but not really.

"You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility," Stewart shot back. "I didn't realize -- and maybe this explains quite a bit -- that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. . . . If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows."

Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, left, and CNN's Tucker Carlson, getting cross with each other on "Crossfire," which Carlson hosts with Paul Begala.

"We're here to love you, not confront you," Carlson said, momentarily forgetting that viewers had seen the graphic listing the lame questions for Kerry that had been prepared for Stewart's visit.

"We're here to be nice," Carlson continued, disingenuously.

"I'm not. I'm here to confront you," Stewart said, "because we need help from the media, and they're hurting us."

Begala, the Peacekeeper, tried to calm them down, noting that "Crossfire" is a debate show.

Calling "Crossfire" a debate show is "like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition," Stewart said. "You're doing theater, when you should be doing debate. . . . What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery."

"You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?" Carlson shouted.

"Absolutely," Stewart said calmly. You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you!"

"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," Carlson said. "Come on! It's embarrassing!"

Believe it or not, things went downhill from there.

"We did promise naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices," Begala finally interjected, trying desperately to break up the fight. It was a reference to Stewart's book "America: The Book," which has such pictures in it, and which was supposed to have been the reason Stewart appeared on "Crossfire."

After a commercial break, Carlson said, "We're talking to Jon Stewart, who was just lecturing us on our moral inferiority." He then asked Stewart what he thought of "the Bill O'Reilly vibrator story."

"I'm sorry. I don't," Stewart snapped. "Where's your moral outrage on this?"

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