The left and the right on CNN's "Crossfire" finally have found something they can come together on.
Both sides hate "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart.
Round 2 of "Crossfire" vs. Jon Stewart:
On Friday, you'll recall, the Comedy Central late-night star appeared on CNN's afternoon screamfest, ostensibly to promote "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction."
Instead, to the surprise of hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, Stewart blasted the show and the two men personally, calling them "partisan hacks" who "have a responsibility to the public discourse" but "fail miserably."
Carlson, who also has a public policy show on PBS, responded by calling Stewart the personal "butt boy" of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. (Note to self: Call PBS chief Pat Mitchell to chat.)
Stewart, not to be outdone, called Carlson a part of the anatomy unique to men.
By yesterday afternoon, both sides had had three days to figure out how to spin it, and damage control began in earnest.
At the end of "Crossfire," Robert Novak on the right and James Carville on the left said they'd received loads of comments from viewers about the Friday telecast. They read two of the messages.
The first, from Toronto, said Stewart's appearance confirmed his suspicions: "Jon Stewart is the most overrated, overhyped comedian in the world today."
The second viewer comment -- because "Crossfire" is about presenting both sides of an issue -- thanked "Crossfire" for "having the guts" to let someone like Stewart speak.
After that, Novak did what the show is supposed to do: present opposing points of view.
"Let me say something about Jon Stewart. I don't think he's funny. And I know he's uninformed," Novak said, peering meaningfully at the audience.
"I think he's funny," said Carville. "I just think he's a pompous ass."
He continued: "Attacking Ted Koppel -- why would you want to attack somebody that's been in this business this long?"
He was referring to a squabble that broke out when Koppel interviewed Stewart on "Nightline" during the Democratic National Convention, and said how uncomfortable he was that so many people got their news from Stewart's show, as if anybody cared. The interview ended when Koppel cut Stewart off, saying he was through with him. Koppel appeared at a later date on "The Daily Show" and both men insisted it was much ado about nothing and that they were really quite chummy.
Interesting that Carville chose to discuss that bit of ancient history, instead of, say, Stewart's long-standing hatred of Novak.
Back in September, Stewart awarded Novak the "Congressional Medal of Douche Bag" for having first published the name of a CIA operative.
Getting back to "Crossfire": In response to Carville's sort of rhetorical question, Novak fell back on "because he's ill-informed," while casting a meaningful look. He never did explain what he was talking about.
Meanwhile, Stewart used the Martin Lawrence defense when telling his adoring audience why he did what he did on "Crossfire."
"Let's face it, I was dehydrated," he said, adding, "I had always in the past mentioned to friends and people I meet on the street that I think the show blows. I thought it was only the right thing to do to go say it to them personally on their program.
"Here's the thing about confronting someone on their show. They're there.
But, in fairness, Stewart admitted that the "Crossfire" gang had come back at him pretty strong.
"They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, 'I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.' "