Bill O'Reilly made his eighth appearance on "The Daily Show" Wednesday, and had a feisty, funny chat with Jon Stewart during the segment that actually aired on television. It was in an extended Web segment, though, that things got very heated, as the two hosts clashed intensely over taxation in one of the sparkiest arguments in their long history together.
Stewart came right out and told O'Reilly that he wasn't going talk about the book the Fox News host had come on to promote. Instead, he launched into O'Reilly's much-vaunted threat to leave his show if his taxes rose above 50 percent (something Stewart already lampooned him for).
"What threat of that is empty?" he asked. "All of it," O'Reilly joked, before adding that the tax burden could become too "onerous" on him. Stewart said that the idea that O'Reilly and he would walk away if they took home $3 million instead of $3.5 million was "crazy talk." O'Reilly was ready with a quip. "You're not making that much money," he said.
"What is this whole business with the poor, poor rich in this country?" Stewart asked. "Are you ever going to wise up, ever?" O'Reilly responded. His basic point was that he would be fine with higher taxes if the government cut spending and spent the rest of its money more wisely. He brought up the infamous $16 muffins at the Justice Department, a story he was delightfully surprised Stewart hadn't heard about.
The two sparred for some minutes until taking their conversation to the Web, and it was here that things really got interesting. O'Reilly admitted that he was a "Democrat" on the issue of financial regulation, and said he wanted cocaine dealers to pay their fair share in taxes. ("So in your mind the debt crisis is caused by renegade cocaine dealers who are avoiding their social responsibilities?!" Stewart said.)
As O'Reilly started saying again how oppressive taxes have become, Stewart grew increasingly peeved. "Stop it, stop it," he kept saying. He pointed out that income tax has gone down. "Every other tax has gone up!" O'Reilly said. "Stop it!" Stewart responded. "You're not living in reality!"
He read a long list of statistics about the rising inequality in America. O'Reilly said this meant he wanted to "shoot" the rich. "I'm not saying we should shoot them!" Stewart said. "But we shouldn't act like returning to the tax rate of the 90s is class warfare on par with Lenin and Marx!"
O'Reilly then said he wanted a ten percent spending cut "across the board," which made Stewart practically do a spit take. "What kind of idiot-- across the board?!" he said. "You're not even going to look?"