When CNN decided to name its second Republican Party debate the Tea Party Debate, you just knew things were bound to get weird. But in an evening that featured ten minutes worth of heated discussion about the HPV vaccine as the vultures circled newly-crowned frontrunner Rick Perry, one unsettling incident stood out out as the signature moment of the evening. Televised debates rarely veer into such dramatic -- and unsettling -- territory.
CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer posed a hypothetical question about health care to libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul: say a 30-year-old man gets struck with a catastrophic illness, but has made the choice to not buy healthcare. Who should pay for his care, if he's, say, in a coma?
Harking back to his campaign's themes of personal responsibility and minimal government, Paul started to answer that the man had made a choice to go without healthcare, and it wasn't society's responsibility to foot the bill. "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody" is the basis of a "welfare state," he said, drawing big applause from the crowd.
"But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?" asked Blitzer.
And that's when a significantly smaller portion of the audience started clapping and yelling, "Yeah!" It was hard to tell if it was just a few, very loud people who were rooting for this hypothetical man to die, or a wider portion of the audience, but it was a strange, chilling moment nonetheless. Paul went on to say no, the man should not be left to die, expressing confidence that he would be saved by some combination of volunteerism, churches contributing to the man's care and hospitals treating people for free. But the optics, and audio, of the moment overrode anything else he said.
Check out the video after the jump, and tell us what you think the moment means.
After showing a reel of various Tea Party members in both houses of Congress saying it was "inadequate," and "not something I can support" because "we haven't gotten what we need," Stewart was dumbfounded.
"What are you still angry about," he wondered. "Yes, government still exists. We still have traffic lights. We're sorry." And while the bill's passage will mean an end to the current crisis, we're pretty sure there will still be plenty for politicians to gripe over as we move toward the next one.
So, he tried a more radical approach. "Nuclear bomb somewhere in New York," he said. "The only way we can ... save 8 million people is to raise the tax rate on the top 2 percent of Americans. Do we do it?"
When he finally gave Kremer a chance to answer, she instead suggested the Defense Department "stop creating the second engine for the F-35 and save $3 billion dollars, and then the nuclear bomb won't go off."
Ms. Fey is so out of the political "loop" that she can't recall how to do her famous "Sarah Palin" impression. But she gave it a shot on 'Late Show' (weeknights, 11:35PM ET on CBS). At Dave's request, she did her version of Sarah Palin -- after pointing out that Palin is going to be hard to live with, following the recent Republican success.
Here is Tina doing "Sarah" -- and commenting on the 2010 GOP comeback, partially led by Palin's "mama grizzly" Tea Party candidates: "All her 'mama grizzlies' are winnin' and they're ... goin' ta Washington, and they're gonna flip your pic-a-nik table, Dave! ... You're gonna hafta tie your food to a tree!"
The goal was to share political views in an inoffensive manner. Moderation was the ideal; Stewart showed video clips of media figures (such as Mr. Beck) who supposedly used polarizing speech.
Since the event was hosted by comedians, the whole thing was a joke -- or was it? A bunch of celebs attended, including Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow. But Stewart stopped the music and jokes to deliver this message: "I thought we might have a moment ... for some sincerity. ... I can't control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions."
Lopez wasn't a fan of Ms. O'Donnell, calling her a "anti-masturbation witch." At this point, Maher raised his hand in the air -- and took the credit (or the blame) for Christine. "Well, I'm responsible for [her,]" he said. O'Donnell first gained national prominence on 'Politically Incorrect,' Maher's old show.
Appearing on 'The Colbert Report' (weeknights, 11:30PM ET on COM), he said, "We are actually in the dead center of American politics -- our message of limited government." The studio audience gasped and laughed. "The national debt is 14 trillion dollars. The American people are saying, 'President Obama, you have to come back to the center like President Clinton did.'"
Stephen Colbert countered the argument that the Tea Party is a homogeneous organization. "It seems like a pretty big tent, you know -- with, like, a circus inside."
Christine believes in creationism -- she thinks the earth was made about six thousand years ago. As a result, O'Donnell also believes that evolution is a "myth." On Maher's previous show, 'Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,' she posed a fairly head-scratching question to the host. If evolution is real, she asked, then "why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?" Hmm. That's a good one.
On 'America Live' (weekdays, 1PM ET on Fox News), Megyn Kelly raised the question of whether CBS and 'CSI' were using Bieber to take an "ugly swing at the Tea Party."
He also threatened to keep on predicting weird stories about Ms. O'Donnell -- unless she gave up and made an appearance on his show. (This, by the way, was a parody of host Bill Maher, who has said he will keep showing video clips of Christine until she returns to his show 'Politically Incorrect.')
But sadly, Stephen's last ploy failed ... and failed badly, because O'Donnell wants nothing to do with him. So on the latest 'Colbert Report,' (weeknights, 11:30PM ET on Comedy Central), he resorts to a different tactic.
So Kudus to Greta Van Susteren, who was able to get Bush to talk about the Tea Party during an interview she conducted with Mrs. Bush on 'On the Record With Greta Van Susteren' (weekdays, 9 PM ET on Fox News.)
"I think people are worried about spending, I think that's really the whole thing behind it," was how Bush explained the Tea Party movement.
Then Van Susteren started to present a point about how Tea Partiers are different from how Baby Boomers envision anti-government protesters:
"I sort of have my concept of what a typical protester is, having grown up in the sixties and early seventies," Greta explained. "And (the Tea Party) don't look like ... they sort of look like ..."
"Next door neighbors," Bush interjected, completing Van Susteren's thought. Though she neglected to mention if they look like the kind of next door neighbors you'd want to borrow a cup of sugar from, or the kind of next door neighbors who might motivate you to build a fence in your backyard.
Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist, Mike Barnicle and Harold Ford Jr. all agreed that Palin will take a shot at the White House. Norah O'Donnell then added a twist:
"She will run as part of the Tea Party, not as a part of the Republican Party," O'Donnell predicted.
However, it might be wise to take such predictions with a grain of salt. Since the media -- especially the cable news talkers -- would be the greatest beneficiaries of the madness that would surround a Palin candidacy, talking heads could be engaging in a bit of wishful thinking when they suggest Palin will run.
Beck read aloud, and took issue with the following passge: "Led by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, the so-called Tea Party movement blasted into the national consciousness."
"I'm not leading it," was Beck's blunt assessment of O'Reilly's thesis.
"You're not leading it as far as you signed up, but in the hearts and minds, you're one of the leaders along with Sarah Palin," O'Reilly explained.
"I don't think so," Beck shot back.
O'Reilly then tried to use examples of Beck's impact on Tea Parties to get Beck to own up to his leadership.
It didn't work. In fact, it just encouraged Beck to present a theory that Barack Obama isn't the really the "leader" of the United States, which caused O'Reilly to throw his hands in the air and declare himself too "simple" for the complicated way Beck was twisting the definition of the word "leader."
Jon, Bill, and the rest of the guests discussed the most recent provocation from Newt Gingrich. Apparently, Gingrich said that President Barack Obama was a person who was "outside our comprehension." Newt also said this:
"This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president."
"Maybe it's time to lose ... the Statute of Liberty costume. Maybe no more dressing up like Abe Lincoln, or putting the foam finger on your head ... or the 'Obama is a Socialist' T-shirt," Beck recommended.
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