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Friday, 19 March 2010 03:30

Jon Stewart Turns Glenn Beck's Anti-Progressive Ranting Upside-Down to Warn of the Coming FOX Theocracy [MUST SEE VIDEO]

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by Meg White

It's no secret that progressives have had a tough time of late. The internecine squabbling over the flawed healthcare bill is but one manifestation of the recent trouble.

That's part of the reason why Jon Stewart's unconventional intro to The Daily Show Thursday night was so satisfying.

The other part was that he's just damn good at what he does. In the nearly fifteen minutes he devotes to spoofing Glenn Beck's FOX show, he mocks, but he also tries to reason with Beck's persona, and makes it clear that dignity, common sense and intelligence are on his side.

(If you haven't seen it, you've got to watch. I've embedded both the intro and the main portion of his Glenn Beck take-down, respectively, in this story.)

See, Stewart doesn't do impressions, per se. In fact, whenever his show requires he take one on, he fails miserably (though he has gotten better over the years). Yet in this instance, he artfully echoes the mannerisms of his prey, as if channeling Beck.

Stewart has done this sort of thing to Beck before, but this treatment is much more detailed and somehow, more personal. It appears that Beck's recent attacks on progressivism didn't sit well with Stewart and he's ready to strike back.

And if you've ever even watched just clips of Beck, you'll see that Stewart is spot on. At one point he skewers the "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'" thing that Beck often employs:

I'm not saying that believing there should be a minimum standard for how much lead is in our paint might lead to the government having the right to sterilize and kill Jews. I'm not saying that that might be the case. I'm saying that's the case.

At another point he channels Beck's communism/China fear mongering:

It turns out that progressives advocating for government regulations on toxins in water and our children's toys turns us into China! The very country that has been putting toxins in water and our children's toys. It's so ingenious it almost -- It's so ingenious it almost doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

I could pull many more equally scathing quotes out of Stewart's commentary from last night. But the true genius in Stewart's excoriation is when he uses Beck's own argument against him.

In reality, Beck's formula is not all that hard to uncover. It's just too bad it takes a comedian to do so. Beck takes anything he's supposed to brew up hatred for to its extreme to make it appear at its most frightening point. In the case of progressivism, he turns reasonable regulations into something of a Stalinist police state.

So Stewart gives Beck a taste of his own medicine. If you take Beckism (which the FOX host usually defines as a mix of conservatism, libertarianism and Christianity) to its logical end, what do you get? Stewart reasons that playing by Beck's rules means that FOX News' idealized nation would be a theocracy:

If you subscribe to an idea, then you also subscribe to that idea's ideology and to every possible negative consequence that that ideology remotely implies when you carry it to absurd extremes. For instance: Progressives, if you believe in a minimum safety net for the nation's neediest, you believe in total and absolute government control. So, if you believe that faith provides a strong moral tent post for a nation's foundation, that could only lead to totalitarian theocracy.

So, along with aping mannerisms and chalkboard antics, Stewart exposes the speciousness of Beck's "logic." But perhaps more importantly, Stewart points out how insane our political atmosphere has become. Sure, we all have different opinions. But when we're painting each other as total extremists, what kind of conversation can we have? What kind of accomplishments will we be able to count with such divisive madmen running the show?

Stewart lampoons this disastrous state of political discourse. But like the old cliche goes, it's funny because it's true. And sadly few will point it out, because such manufactured conflict feeds into the lazily-constructed narrative of corporate media.

Of course, the reason Stewart's commentary resonates so intensely is because he's telling a truth so rarely heard. But there's no rule that people who aren't comic geniuses can't point out the folly of FOX news turning political discourse into a battlefield.

Here at BuzzFlash, we have a nascent but growing group of people committed to diminishing the power that nut jobs such as Beck have. A few months ago, we launched our Turn Off FOX campaign, and we've already seen the success stories pouring in from readers and activists. You can read more about it and get tools to help diminish the reach of FOX in your corner of the world by checking out the site here.

And, while we don't have a slot at Comedy Central yet, we do have big plans for our own personal Glenn Beck lampoon, known affectionately at Squash Glenn Beck. You can become a friend of Squash Glenn Beck on his Facebook page here. And stayed tuned; Squash Glenn Beck's antics may not be as sophisticated as Jon Stewart's, but with your help he can make a difference in the effort to deny the real Glenn Beck the outsized importance he now enjoys.