It sounds absurd to call comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert the most powerful pundits in America — at least, until you ask "Who else?"
An even easier label is "Most Powerful Comedians in America." Who else could give what is, essentially, a spoof, a cast of hundreds of thousands?
After Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the national mall, fans of Stewart's Daily Show and Colbert's Colbert Report wanted Stewart and Colbert to put on a rally of their own.
And so they will. Tomorrow, from noon to 3 pm EST, Stewart will gather his followers in Washington D.C. for a "Rally to Restore Sanity." Enough with the rallies for the crazies, the extremists, and the screamers, Stewart said.
Here's a rally for the rest of us, those who believe their opponents are, in all likelihood, not Hitler. Who are unwilling to boil down foreign policy to a 1:1 blood-oil conversion. Who believe words like "socialist," "communist," or "antichrist" should be reserved for actual socialists, communists, or false prophets claiming the mantle of Christ and ushering in seven years of Armageddon.
It's a cry, not for change or for revolution, but for being decent and reasonable.
Colbert, meanwhile, goes for a more straightforward spoof, with his March to Keep Fear Alive, facetiously "reminding" America that fear is the stuff that keeps our nation strong.
I suspect the attendance at the rallies will rival — probably even surpass — Beck's rally.
On the surface, at least, it seems that the apparent goals are almost contradictory. Stewart’s team wants to restore dignity and nuance to the public debate; Colbert wants to mock the conservative pundits as unhinged fearmongerers.
Some Democrats nationally have edged away, worrying that rally that might seem to be making fun of tea partiers.
The national rally, however, has intentionally aimed for being non-partisan — or "anti-partisan."
But not in Spokane. Spokane's "Restoring Sanity" rally, starting at noon at Riverfront Park, is hosted by the Spokane County Democrats.
Stewart and Colbert will not be attending the Spokane rally, obviously. But the Spokane County Democrats did score a comedic coup of their own: Paula Poundstone, who will be performing at the Bing Crosby Theatre that night, will perform at the rally. Poundstone, often a guest on NPR's “Wait, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me...” is no stranger to political humor.
Other speakers include Democratic politicians Chris Marr and Andy Billig, business owners John Waite and Nima Motahari, pastor Paul Rodkey, and comics Will Gillman, Jim Green and Marten Hoyle.
Over 300 have RSVPed "attending" on Facebook, though the rally’s organizer, Spokane County Democrats chair Amy Biviano, expects the rain to depress turnout.
Spokane's rally is happening after the national rally has already been completed (it's a timezone thing) but the DC rally can be watched at Isabella’s from 9 am to noon.
So if the national rally is not officially affiliated with a party, why is Spokane's?
"We feel that [Stewart's message] is absolutely indicative of our approach to politics. It’s not our party doing the screaming," Biviano says, "We want to have reasonable discussion." (She says the anti-war protests during George W. Bush's presidency never reached the levels of disrespect we’re seeing today.)
And hey, the Republican Party was invited, she says.
But Curt Fackler, spokeperson for the Spokane County GOP, says they have other plans. Dino Rossi is holding a last-minute rally at the Quality Inn at 1:30 pm tomorrow.
Biviano doesn't think they'd be interested in it anyway.
"Anybody who watches Jon Stewart would say, 'I don’t think a conservative would be a huge fan of Jon Stewart'." Biviano says. "Maybe Colbert."