Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert's competing/companion March to Keep Fear Alive was refreshingly free of the usual liberal-vs.-conservative rhetoric and instead pointed a finger at a different adversary: the country's mass media.
"We live now in hard times, not end times," The Daily Show host told the crowd during his "keynote address" Saturday at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Stewart said the rally was not "to suggest that times are not difficult and we have nothing to fear — they are, and we do." However, Stewart said, the media and the 24-hour news cycle has gone too far in making everything a threat, comparing the press to our immune system. "If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker," he said. "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
With Stephen Colbert (who arrived after being rescued from his "fear bunker" much the way the Chilean miners were) acting as the advocate for fear, the two Comedy Central hosts play-acted the battle of sanity vs. fear in several scenarios.
In one, Stewart brought Yusuf (the former Cat Stevens) to perform "Peace Train." In turn, Colbert interrupted to introduce Ozzy Osbourne, who sang a dueling version of "Crazy Train." (In the end, the O'Jays rendition of "Love Train" trumped both.)
Later on, Stewart illustrated that, contrary to popular belief, not all Muslims and robots should be feared, by welcoming retired NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and R2-D2, respectively, to the stage.
Other special guests included MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who conducted a series of experiments on the 100,000-strong crowd, and Law & Order vet Sam Waterston ("the most reasonable-seeming man in America," according to Stewart), who read the "greatest poem ever written" — a piece by Colbert about, what else, fear.
Other musical guests included The Roots, John Legend, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy and Tony Bennett, all of whom performed the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There" to close out the three-hour, commercial-free broadcast.
Did you watch? What were your favorite moments from the rally?