(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – Tens of thousands of Comedy Central fans took to the National Mall
on Saturday in search of some peace, love and understanding under the guidance
of Daily Show host Jon Stewart.
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At least two people found
Surrounded by masses holding placards saying, “The end is not for a
while” and “Everyone has a right to their own opinion but not their own
spelling,” Sheffy Gordon, a 34-year-old born in Haifa, whipped out his own sign:
“Aimee will you marry me?” After his girlfriend accepted the proffered ring, he
attached an addendum declaring, “She said yes” to applause and cheers from the
crowd packed around them.
“We’re big Daily Show fans and our first date
was here for the Obama inauguration,” he explained of the choice to pop the
question at the rally.
Plus, he added, “I wanted to do it when we were
surrounded by friends so she couldn’t say no.”
It wasn’t just friends he
found around him. The crowd packed the mall so tightly it was even hard to see
the jumbotrons projecting the action on the stage.
Stewart kept the tone
light and positive, even at his most serious when he concluded by rejecting the
image of polarization among the American public depicted by the
“We work together to get things done every day,” he told the
crowd, and then referencing the looming Capitol behind him continued, “The only
place we don’t is here or on cable TV.”
Several Democratic and
left-of-center groups used the rally, which comes just three days before
Tuesday’s midterm elections, to bus in supporters and try to energize a
constituency seen as less enthusiastic about the upcoming vote than
But Stewart, who is on the left on most issues, steered
clear of partisan politics. He did, however, use humor to touch on politically
sensitive topics with the message of tolerance and shared values between diverse
He lampooned those who would call adherents of the politically
conservative Tea Party “racist” – as well as those who would use the label
against Rick Sanchez, the CNN host who was fired after telling a radio show that
Jon Stewart and other Jews run the media.
“It’s an insult not only to
those people, but the racists themselves,” Stewart quipped.
the rally with the traditional invocation, but in this case the appointed
Catholic priest stand-in began by asking God to give a sign as to which religion
was really right. As he recited the various faiths, the audience offered
spattered cheers. Judaism received one of the loudest responses.
mentioning Judaism and Islam, the priest wondered why Jews and Muslims don’t get
along better given their similar dietary habits.
“I don’t eat pork, you
don’t eat pork – let’s build on that.”
Throughout the three-hour event,
Stewart shared the stage with his supposed arch-rival Steven Colbert, and humor
reigned. Colbert hosts The Colbert Report, a mock conservative talk show that
appears on Comedy Central after the Daily Show, and on Saturday joined Stewart
with a “March to Keep Fear Alive.”
The two men welcomed to the stage
other famous actors, comedians and singers, including Cat Stevens, a convert to
Islam who now uses the name Yousef Islam, and heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne.
Islam began by [singing] his song “Peace Train,” which Colbert interrupted as
being too optimistic.
He brought in Osbourne, who began to belt out
In the end, they compromised with a rendition of “Love
Train” by the OJays.
But it was “You’re Not Alone” that was being played
when Gordon asked for Aimee’s hand.
“This can be our song,” he told her.