Jon Stewart greeted former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, with a Mexican Mariachi band Wednesday on The Daily Show, before talking to him for 24 minutes about his views, CNN, and politics.
"Lou Dobbs! What the hell happened?" opened Stewart, wasting no time asking Dobbs about his abrupt departure from CNN.
"What happened is CNN and I decided that we would be going different directions," replied Dobbs. "John Klein, the president of CNN told me point blank that the network was going to move away from advocacy journalism, that I practice, and move toward something he called 'middle of the road' journalism."
Dobbs' views have earned him harsh criticism in recent years, especially from Hispanic groups, as a result of his increasingly fervent admonishment of undocumented immigrants. He's also been scolded this year for repeatedly suggesting Obama should prove he really was born in the United States, despite the fact that his U.S. birth certificate has been verified by numerous sources.
"As you know, I'm not exactly neutral on a lot of issues, and that wasn't working for me," Dobbs admitted.
Stewart sympathized with the growing need for media figures to have a viewpoint: "In this environment, you have to take a position -- maybe it's not liberal, maybe it's not conservative -- but it has to be for authenticity" in order to avoid "gray, flavorless journalism," said the comedian. But he didn't hesitate to slam Dobbs for his views, albeit in a lighthearted tone.
"I do respect you because your views, however abhorrent and wrong, have always been consistent," he told the former CNN anchor. Dobbs smiled and laughed, joking: "I deeply appreciate that, Jon."
The two went on to discuss the increasing political divisiveness and partisanship in the United States during the Bush years, which has continued -- if not risen -- under Obama. Dobbs insisted that the conservative antagonism toward Obama has been genuine populism, while Stewart argued it's mostly because he's a Democrat.
"There's a fear out there that seems irrational," said Stewart.
"Part of that fear certainly is," Dobbs conceded, adding that "part of the fear is simply catching up with the events of some years ago -- say, four or five years ago."
"Why do they always catch up to the fears during Democratic administrations?" asked Stewart. "It feels like all the people that want limited government really just want government limited to Republicans," he said, to applause from his audience.
The two continued to talk politics and the fallout of the Bush years. Watch the whole interview below, in three parts.
This video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast Nov. 18, 2009.
Additional reporting by David Edwards