Stage Set On National Mall For Stewart, Colbert Rally

Comedy Central funnymen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will hold a rally on the National Mall Saturday, putting a satirical spin on partisan politics three days before midterm elections.

(CNN)

Workers build a stage on the National Mall for Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Comedy Central funnymen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will hold a rally on the National Mall Saturday, putting a satirical spin on partisan politics three days before midterm elections.

Stewart and Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" is scheduled to start at noon.

They announced the rally in September, less than three weeks after conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck hosted a much-publicized "Restoring Honor" rally on the National Mall, urging large crowds to "turn back to God" and return America to the values on which it was founded.

Since then, Stewart's rally has grabbed headlines -- many asking, could the man making a living off mocking politicians actually be stepping into political activism?

The comedian hasn't offered many specifics.

"This is for the people that are too busy, that have jobs and lives, and are tired of their reflection in the media as being a divided country and a country that's ideological and conflicted and fighting. This is for those people," Stewart told CNN's Larry King.

Stewart says the rally is not political, though it lands on the weekend before the midterm elections, and seems designed as the satirical reply to Beck's "Rally to Restore Honor."

"Is this going to be a fun, Saturday event with a lot of laughs that we get to replay the clips on television?" asked CNN "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz. "Or is it going to be something that, while wrapped in humor, is going to make a serious political point about folks in the middle, moderates who are alienated by the extremists on both sides, or by the partisan shouting on both sides?"

If Stewart does decide to use the bully pulpit for a cause, Kurtz said, he risks becoming like the very figures he so cleverly pokes fun at on his show.

In a nonscientific online poll after the death last year of Walter Cronkite, Time magazine named Stewart "America's most trusted newscaster." Stewart captured 44 percent of that vote, with NBC's Brian Williams finishing a distant second at 29 percent.

Actual scientific polling in 2007 by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found Stewart tied for fourth place as viewers' favorite news person, ranking alongside Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams and CNN's Anderson Cooper, and just behind Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Bill O'Reilly.

Stewart began the week in Washington, hosting his show from a downtown studio. He interviewed President Obama on Wednesday, grilling him on the upcoming election and why Democrats seem to be disenchanted with the administration.

Colbert recently blasted Sean Bielat, the Republican running against Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, and Ken Buck, the Republican running in Colorado's Senate race, for their views on gays and lesbians. Buck linked being gay to alcoholism while Bielat said that gays and lesbians shouldn't serve in the military, just as short people cannot.

In his typical deadpan shtick, Colbert said, "Sean Bielat and Ken Buck can't help being politically opportunistic election year gay-baiters. They were born that way."