Jon Stewart challenges Pawlenty on “tyranny” rhetoric

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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stopped by The Daily Show Wednesday night to chat with Jon Stewart, continuing his media tour. Pawlenty has appeared on a host of television programs this week, ranging from the standard news programs to shows such as The View, as part of his tour promoting his new book, Courage to Stand.

Unlike most of his recent media appearances, The Daily Show interview largely shied away from a discussion of Pawlenty’s presidential ambitions. Instead, Stewart spent the whole interview pushing Pawlenty to defend or reject government-as-tyranny language – particularly regarding President Obama’s policies – that has come to dominate the right wing of the Republican party through the tea party movement.

Stewart opened the interview by clarifying that he was not trying to tie any of this into the events in Tuscon last weekend and, instead, debate the general direction of political speech since Obama was elected. “I want to move past the idea that our political rhetoric and the context of news somehow is responsible for this but I do want to talk about our political rhetoric,” Stewart said.

“This administration does not appear to be fundamentally different than eight years under George Bush, but the panic and the reaction it has set off has seemed fundamentally different,” Stewart said, as he frequently returned to comparing Obama’s policies to expansions of the federal government under the Bush administration.

Pawlenty countered Stewart by noting that activists on the left were equally angered in their rhetoric when Bush was president, but Stewart argued that the recent shift has not come only among the grassroots of the right, but is echoed among Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich.

Watch the full 20-minute, extended interview:

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