- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — Jon Stewart gleefully struck back Monday night at the former CNN host who was fired after calling him a bigot.

In his opening spot on “The Daily Show,” Mr. Stewart told his Comedy Central audience that, after taping last Thursday’s edition, he had heard Rick Sanchez interviewed on a radio program.

“I think Jon Stewart’s a bigot,” Mr. Sanchez was heard declaring in the taped replay.

Mr. Stewart glowed from his anchor desk. “Rick Sanchez knows my name!”

Mr. Stewart replayed another excerpt from the radio interview during which Mr. Sanchez sneered, “I’m so glad that (Stewart) grew up in a suburban middle-class New Jersey home with everything that you could ever imagine.”

Grinning slyly, Mr. Stewart said Mr. Sanchez “really nailed what it was like growing up in central Jersey in the early ‘70s, the fortunate son of a single mother in the education field.”

Then, after playing back the portion of the interview where Mr. Sanchez questioned whether Jews should be considered an oppressed minority, Mr. Stewart, who is Jewish, acknowledged that had made him angry. He was angry, he explained, because “The Daily Show,” which doesn’t tape on Fridays, couldn’t make sport of Mr. Sanchez’s outbursts until Monday — “and there’s no way this cat survives the weekend at CNN.”

Stewart was right, of course. By Friday afternoon, CNN had announced Mr. Sanchez was “no longer with the company.”

Mr. Sanchez, who was born in Cuba and had worked at CNN since 2004, was host of the two-hour “Rick’s List” on CNN’s afternoon lineup. He did a prime-time version of that show in recent months but lost that time slot as CNN prepared to launch a new show featuring former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker. It premiered Monday.

Several times in the past, Mr. Stewart poked fun on the air at Mr. Sanchez and what Mr. Stewart called “his extremely pokeable show.”

Another poke on Monday: Mr. Stewart played cleverly edited clips of Steve Carell as foolish boss Michael Scott from “The Office” interspersed with strikingly similar real-life clips of Mr. Sanchez chatting up CNN co-workers.

“Carell is leaving ‘The Office’ (after this season); NBC is looking to replace him,” Mr. Stewart trilled. “Sanchez is available!”

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