Jon Stewart: I Hate Our Toxic ‘Political Environment’ — But Who Knows If It Caused AZ Shooting? (VIDEO)

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In the wake of the mass shooting in Arizona over the weekend that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hospitalized in critical condition, Jon Stewart last night traded quick quips for a warning: “I would love to say that we’ve got a great show for you tonight; not sure that’s the case.”

“How do you make sense of these types of senseless situations?” Stewart asked. Both sides of the political aisle are trying to exonerate themselves from blame, or implicate the other side, he said.[TPM SLIDESHOW: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: On The Job In Arizona]

“Did the toxic political environment cause this? Stewart asked. “I have no fucking idea.”

“You know, we live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations,” he added, “and I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine.” He then added the disclaimer that his comments come from someone who truly hates the political environment.

But Stewart did acknowledge the worthy cause of toning down incendiary political rhetoric, at least to draw a distinction between “paranoid manifestos” and “acceptable political and pundit speak.”

“It would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn’t in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on TV,” he said, to applause.

In the end, Stewart said the shooting in Arizona reminds us of our fragile humanity. He urged viewers to read up about the victims of the shooting.

“You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in the world,” Stewart said. “You read about these people and realize that people you don’t even know are leading lives of real dignity and goodness, and you hear about crazy, but it’s rarer than you think.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He’s a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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