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Stewart, Colbert announce Washington rallies

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
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Stewart, Colbert ready to rally
  • NEW: National Park Service confirms comics' application for event on National Mall
  • Jon Stewart says he will host a "Rally to Restore Sanity" on October 30
  • Stephen Colbert counters with a "March to Keep Fear Alive"
  • The announcements come weeks after much-publicized rallies in nation's capital

(CNN) -- Two Comedy Central funnymen are apparently entering into the partisan political fray with rallies of their own in the nation's capital.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have set October 30 as the date for their respective rallies.

On Thursday night's airing of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," the comedian announced plans for a "Rally to Restore Sanity."

"See you October 30 on the National Mall to spread the timeless message, 'Take it down a notch for America,' " he said.

Stewart dubbed the event a "clarion call for rationality."

"A million moderate march, where we take to the streets to send a message to our leaders and our national media that says, 'We are here! We ... are only here until 6 though, because we have a sitter,'" he said.

On "The Colbert Report," which airs immediately after Stewart's show, Colbert fired back with plans for his "March to Keep Fear Alive."

"Now is not the time to take it down a notch. Now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom," Colbert said.

Stewart said on his Thursday show that he had reserved a spot on the National Mall.

"The forms have been filled out, the checks have been written," he said.

Stewart and Colbert have submitted one application for a permit for the Washington Monument grounds on October 30, National Park Service spokesman Bill Line confirmed Friday.

"A permit is not finalized yet, and they are still working through a resolution as for any event," Line added.

Stewart is known more for commentaries on his 30-minute show than publicity stunts. But Colbert has engaged the public several times outside his show's New York studio, filing papers to run for president in South Carolina and shaving his head while taping his show in Iraq to show support for troops.

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.

See the poll results here

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.

See the Pew poll results here

In a separate Pew survey, 16 percent of Americans said they regularly watched "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report." Those numbers are comparable to some major news programs. For instance, 17 percent said they regularly watched Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," and 14 percent watched PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" regularly.

See the full survey results

The announcements come 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.

That event drew criticism for its timing and location -- on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in the same place.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN at the time that Beck was mimicking King and "humiliating the tradition." And other civil rights activists gathered nearby with the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network in a "Reclaim the Dream" rally.

Stewart first publicly floated the idea of a counter-rally in a profile in the September 12 edition of New York magazine.

"Maybe we would do a 'March of the Reasonable,' on a date of no particular significance," Stewart says in the article.

Read the New York magazine profile

The website logos and icons created for the Colbert and Stewart rallies mimic Beck's, using identical typography and similar stylized images.

"We're looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard," the website for the "Rally to Restore Sanity" says.

The "March to Keep Fear Alive" site takes a more alarmist approach: "Never forget -- 'Reason' is just one letter away from 'Treason.' Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can't afford to take that chance."

CNN's Jim Kavanagh and Bob Kovach contributed to this report.