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Jon Stewart, Bill O'Reilly debate rapper Common

It's not often you hear a hot debate over poetry, but that's what Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart offered Monday night.

As CBS News Correspondent Seth Doane reported, poetry readings may seem innocuous. But in the politically-charged land of cable news, it was enough to spark a debate pitting the liberal Stewart against conservative O'Reilly. And as polarizing as the duo may be, Doane said one thing was obvious - they know how to put on a good show.

Pictures: Poetry at the White House 2011

In their playful battle, the talk show heavyweights faced-off. Their ring? Prime-time cable TV on "The O'Reilly Factor."

The two were at odds over an invitation to the rapper Common to take part in a poetry reading last Wednesday night at the White House.

The backlash began when conservatives claimed that Common celebrates violence and cop-killing in his lyrics, and therefore had no place performing at the White House.

Sarah Palin said of the invite, "It's just so lacking of class and decency."

Jon Stewart mocked the GOP's outrage on "The Daily Show," saying, "(Common was) subject of Fox News Channel's latest exercise in fits of hissy."

The remarks provoked a challenge from O'Reilly.

On Monday, the two pulled no punches.

Stewart said, "It's a poetry slam. Who gives a crap?"

"A lot of people do," O'Reilly said.

Stewart firmly held the left, saying conservatives needed to be "consistent" with their "outrage" - pointing to the story of Leonard Peltier - who was convicted of killing two federal agents back in the '70s.

Stewart said, "Guess who wrote a song about Leonard Peltier? Bono. Guess where he was? The White House. Booh-yah!"

Host Bill O'Reilly fired back from the political right, saying, "You know this guy is sympathizing with two cop killers. You know that."

Stewart responded, "I don't know him."

O'Reilly said, "That's enough for a sitting president to say, 'You know what? This guy might be radioactive.'"

Their sparring was on the surface about poetry, but much more about politics and maybe, just a little, about ratings, too.

Stewart said at one point in the show, "By the way, songs are not literal. When The Weather Girls sing, 'It's raining men,' it's not really precipitation of males."

O'Reilly replied, "Stop attacking The Weather Girls; I like them."

Later in the show, O'Reilly said, in essence, that Jon Stewart was nice for coming to play, and that he's smarter and funnier than most liberals. The debate was taped Friday and the second part will air Tuesday night.

Watch clips from the debate now:

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