By Ken Tucker
Updated November 09, 2010 at 05:26 AM EST

Jon Stewart began Monday night’s Daily Show by congratulating Conan O’Brien on his new show… and feigned shock upon discovering that Conan is now his time-period competition. “Now I’ll never be able to watch me!” he howled.

But Stewart was just winding up. As we kinda knew he would, Stewart wasted no time in taking on the past week’s criticisms of his “Rally to Restore Sanity” leveled by Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Bill Maher.

In response to these commentators’ barbs, Stewart announced a new project: “The Rally To Determine Precisely The Percentage Of Blame To Be Doled Out To The Left And The Right For Our Problems Because We All Know The Only Thing That Matters Is that The Other Guys Are Worse Than We Are And/Or Fear.”

Be there, in D.C., Nov. 13.

UPDATE: Seriously, Stewart’s rallying point was that, in varying degrees, cable news shows are sometimes (and in the case of Glenn Beck, often) guilty of high-volume anger, fear-mongering, and near-conspiracy theorizing, all in the name of Our Side Is Righteous, Yours Isn’t.

The idea that Maher presents a more coherent argument for his views than Stewart is as laughable as — well, as one of Stewart’s better jokes, which is to say: hysterical.

Stewart and Colbert are engaged in media criticism, not political activism. That’s the “point” Maher didn’t see or hear in his attempt to decimate the rally. At this, and at knocking the wind out of his own sails, Stewart remains the champ, to continue the boxing metaphor he used on his show on Monday.

Oh, and as far as Stewart vs. Conan? Last night, it was Stewart the victor by TKO.

Twitter: @kentucker