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Cheddar revolution? Glenn Beck vs. Jon Stewart on Middle East-Wisconsin comparisons

Commentator Glenn Beck and others have repeatedly drawn parallels between Egypt and the Wisconsin protests. 'Ah, they're not the same in any way, shape, or form,' says Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

By Staff writer / February 23, 2011

Protesters bang drums and chant inside the state Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Madison, Wis. Opponents to Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are taking part in their eighth day of protesting.

Jeffrey Phelps/AP

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From the Middle East to the Midwest, protesters are taking to the streets to upend the world order as the "winds of change" blow from Tunis to Tripoli and now across the Atlantic Ocean to the capital of Wisconsin to spark the Cheddar Revolution.

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Right?

"It is happening," commentator Glenn Beck said Monday on Fox News. "Now in Ohio. Now in Wisconsin, Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. It's happening."

Maybe not quite.

"Ah, they're not the same in any way, shape, or form," The Daily Show's host Jon Stewart also said Monday, referring to Mr. Beck's comparison. "This [situation in Wisconsin] is the same as people in the Middle East overthrowing years of dictatorship? Or is that just the last story you saw on the news?"

So who is right? Certainly the Middle East uprisings have dominated public discourse over the past two months, making it easy to jump to tenuous conclusions between disparate events. Yet regardless of what Mr. Stewart thinks, Beck has tapped into a feeling among at least some Americans.

"The Egyptians have been a great example to us," retired teacher Jim Schneider said in Madison last week, waving a sign with "Hosni Mubarak?" written next to a picture of Wisconsin's governor, who is attempting to gut unions' collective bargaining power. "What happens here is going to be very important to what happens in a lot of other states, just like the thing that happened in Egypt had an effect on a lot of other countries in the Middle East."

Nevermind that "the thing" in Egypt was a violently repressed revolt against an autocrat who had ruled for 30 years and repeatedly rigged elections, abused human rights, emasculated the political opposition, and reportedly robbed the nation's coffers of billions of dollars. Yet these differences haven't stopped both Republican and Democratic congressmen from drawing similar parallels with Wisconsin.

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