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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

  When host Jon Stewart of
"The Daily Show" joked about getting some seed money from billionaire Richard Branson, the conversation took a strange twist. 

What does Sir Branson know and when did he know it?

Below is a transcription of a portion of the conversation

Sir Richard Branson

Branson with Stewart

Branson changes tone

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart   11/10/2004

Guest: Richard Branson


JS:    What about this?  Puttin' up a prize for ahh somebody to invent something ahh to get us off the internal combustion engine?  What do ya think of that?

Audience:    Yeah!! (chears and applause)

JS:    Get ahh, like an X-Prize type thing like they did with ahh space travel?

RB:      Hmm

JS:     What do ya think of that?

RB:     Some how that's, hmm ahh ahh that makes a lot of sense. Wha, wha what's it?

JS:     It does?

RB:    (Laughing)    

JS:     How about giving me some seed money?

Audience:    Laughter

RB:      (laughing and abrubtly changing body langauge, confidently placing hands behind head) Ahmmm, OK.

Audience: Cheers

JS:     What do ya think of that? You could set this thing up, and people could, it would be like a private industry thing.  There's gotta be a way, I mean, we can fake diamonds.

RB:     Hm hm

JS:     There's gotta be a way we can make fake oil or something, something that we can, ya know what I'm saying?

RB:    Hmm hmm

JS:     It's just carbon for God's sakes.

RB:     Water.

JS:     Water.  It's water?

RB:     Ahmm. (affirmative inflection)

JS:     An engine that runs on water?

RB:     Yes.

JS:     Set up a prize!

RB:     Well, I've just given you the answer so I want the money!

Audience: abrubt silence

JS:     Oh, you're going to do it?

RB:      No, water.

JS:     What? Cars run on water?

RB:     Yeah they could do it.

JS:     What, on hydroelectic cells or something like that?

RB:    That's something I, I don't hmm (laughs) try I'm trying to get my money back.

JS:     I'm telling you something, this could be a great thing.

RB:     OK

JS:    Seed money.

RB:     All right.  Would everybody chip in here?

JS:    You're the billionaire!!

RB:     (Laughing) All right

At this point John Stewart shifted coversation to promoting Richard Branson's TV show, "The Rebel Billionaire" where some contestants will eventually ride on Virgin Galactic into space.

Transcription note:  the conversation was very quick, and riddled with jokes leaving doubt as to whether either party knew what the other was inferring to. Jon was trying to get seed money for a synthetic oil project, thus seemed startled Richard had already determined a different direction to take the project. And possibly suggesting he already knew how to make it work.

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11/16/2004 patched 4-5-2005