Shock jocks shock.
And so it went Friday morning when WLS radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided to subject himself to the controversial practice of waterboarding live on his show.
Mancow decided to tackle the divisive issue head on -- actually it was head down, while restrained and reclining.
"I want to find out if it's torture," Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture.
The debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture reached a fever pitch this week as re-ignited claims that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew as early as 2002 about waterboarding techniques being used, and former Vice President Dick Cheney and President Barack Obama gave "dueling speeches" Thursday.
Listeners had the chance to decide whether Mancow himself or his co-host, Chicago radio personality Pat Cassidy, would undergo the interrogation method during the broadcast. The voters ultimately decided Mancow would be the one donning the soaked towel and shackles, and at about 8:40 a.m., he entered a small storage room next to his studio that was compared to a "dungeon" by Cassidy.
"The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."
With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.
Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.
"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke,"Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "
Last year, Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens endured the same experiment -- and came to a similar conclusion. The conservative writer said he found the treatment terrifying, and was haunted by it for months afterward.
"Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture," Hitchens concluded in the article.