The Alan Jones and Kevin Rudd show takes over Q&A

On Monday night, two of the nation's most important and impressive men appeared on television together: Kevin Rudd and Alan Jones.

Rudd and Jones. Jones and Rudd. Alan and Kevin. Kevin and Alan. Who among us could sort proper billing between them - two men who, if the truth be told by the two men themselves, are mostly unappreciated by the media even as they are universally adored by the public at large?

So for once let us not hide their lights under a bushel, where they wouldn't have a hope in hell of finding them: Q&A's Jones and Rudd tag-team was a television moment to remember.

It was perhaps like watching that famous Elvis TV moment way back when. As Kevin and Alan held forth, you could see only what was going on above the waist but that was enough and you could assume the rest. Alan and Kevin were on song - occasionally in harmony, and even when they hit a bung note, the clanks and clonks were resonant.

Esteemed journalist Laura Tingle and politics professor Judith Brett were on hand for gravitas, but the gyrations came from the go-go boys.

There was the moment when Kevin let loose on Donald Trump - "He's nuts", Kevin declared, affirming a view held by "anyone concerned with a public policy process, domestic or international".

"Nuts," you say, Kevin?

It was here that we knew we were watching a skilled team at work.

"Nuts", as keen and even comatose citizens might recall, was the implicit and sometimes explicit critique levelled at the prime ministership of the very man on our screens calling Donald Trump "nuts".

With exquisite timing, Alan picked up Kevin's cue.

"Kevin," said Alan, with that patented air of disappointment he reserves for the names of every lesser mortal who has ever disappointed him.

"I appreciated your foreign policy dissertation," Alan went on.

Then the punchline - and even though you knew it was coming, it lost nothing in the anticipation: "I'm sure many people thought you were nuts when you were the PM."

Alan softened that blow - or hardened it, depending on your viewpoint - by adding that "many people most probably think Tony Abbott is nuts" - an assertion we imagine the Q&A fact-checkers let go through to the keeper.

There was much else to focus on.

There was Malcolm Turnbull, of whom a questioner declared: "[He] seems to be single-handedly destroying the values of the Liberal Party and what it stands for right in front of his very own party."

Tony Jones: "Alan Jones, start with you."

Well, if you must, thought Alan, who was ever-helpful in his continuing admiration for the Turnbull prime ministership. To wit: "The Coalition cannot win an election with Turnbull in charge." And: "Someone has to have the guts to stand up and say there's an elephant in the room here. We can't win with this bloke in charge."

Shortly, Tony Jones would throw to Kevin Rudd: "It must all sound terribly familiar to you?"

Yes, indeed it did - and Kevin was off, launching into his first but far from last detour into Rudd-speak.

"I've been up in Queensland - the People's Republic Thereof - in the last few days???"

He spoke of "Hustings Land".

And of a place called "Faction Land".

"Faction Land was never a big fan of me and nor was I of Faction Land."

My, how we've missed him!

And how Alan and Kevin have missed each other. As have Kevin and Tony, for whom this Monday night date goes back a very long way. In May 2008, when Jones and Q&A first invaded our Monday night viewing, Prime Minister Rudd was the very first guest - flying solo. Almost a decade on, Kevin doesn't get that kind of star-billing any more - but on the evidence of Monday night, it is apparent he strives these days to work as a team player, even if his doubles partner is a one-time media foe.

On the Adani mine, Tony Jones asked: "Is this one of the things you and Alan Jones might have in common as Queenslanders?"

Rudd: "Alan and I have been searching for common ground for almost a decade now."

This was the prompt for six straight seconds of Kevin and Alan laughing together, with a chuckling Alan apparently reading the nation's mind as the giggling unfolded: "Oh, dear."

Tony Jones: "You might have found it on this issue?"

Rudd: "It continues to remain in part elusive."

But then again, there was the matter of indigenous recognition in the constitution. "You heard it here first on ABC news," said Rudd. "I'm on a unity ticket with Alan Jones."

To close, Tony Jones asked a more personal question. Given some similarities in their family backgrounds, how was it that one of these men had taken a conservative political path and the other a progressive one?

Alan Jones responded: "People imagine the gulf is greater than it really is."

He paid tribute to Rudd's life - "It's a wonderful statement in Australian life that you came off a dairy farm, I came off a dairy farm??? you battle and struggle. But you have risen to become the PM of your country. That is a significant triumph".

Citing the Rudd example, he urged young Australians: "Don't think that any hill is too high to climb."

Tony Jones: "Before we break into Sound Of Music, I will end the program."

Alan: "A serious point, Tony."

The hills were alive.

This story The Alan Jones and Kevin Rudd show takes over Q&A first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.