As the smartest, funniest and most consistently liberal voice on "The View," Joy Behar has long been my favorite co-host. But last night, when she guest hosted "Larry King Live," Behar cemented her place in my heart. In an interview (posted below, in its entirety) with the noxious Ann Coulter, she was everything King has never been -- insightful, reactive, intelligent and more than willing to call bullshit when she saw it. And while Coulter is obviously ridiculous and certainly no feminist, it occurred to me as I was watching how rare it is to see two women discussing politics on a hard news program.
It strikes me that Behar really knew how to deal with Coulter. Though, on "The View," she can be as excitable as any other co-host, she kept her cool throughout, allowing the right-wing commentator to dig her own grave of unfortunate statements and hysterical outbursts. When Coulter tried to peg the stimulus as "galloping socialism" and "theft" that will only raise our debt to China, Behar calmly, cannily replied, "But who are we in debt to for the Iraq war, for example, where we spent a trillion dollars?" Instead of answering the question, Coulter sputtered, "The deficit's really bad, and Republicans have been the ones talking about it for years!"
Sometimes, all Behar needed to do was repeat what Coulter had just said and gaze questioningly into the camera. Witness the following exchange, in which Behar mentioned she had read that conservative women report having more orgasms:
Ann Coulter: It's because they take it more seriously.
Joy Behar: I thought you were supposed to have more fun in bed.
Coulter: Yeah, but you're not supposed to be in bed constantly, with every Tom, Dick and Harry, including the guys with the electric cars.
Behar: Those whoring Democratic women, constantly in bed with every guy!
(By the way, here's what Natalie Angier has to say about conservative women's claims of superior sexual satisfaction, in her book "Woman: An Intimate Geography": "For our God-fearing sisters, marriage is a sacrament, which means that every bounce on the matrimonial mattress is a holy and ennobling event. Right makes might, and with power comes the glory, and so it is that foes of the sexual revolution can emerge as its orgasmic empresses.")
When the women discussed Coulter's recent appearance on "The View," Behar took her interviewee to task for claiming that Barbara Walters read an excerpt from her book "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America" as though it were "Mein Kampf." The statement could be seen as insensitive, Behar pointed out, because Walters is Jewish. Backed into another corner, Coulter offered her bigoted comment du jour: "If you can't mention Hitler or 'Mein Kampf' when anyone Jewish is interviewing you, then how about not having Jewish people interview?" Ah, yes. Get rid of the Jews. That would solve the problem!
Later in the interview, Behar called Coulter out for referring to former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan as "retarded." The only response Coulter could think of was, "But I think he actually is," following up with the half-joke, "I think it is outrageous for the media to pick on a retarded press secretary and then treat him like he's suddenly Zarathustra."
Behar ended the discussion on the topic of single mothers, whom Coulter denounces in "Guilty" as being responsible for, among other things, 80 percent of the prison population. Behar's simplest question of the night was also her most effective: "Why don't you blame the men who knock these women up?"