'Topic A With Tina Brown': Anal Sex Is V. Sacred

Last night's Topic A indulged the anal sex trend with Surrender memoirist Toni Bentley—and then there was the usual political blah-blah-blah. But, c'mon, Tina Brown talking about back door penetration? Henry the Intern never thought he'd have it so good.

First up on last night's "Topic [A]" were two colorless interviews. David Boies, attorney for Gore 2000, said a legal showdown next week would "be more bitter and more divisive" and "very damaging." In the 2000 recount, he said, Republicans were more aggressive than Democrats and Katherine Harris "saw herself as saving the Republican party." Tina talked to Walter Salles, the director of "Motorcycle Diaries." Salles "had doubts whether this film could be made or whether I could make it," but Robert Redford, the executive producer, had complete confidence in the project. Salles said through travelling, Che Guevara, realized "reality is much denser, [more complex] than he thought."

In an exploration of anal sex —during family hour, no less— Tina interviewed Toni Bentley, author of The Surrender. She excitedly told Tina how anal sex became an addiction, comparing it to a full-time job. "This particular man really knew what he was doing," she said. "I was absolutely stunned. . . It got better every time. . . I felt that I had been given an incredible gift and I was meant to write about it." And write she did: "I don't think things really exist for us unless I write it down." She called the writing and publication process a "slow coming out" and said her experience is not universal: "No one I know has had it as much as me or the transcendence of me." Bentley doesn't allow every guy to go there, though, because "I consider it a very sacred act." Sacred, but public. . . poor Tina was left to ask, "Are you a masochist?"

A dynamic editor's desk roundtable discussed Jon Stewart eating the media and the media eating Teresa Heinz Kerry. Asked if Stewart took himself too seriously on "Crossfire," The New York Times' David Carr responded, "I'm not going to be your monkey, Tina." Carr thought Stewart's point was "well made" but "it's probably not good in the end for his own personal franchise." Fortune columnist Stanley Bing said Stewart has "earned the right" to "depart from his script." Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi was shut down by Tina and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams for suggesting "no one would have ever heard [of the appearance] if he hadn't called Tucker Carlson a dick." Pelosi, who called "Crossfire" "crap," thought it "undermined his entire presentation." Williams and Bing complained about typecasting talking-heads to left and right allegiances while Tina noted through the bickering, "Viewers will not sit through reasoned discourse." Speaking of reasoned discourse, Pelosi said, "Tucker has another show on PBS that no one watches."

"People want to see the clash," said Carr, who thinks Stewart should ask tougher questions of his own guests. Agreed Williams, "What he accused Tucker of he is also guilty of." Pelosi was more critical: "The media is undermining democracy. . . It is really dangerous to hear really shallow, made-for-TV arguments. . . There is a responsiblity all of these shows are not living up to." Tina wondered if Stewart is overexposed or has "jumped the shark" (to which at least I agree).

There was more bickering when the panel turned to Teresa's disparaging comment about Laura Bush's career. Pelosi agreed with Teresa: "I really believe you cannot be honest in public life. . . the [First Lady] hasn't worked since the seventies." Williams was offended: "You can not say what she said was accurate!. . . We should not make excuses for her, she's a pro." Said Carr, "The minute they go off message they get clobbered," in part because the press is desperate for interesting material. Politicians, he said, are told to imitate human beings. Pelosi scolded the fourth estate: "Who's fault is it? Why can't the politicians be honest? The candidates can't have unguarded moments. . . They don't trust the media. . . We get these made-for-TV characters." Here we go again. She continued, "The candidates are totally disconnected from reality. . . the politicans are being hurt by the media. . . That is an important point that is getting worse. It's getting worse! The media is the most damaging part of democracy right now!"

Hot picks
Carr: "Friday Night Lights"
Bing: The Harry & David Catalog
Pelosi: The WB's "Jack and Bobby." Added Tina, "My daughter really likes it."
Williams: "Ray." He held up Jet with Jamie Foxx on the cover: "I actually thought he was Ray Charles. . . this guy really became Ray Charles."
Tina: Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants by James Wolcott and Artificial White Man by Stanley Crouch

Tina responded to a recommendation from Jude Law: "I would agree with just anything you say."

She agreed with a viewer email complaining about last week's panel on Bill O'Reilly: "I don't think I smacked those boys hard enough."

Closing quote by Tom Stoppard: "Its not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting."