ThemTube: Spinning Tucker's Bow Tie

While the rest of us are drinking and snoozing, the television is trying to transmit important information into our homes. Today, our special correspondent for T.V. punditry catches us up on the week in chat shows. Because we totally wouldn't watch that shit if you paid us. Get your tinfoil hats on!

As graphics tell you before nearly every commercial break, "The O'Reilly Factor" is "The #1 Show That Dominates Cable News." Last Monday, "culture warrior" Bill O'Reilly showed us exactly why he's on top, both in the ratings and in our hearts, by scoring what can only be termed an "ethical hat trick," as he simultaneously threatened someone, made racist remarks, and displayed—we know you'll be shocked!—political bias.

Bill's moment of pure punditry excellence came when he slammed Democrats who pulled out of a Fox-News sponsored debate in Nevada. While describing politicians who should be "ashamed" of their handling of the situation, O'Reilly said, "You know, we've been really, really kind to Bill Richardson, so he's got some 'splaining to do." With that one deft sentence O'Reilly lets us know that:

1) He will take Bill Richardson out if he needs to.

2) He plays favorites on "The Factor," and...

3) He subconsciously associates the potential first Hispanic President of the United States with Ricky Ricardo. That's the most awesome kind of racism, all nice and deeply-ingrained.

Later on Monday night, Larry King welcomed Bill Maher on "Larry King Live" wondering, "What's America's most controversial comic gonna say next? About the President, about everyone trying to be the next President, and yes, even about Anna Nicole Smith." Yes, that's right folks, even about Anna Nicole Smith. Larry and Bill did not disappoint!

In between ads for osteoporosis medication, Larry spoke with the always smug and nasal Maher about the news of the day. Near the end of the show, the two of them found time to read viewer mail. Since talking about the media-generated debate over the amount of Anna Nicole coverage in the media is a great way to continue covering Anna Nicole, Larry's mail bag included a letter from a viewer who wanted to know Bill's thoughts on the "issue." Maher is a television liberal, so he's good at getting outraged and worked up about trivial shit and he immediately went off on how he thought the large volume of media attention devoted to Anna Nicole' death was, "horrible."

Watching Larry soberly nod along in agreement as Bill said things like, "When something like that happens, it's very hard to find news on a news channel" is a recipe for brain-hurt. As if the overwhelming irony of this exchange wasn't already too much to take, they followed it up with somber coverage of Richard Jeni's suicide.

The dangerously high levels of sanctimoniousness on Monday's show must have taken a toll on Larry too, because by the end of the week his heart literally gave out.

You, sitting at home before your T.V., might think that you'd need some type of credibility to be a respected television political commentator. The producers of Hardball proved that this is not the case on Wednesday when they booked disgraced former newspaper columnist Mike Barnicle to fill in for Chris Matthews.

Barnicle kind of looks like Chris Matthews except with way less hair and way more of a pinched-in, weathered face. This is why, when I first turned on Hardball this past Wednesday, I thought that maybe Matthews had gone through a couple of rounds of chemo over the weekend. I realized this was not the case very quickly, because unlike Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle is from Massachusetts. You know Barnicle is a Masshole because the folks at Hardball put a picture of Boston behind him. You also know this because he says things like "c-y-andidate" and keeps calling the show "Ha-h-dbawl."

Further proof that you can't take political talk seriously hit the airwaves again on Wednesday in the form of Glenn "I know that's not what Jesus would do, but Jesus doesn't have his own talk show at night does he?" Beck. Glenn Beck is a former drug/addict alcoholic with no political or academic expertise other than a questionable stint at Yale. That utter lack of experience and ability works out fine for Beck, because you don't need to be qualified to spout out often contradictory and nearly always insane opinions and bizarre genocidal fantasies on TV every night.

But let's ignore him. Glenn Beck clearly says most of the crazy shit he says just to get publicity and ratings. Oh I know. Shocking.

Thursday evening was devoted to "Tucker" on MSNBC. At first, this show seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tucker Carlson doesn't scream or shout. He doesn't even talk about child molesters! For a second there I really thought I had found a political talk show that doesn't devolve into histrionics, theatrics, and typical drivel each night.

Following nearly an hour of relevant, even-handed, and intelligent discussion Carlson brought on Willie Geist to talk about all of the inane, abhorrent crap that hadn't made its way into the beginning of the broadcast. Geist opened the floodgates. "Tucker's" descent into media madness culminated when Geist and Carlson were talking about the "ongoing homoerotic tension" on American Idol, and Carlson responded to a video clip of Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell by saying, "my palms are sweating just watching that."

After that, the T.V. was turned off for good. "Meet the Press" would just have to go meet itself.