Rachel Maddow Might Lose in the Ratings to Fox News, but SpongeBob Beats Them All

Rachel Maddow stopped by to promote her new book, "Drift," and Howard thanked her for the honor: "I admire your intelligence. I watch your show and go, 'Gee, if I had that kind of intelligence, I wouldn't have to be doing this.'"

A surprising picture from Rachel's high school yearbook caused Robin to remark, "She was the blonde beauty queen!" Rachel insisted it was just a "freak angle."

"I actually just looked like this with long blonde hair ... [but] I was cocky. I think I was a little bit of a jerk."

Cocky as she may have been, Rachel told Howard she didn't realize she was a lesbian until age 16 or 17. "I figured it out through rational deduction. I just decided that must be what it is," she said. The feelings for women were always there, however, just buried under fear. "You don't put a name to it. You don't think hard enough about it to understand what it is," Rachel explained. "I was worried that I was going to have a hard life."

But is she a "gold star" lesbian (one who has never had sex with a man)? Howard asked but Rachel chose not to answer. "I love that you're intuiting this," she said. "You're just getting this from my vibe?" Whether she is or isn't, Howard said she'd still be a gold star lesbian even if she slept with him. "I am like an inch and a half," Howard joked. "You would feel like you're with another woman. I'm very sensitive."

Howard mentioned Michele Bachmann's husband and his bizarre expertise in gay-to-straight conversion therapy. Rachel laughed, saying, "The comfort I take in that is they look ridiculous. They really look like, they look like a living, embarrassing artifact of a way that people used to think."

Rachel also thinks the Republican Party has gone a little nuts in the post-Bush era. "I don't think they know who they are. But I don't think they've gone nuts in a way that would make them [nominate] Rick Santorum," she said. Asked about her Fox News competitors, Rachel admitted they regularly beat her in the cable news ratings, but the Cartoon Network reigns supreme.

"We all get beat by SpongeBob," Rachel said. Although, she did offer a somewhat compliment for one conservative broadcaster - Rush Limbaugh. "Rush is a propagandist for the Republican Party and has brought it to an art form," Rachel said. "He changed AM radio to form it in his image."