Rachel Maddow is Admirable

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.'" Howard also held up a surprising picture from Rachel's high school yearbook: "She was the blonde beauty queen!" Rachel insisted it was 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, sure, but unaware, until she was 16 or 17, that she was a lesbian: "I [eventually] figured it out through rational deduction. I just decided that must be what it is." The feelings were always there, 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. … I was worried that I was going to have a hard life."

But is She a "Gold Star" Lesbian?

Howard speculated that Rachel was a "gold star" lesbian (one who has never had sex with a man), but Rachel refused to answer: "I love that you're intuiting this. You're just getting this from my vibe?" Howard offered her his unique services--she could both sleep with him and keep her star: "I am like an inch and a half. … You would feel like you're with another woman. I'm very sensitive."

On the GOP Candidates & Competitors

Howard mentioned Michelle Bachmann's husband and his bizarre expertise in gay-to-straight conversion therapy, so Rachel laughed: "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 said the Republican party had 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." 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." She even had kind things to say about the worst of them: "Rush is a propagandist for the Republican party and has brought it to an artform. … He changed AM radio to form it in his image."