It's not easy being Larry King.
Take last week. First, he lost his crackerjack column in USA Today when its editors seemed to have decided, after letting it drone on under his name for years, that a newspaper should not print fiction.
Then he had to face a pair of aliens.
The first arrived on CNN on Wednesday calling herself Cadee Condit, becoming the second of Rep. Gary Condit's Stepford Children to defend their embattled father on King's hour of knucklehead chat and, as if brainwashed, assure America:
Gary Condit is a good man,
Gary Condit is a good husband,
Gary Condit is a good grandfather.
Observing her closely as she said that or something similar again and again, I swear I saw right through her eyes to the back of her head. If I could, so could King, who had a better view.
So you'd have thought that at some point he would have checked her for the tiny mark of earthlings body-snatched and replaced by extraterrestrials in the movies. Or that at the very least, the lightbulb above his head would have clicked on and he would have asked why she and her brother, Chad, weirdly referred to their father mostly as Gary Condit. Larry probably knew what her answer would be.
Gary Condit is a good man.
King earlier had squeezed in Condit's equally supportive Stepford Staff between those odd visits by Chad and Cadee, who need only pointy heads to be ringers for "Saturday Night Live's" Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin of "southern France."
That can unhinge even a brutal inquisitor like King. Still, I would have thought that when Cadee informed him with a straight face that "Gary Condit is a good husband," instead of glazing over, he might have come back with something like this: How can a man known for playing the field qualify as a good husband?
Or when Cadee echoed Chad in attacking the media for their coverage of her father in connection with Chandra Levy's disappearance, that someone on the set would have defrosted Larry and thrown up a cue card telling him to point out: By appearing on CNN, you are using the media you are criticizing. Isn't that hypocritical?
It could be that everyone at CNN knew what her answer to these questions would be, so why bother?
Gary Condit is a good man.
It could be, also, that King, following his usual pattern, was determined not to offend Gary Condit here because he still had hopes of CNN persuading the congressman or his wife to come on King's show. Until that happens, which Condit apologist gets booked next, the family dog?
Lift your paw once for yes, twice for no, if you think Gary Condit is a good man.
As for that second flying saucer....
Thursday, the day after spilling it all with Barbara Walters on ABC's "20/20," Anne Heche beamed down for an hour with King that she pre-taped as part of a media blitz to sell her memoir, "Call Me Crazy."
In it she says her late father sexually abused her as a child, and that all through her adult years she assumed a second personality named "Celestia" and lived in a fantasy world she titled "the fourth dimension." I would have thought Pluto.
Hoping to avoid the tears, I skipped Walters and went instead for close encounters of a CNN kind, with Heche telling King that after splitting from her companion, Ellen DeGeneres, she needed to "say goodbye" to the world she had created "to survive my abuse."
Affirming that the loopier you are, the greater your access through television, Heche told America she awoke one morning and was told by a voice she called "Cue-nas" -- this is phonetic because she didn't spell it -- to get in her car and start driving.
King: "Called what?"
Heche: "Cue-nas, which was my word for God, which was the joining of the male and female in God. And I spoke to Cue-nas all the time. For five years, we shared a language."
She said "Cue-nas" told her to drive to the desert, "turn here, turn there. I had no idea where I was going."
For much of the hour King was rapt, elbow on desk, chin resting on hand, as if the blond actress opposite him, with the animated Botticelli face, were not an empty spacesuit.
Heche: "I drove to the desert, still hearing the voice of God, thought that I was going to find love on the planet I was from ... called the fourth dimension. And I went to get on my spaceship and go there, and once I got there, I realized.... "
King: "The spaceship in your head."
Heche: "I didn't think it was in my head. I thought it was landing and I was going to get on it. And I went to find it. No kidding."
King: "A real spaceship."
Heche: "I thought so, yes. Until I didn't think so. Until I realized it was all in my head, and I looked at it, and I looked at the life I created for myself."
King: "Out in the desert."
Heche: "Out in the desert. I thought I went to the end of the earth. I truly, truly went to the end of the earth myself. I looked at this world, this fourth dimension, this world of love, and I looked at this world I had created for myself ... and I said thank you to that world, thank you for helping me survive my abuse, and goodbye, I'm ready to be here now."
King: "And then drove back."
Heche: "I spent the night in the hospital, my friends came to pick me up, and I drove back."
King: "Admitted yourself to the hospital?"
Heche: "Oh, no, the cops took me to the hospital. I don't want to go into all the details, 'cause you gotta read the book. Did I voluntarily go to the hospital? No, I went to the hospital thinking it was the stopping point on my way to the spaceship."
Call him crazy, but the host of "Larry King Live" didn't hit it big by falling off a turnip truck. So in no time at all--40 minutes max--he was getting the drift: "This was loony bin time, right?"
By the time you read this, the former Celestia will have displayed her book and told her story on at least half a dozen national shows, which will have helped sell it and embraced her not because she says anything worth hearing, but because bizarros are marketable.
Who better than King to serve as poster-host for this talk TV upsurge nourished by CNN, where schmoozing and chatty anchoring have gained favor over reporting, a sad state epitomized by the network's negotiations with opinionated Rush Limbaugh and grab of unremarkable Paula Zahn from the Fox News Channel for a reported $2 million a year.
From Anne Heche to Cadee Condit, it's all loony bin time.