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It's Rosie O'Donnell vs. Kelly Ripa in...'Claygate'!

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143613__clay_lKelly Ripa knows daytime drama, and not just from her former stint on All My Children. Over the last couple days, she’s had a public spat with former American Idol star Clay Aiken, and had to defend herself against loudmouth accusations of homophobia by Rosie O’Donnell. Now, before I tell you why I think O’Donnell owes Ripa an equally loud apology, let me get everybody up to date with YouTube footage of all four steps of the commotion. (Thanks, TV Tattle, for the links!) Brace yourselves; there’s a lot to digest.

1) On Friday’s Live With Regis and Kelly, Aiken served as substitute cohost, and apparently didn’t hit it off with Ripa. Things culminated midway through their interview with Dancing With the Stars champs Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke, when Aiken clamped his hand over Ripa’s chatty mouth (pictured, right) so he could ask a not-particularly-pertinent question. A clearly displeased Ripa told him his paw-to-lips interception was a no-no, then tried to diffuse the tension (sort of) by joking about his hand, “I don’t know where that’s been, honey!”

2) On Monday’s Live, a still-peeved Ripa explained to Philbin that she was put off by Aiken’s “lack of respect.” In other words, “you don’t put your hands over somebody’s face and mouth when they’re conducting an interview — even if it’s for a laugh.” Fair enough, right?

3) Not according to O’Donnell. This morning on The View, she replayed Ripa’s “I don’t know where that’s been, honey!” remark, and responded thusly: “Listen, to me, that’s a homophobic remark. If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn’t question his sexuality, she would’ve said a different thing. I was offended by that.” Guest host Sherri Shepherd, who holds her own against O’Donnell’s steamroller technique with wit and class (and deserves a permanent spot in the seat), argued the rather logical point that no one likes a stranger’s hand over one’s mouth. (Unless, I dunno, maybe you’re in a German brothel?)

4) Ripa, clearly not having any of it, called in to The View to defend herself on air.”What you said is downright outrageous,” she told O’Donnell, arguingthat Aiken never would have put his hand over a male cohost’s mouth,but somehow thought it was okay to do it to a woman. “You have to bemore responsible,” she chided O’Donnell, regarding her accusations ofhomophobia. Rosie, for her part, refused to back down. “From where Isit as a gay person in the world, that’s how it came off to me,” shesaid, then proceeded to defend Aiken as a “kid” who “shot tosuperstardom,” neglecting to mention the fact that he’s 28 years old,and has had well over three years in the limelight since being namedrunner-up on Idol‘s second season. “I’ve been on this show forthree months I haven’t said one thing is homophobic.” Well, now youdid, Ro, and you were 10 plates of wrong.

As I see it, Aiken has never publicly said he’s gay — and if that’sthe stance he’s going with, I don’t see exactly where O’Donnell gets toaccuse Ripa of making a homophobic remark about him in the first place.Yet even putting aside the singer’s sexual orientation, how canO’Donnell feel comfortable saying, for example, that Ripa would’veallowed Mario Lopez to physically stifle her comments, but not Aiken? Imean, I could speculate that Ripa would probably object to any manpulling such a stunt on air, but that would just be speculation — sameas O’Donnell. Therefore, not knowing the intent of Ripa’s comments –Hands are germy? Hands that don’t let me dominate the conversation aregermy? Gay hands are germy? — O’Donnell should’ve pulled anAiken and stifled none other than herself. After all, words have power.And as an activist lesbian with a daily audience of millions ofviewers, O’Donnell has a responsibility to choose her words with care.Instead, today, she came off as the girl who cried “homophobia!,” andnext time around, this gay male viewer, for one, is far more likely toignore her.

What’s your opinion of Claygate? And do you think any of the participants should or will offer an apology?