By Michael Slezak
Updated May 13, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Much like the ritualistic baring of Paula’s cleavage and themind-numbing critiques of Randy Jackson, ugly gay-baiting banterbetween Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell is a time-honored American Idoltradition.

This season, however, has been mercifully light on ”Ewww! You’re ahomo!” back-and-forth. That is, until last night, when during adiscussion of Danny Gokey’s boogie moves, Ryan tried to score a laughby declaring, “I love it when Simon criticizes dancing. Randy, we’veseen [Simon] dance in Vegas in those heels he wears. Not really a lot ofrhythm.” Really, Ryan? In 2009, you’re still courting Emmy nominationsas Best Reality-Show host by using tired cross-dressing barbs?

We live in a country where just last month, an 11-year-oldMassachusetts boy committed suicide over schoolyard taunts that he was”gay.” Could Idol maybe, just maybe, call a moratorium onhomo-baiting playground taunts during the family hour, in the middle ofour nation’s most popular television program? And if the show won’t doit for the tormented grade-schoolers of the world, then do it because,after eight long Idol seasons, speculation over the otherwise wickedlycompetent hostbot’s sexual orientation is both depressing andthuddingly unfunny. Are you with me on this one, Idoloonies, or am I standing on Mt. Molehill, making much ado about nothing?

addCredit(“M. Becker/Getty Images”)

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