Welcome back, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Returning from maternity leave, Hasselbeck came to the View table this morning bursting with opinions for Monday’s all-“Hot Topics” day.

On the Balloon Boy hoax: “This is what we deserved,” she said, making two points: that the public craving for reality TV has both inspired people to do stunts like this to gain TV fame, and that extensive coverage of stunts like this has infected news coverage. Pretty sensible, yes?

(I did like the way Whoopi introduced footage of Balloon Dad as being from “something called Wife Swap.” It’s great that Whoopi, whose orneriness I’m warming to more and more, doesn’t seem to know or care this is an ABC show; even more glad that she doesn’t watch that junk.)

On the Obama administration’s recent skirmishes with the Fox News Channel, Elisabeth said: “Isn’t that edging toward an attempt at censorship… when our President asks us not to watch a certain channel?” Um, no — that’s not what happened, Elisabeth.

She defended Rush Limbaugh’s racially insensitive remarks by saying Jennifer Lopez and the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie have also made racially offensive remarks. Two wrongs don’t make a… Plus, Lopez and Fergie don’t have daily radio platforms for their opinions or a track record for offensiveness.

In closing, she shared with us that she’s now “practicing strict birth-control methods.” Ah, that’s more like it!

All in all, a fine return to form for the mighty Hasselbeck. Did you watch?

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