By Ken Tucker
Updated September 07, 2010 at 04:09 PM EDT

Barbara Walters returned to The View to kick off the show’s 14th season. Looking fit after heart surgery, she received taped greetings from celebs including Elton John and Justin Bieber, plus a big hug from a first-time View guest: David Letterman.

Letterman loves to talk about his decade-old quintuple bypass operation, and was delighted that Walters was willing to reveal a bit of her post-op scar. He talked medical specifics — “Did you love the morphine? Wasn’t that fantastic?” — but Walters wanted to steer the conversation to late-night matters.

Asked whether he minded that Jon Stewart has lately been beating him in his Emmy category, Letterman joked, “Oh, yes — I’d like to kill the little bastard.”

Letterman said he’d be watching Conan O’Brien’s new show, but as to whether he watched his own show, he said no. “Why should I be different from the rest of the country?” he said, referring to his regular ratings defeats from The Tonight Show.

Speaking of which, Walters pushed him to comment yet again on Jay Leno. His answer was slightly, intriguingly different from ones he’s given in the past: Gesturing to another View co-host and referring to Leno’s retaking of The Tonight Show, he said, “Whoopi has known him for years, and we got an opportunity to see the real Jay Leno in action there.”

Walters did not press him to explain what he meant by that, but Letterman and Goldberg exchanged sly glances.

Walters then brought up his 1995 Oscar hosting gig. Noting that “I kinda sucked” at the job, Letterman said he’d been asked to host the Oscars again. “I had my shot; I screwed it up.” He said his reply had been, “‘Come on, whattya, drinking?'”

Letterman also said he’d like to have more children. And he’d probably like a new dog. As he has on his own show, he told the View audience that his family’s latest canine, Sully, was a lot of trouble to train. When Walters asked what kind of dog it was, Letterman said, “Part yellow Lab, part crime lab.”

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