Is Huckabee happy about Stewart's Beyoncé slam?

Mike Huckabee and Jon Stewart sparred throughout their interview Monday night. The former Arkansas governor is vying to be the candidate of Evangelicals and cultural conservatives in the 2016 GOP presidential field.

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks in Ames, Iowa, Aug. 9, 2014. Huckabee is criticizing President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for parenting by what he sees as a double-standard, saying they shelter their daughters from some things but let them listen to Beyoncé.

On Monday night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart charged that guest Mike Huckabee is a hypocrite because the former Arkansas governor objects to Beyoncé as “crude” but happily appears onstage with vulgar shock rocker Ted Nugent.

“You excuse that type of crudeness because you agree with [Mr. Nugent’s] stand on firearms. You don’t approve of Beyoncé because she seems alien to you,” Mr. Stewart said in a face-to-face challenge to the likely 2016 GOP presidential contender.

Mr. Huckabee’s problems with Beyoncé are well known. In his new book, he charges that Beyoncé’s spouse, rapper Jay Z, is “arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp” in the way he promotes the singer’s career. Huckabee has called Beyoncé’s sexually charged lyrics “mental poison” and criticized President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for allowing their daughters to listen to Beyoncé's music.

On "The Daily Show,” Huckabee elaborated on his belief that the singer is not a fit role model for young girls.

“Do you know any parent who has a daughter that says, ‘Honey, if you make really good grades, someday when you are 12 or 13 we’ll get you your own stripper pole. I mean come on, Jon, we don’t do that in our culture,” said Huckabee.

Then Stewart dragged out his riposte. It was a clip of Huck himself playing electric bass on his old Fox News show with Nugent, playing the song “Cat Scratch Fever.” Nugent sang some lyrics we won’t repeat here because they put the “double” in “double-entendre.”

Huckabee’s response? He said that Nugent’s song had not been nominated for a Grammy in the year it was released. We guess the point there is that Beyoncé is way more popular and lionized, so her transgressions are worse? Also, Nugent’s song is “an adult song geared for adults, but today we have a very different kind of depiction and things that are considered perfectly OK for kids, and that’s the difference,” Huckabee said.

Kind of lame, right? That’s how liberals reacted. They’ve characterized Stewart’s move here with all those action verbs that are so great in headlines about late-night bits – “slammed” and “destroyed” and so forth. And they could well be right, given that Nugent is a very dangerous guy for a politician to stand next to onstage.

Stewart did not even bring up the time the Secret Service visited Nugent to see if he was threatening Mr. Obama. Nor did Stewart mention Nugent’s attendance at Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech, when Nugent said he couldn’t give an honest reaction “because I’m supposed to keep my pants on.”

But who really won here? Remember, Huckabee is kind of trolling for a response with his Beyoncé comments, as the always-astute Bloomberg political reporter David Weigel pointed out last week.

“You all do realize that Huckabee is TRYING to beat east coast elite types into making the Case for Beyonce. You’re not scoring on him ...," Mr. Weigel tweeted.

Huckabee’s vying to be the candidate of the Evangelicals and cultural conservatives in the 2016 Republican field. That’s a big vote in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, where Huckabee’s done well in the past. He hopes to slingshot to the status of front-runner by appealing to those who are aggrieved that the Jon Stewarts of the world appear to look down on them.

It’s “bubbas” versus the “bubbleland” of Washington, New York, and Hollywood – a theme Huckabee and Stewart sparred over throughout their interview.

So by attacking Huckabee, Stewart is validating the former’s bona fides with his base. Not that Huckabee really needs that help, insofar as he’s pretty popular with these largely rural, religious voters.

“No one can speak to those insecurities and resentments in a more folksy and appealing way than Huckabee, which is why he’ll be a serious player in the presidential race. Then when it’s over he can go back to Fox,” writes left-leaning Paul Waldman Tuesday on his blog at The American Prospect.

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