Baldwin vs. Lieberman: The showdown that wasn't meant to be

Coulda been a contender!

It could have been the match of the century: Alec Baldwin vs. Joseph Lieberman.

The Hollywood liberal elitist vs. the former DINO. The outspoken actor vs. the outspoken Connecticut senator. The man who famously survived a calamitous divorce from Kim Basinger vs. the man who famously survived a calamitous race against Ned Lamont. The pal of John McCain vs. the ardent supporter of Barack Obama.

For a while, that's the way things were headed. In an interview with Playboy magazine, Baldwin waxed poetic on the possibility of someday running for office. (In fact, that rumor has been circulating for a while.) "Maybe I'll move to Connecticut," Baldwin said. "I'd love to run against Joe Lieberman. I have no use for him."

And hey, who knows? Lieberman might be vulnerable to an attack from the left. He lost a bruising Democratic primary to Lamont in 2006, before declaring himself an Independent; eventually, he managed to hang on to his congressional seat in the general election. In the Senate, Lieberman still caucuses with the Democrats, but his endorsement of John McCain drew howls from progressives.

Still, if Lieberman's scared, he sure ain't showing it. When CNN's John King (video below) asked Lieberman about the potential challenge, he chuckled. "You know, make my day," Lieberman said. "I must say I respect Alec Baldwin as an actor, and as a comedian, and if he wants to run, that's his right." Take that, Baldwin!

Today, just as the news networks were gearing up for a battle royale, Baldwin issued a statement through his publicist. The upshot: He's not interested in taking on Joe. Still, Baldwin couldn't resist taking a parting shot at Lieberman, who has repeatedly stated that he has no interest in becoming a Republican.

"Part of me would hate to see Lieberman go," Baldwin said, according to CNN, "because there are so few moderate Republicans left in the Senate today."

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