Forget Democrats versus Republicans on healthcare, or even Rush Limbaugh against President Obama on most everything.
The face-off getting a lot of air time on the cable news shows and prominence on political websites is the battle royal between Sarah Palin and David Letterman.
It started when Letterman made a joke on his late night show this week that one of Palin's daughters had been "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez at a New York Yankees game. He later acknowledged the joke was in poor taste, and insisted that he was referring to 18-year-old Bristol Palin, an unwed mother.
But it was her 14-year-old sister Willow who attended the game -- and that set off Palin, the Alaska governor who was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year.
Palin complained that Letterman made fun of statutory rape and of older men generally victimizing young women.
On NBC's "Today" show this morning, Palin called on Letterman to apologize to young women, saying, it was "a degrading comment about a young woman. And I would hope that people would start really rising up and not accepting this."
"It's no wonder girls have such low self-esteem in America when a comedian can make a remark like this," she added, saying it's "a sad commentary on where we are as a culture, as a societ,y to chuckle and laugh through comments such as he had made the other night. I think it's quite unfortunate."
Palin isn't buying Letterman's explanation, calling it "a weak excuse."
"I would say that you and anybody else are extremely naive to believe that very convenient excuse of David Letterman's the other day," she said. "It took a couple of days for him to think of that excuse. Oh, no, he wasn't talking about my daughter who was there with me at the game, the 14-year-old; he was talking about some other daughter."
Palin also defended a statement from a spokesperson that she and her family would not accept an invitation from Letterman to appear on his show, saying it would be wise to keep Willow away from Letterman.
"Are you suggesting that David Letterman can't be trusted around a 14-year-old girl?" NBC's Matt Lauer asked.
"Hey, take it however you want to take it. It is a comment that came from the heart that Willow, no doubt, would want to stay away from David Letterman after he made such a comment. And you can interpret that however you want to interpret it," Palin replied.
When Lauer pressed her, asking whether that was in bad taste, Palin answered, "It's not in bad taste. Hey, maybe he couldn't be trusted because Willow's had enough of this type of comments. And maybe Willow would want to react to him in a way that maybe would catch him off guard. That's one way to interrupt such a comment."
The National Organization for Women agrees with Palin, adding Letterman to its hall of shame. It chided him for "wallowing in the juvenile, sexist mud that other comedians and broadcasters seem to prefer."
"The sexualization of girls and women in the media is reaching new lows these days," the group added.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.