Anderson Cooper took time on his CNN show Monday to respond to a Tennessee minister who claims Cooper "boasts openly on TV he'd rather 'have sex' with a man."
For anyone who's not familiar with the gay anchor's program AC360, it is a nightly, hard-hitting breakdown of complex issues, a no-holds-barred kind of live cable television show that doesn't take itself seriously and to date has never included a segment about Cooper's sex life. But AC360 does give Cooper a chance to betray a smirk, even a smile, once in a while. OK, pretty much every night, in a segment called "The Ridiculist."
And that is where Cooper addressed the pastor, Larry Tomczak, who wrote a column this month about "the gay agenda" in the right-wing Christian Post.
In the piece, titled Are You Aware of the Avalanche of Gay Programming Assaulting Your Home?, Tomczak cited examples such as Ellen DeGeneres and Cooper to make the claim that Hollywood is promoting homosexuality, what he called "a lifestyle that Romans 1:24-27 labels as 'immoral,' 'indecent,' 'shameful,' 'unnatural' and a 'perversion.'"
"The indoctrination and propaganda coming from those advocating a gay lifestyle in our country, classrooms and culture are increasing," Tomczak wrote. "All of us need to take note and take action to guard those we love."
Cooper played a clip of Ellen DeGeneres responding to Tomczak on her nationally syndicated talk show, Ellen: "If you ask me, Larry's watching a lot of gay TV."
For his part, Cooper responded coolly, calmly, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek: "I've never actually been to the secret meeting where the gays plot their agenda, though I imagine the catering is quite amazing. But thanks to someone named Larry Tomczak, my eyes have been opened."
Addressing Tomczak's main point, Cooper said, "I don't know what a gay lifestyle is, just like I don't know what a straight lifestyle is. Seems like all the gay people I know, just like all the straight people I know, live all different kinds of lives."
Cooper continued, "I know gay police officers and doctors, gay marines and ministers, even a couple of gay TV news anchors, believe it or not. And all the ones I know just want to live their lives with the same kinds of rights and responsibilities as everyone else."
Cooper said on one point, he agreed with Tomczak, who he kept referring to as "Larry," that being his suggestion that parents turn off TV and have their children watch DVDs of more wholesome programming, like I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver.
"I grew up watching I Love Lucy and I'm as straight as they come," Cooper deadpanned. "As for the Beav, I never tuned in to that. Just never sparked my interest for some reason. I don't know why.
"Anyway, those were the good ol' days, when gay people could be arrested for going to a bar or fired from their jobs, which, actually, they still can in many states, and live life largely in the shadows. Good times."
Cooper also suggested that given his interest in the subject, the pastor might be interested in watching TLC's My Husband's Not Gay.
Tomczak has not responded to Cooper, although he did add a link to the "Ridiculist" segment on his website, which also contains Tomczak's boastful "Open Response to Ellen DeGeneres Who Addressed Me on National TV."
Watch Cooper's full response to Tomczak's column below: