The Washington Post magazine’s humor columnist Gene Weingarten reported yesterday about his attempt to set up a dialogue between arch-conservative Ann Coulter, author of Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, and arch-liberal Al Franken, author of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. The idea, wrote Weingarten tongue in cheek, was to do something “constructive” about the “Culture of Negativity and Name-Calling that seems to have pervaded Washington.”

Coulter willingly complied, setting herself up for a torrent of liberal slings and arrows. But not Franken, who begged off on the excuse that he was “too busy.” That prompted  Weingarten to write, “What a milksoppy, pantywaist, jellyfish, weasel-out wuss he turned out to be.”

Weingarten then tried Michael Kinsley, his second choice to fill the arch-liberal slot against Coulter, but Kinsley also turned him down. So did Weingarten’s third choice, Molly Ivins, picked “on the strength of a recent column of hers in which she said that California’s Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger looked like “a condom stuffed with walnuts.” Ivins wouldn’t even get on the phone with Weingarten to turn him down.

So in the end, Weingarten had to play the arch-liberal role himself, asking Coulter questions on the order of: “In your own words, would you say that you are most like the Wicked Witch of the West, Medusa or Erzsebet Bathory, the 17th-century Transylvanian countess who butchered 500 maidservants and bathed in their blood?”

Well, they always say that bullies are cowards at heart. Guess our top liberal pundits can dish it out, but they sure can’t take it.