It was awkward from the start. After noting that their next guest has been one of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters “since day one,” Joy Behar introduced Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) as “a man who has obviously never watched The View.”
“I do watch,” Gaetz insisted. “You guys make news every week.” Then came his first attempt at a joke. “I was just wondering if you were wearing black as a consequence of the death of the political left in the debate last night,” he said to near silence from the crowd and co-hosts. “It was quite something to observe.”
When Behar pushed back, Gaetz added, “Well, Joe Biden at least. I was hoping that maybe Whoopi's bell could wake up the Biden campaign.”
Whoopi Goldberg just glared at him.
As Gaetz proceeded to attack the Democratic field, Behar said, “Let’s talk about your boss for a second.” He clearly knew she was referring to Trump, but shot back, “My boss are the people of northwest Florida,” to which Behar rolled her eyes and added, “Yeah, OK.”
Over the course of the interview, Gaetz repeatedly searched for a lifeline in the only conservative co-host at the table, but Meghan McCain was loath to give one to him.
When the congressman defended Trump’s pick of the under-qualified Richard Grenell as acting Director of National Intelligence by arguing that “it is a good thing in this country that we do not ban gay people from being able to patriotically serve in the intelligence community,” Sunny Hostin chimed in with, “just transgender people.”
“We shouldn't be banning anybody based on who they are or who they love. That's not the kind of Republican I am, and that’s not the kind of Republican the president is,” Gaetz said, despite the fact that Trump deliberately reinstated a ban on transgender service members. All the hosts could do was laugh in disbelief.
The last straw for McCain came when Gaetz said he supported the idea of Trump pardoning Roger Stone. “Oh come on, congressman!” she said. “Come on, come on. He's the swampiest swamp creature.”
“When we designed our Constitution there were vestiges of the British monarchy that Americans still had some reverence for, and one was the notion that the executive, that the sovereign, could extend unlimited grace for any reason,” Gaetz explained.
“Did you just say the sovereign?” Goldberg asked.
“So Trump is the king?” Behar added.
By the end of the segment, Gaetz was rattling off Trump’s list of supposed “deep state” boogeymen including Peter Strozk, Lisa Page, and Andrew McCabe and alleging a “double standard” when it comes to pardon power. He had no defense, however, when it came to Trump’s pardon of Rod Blagogevich, explaining, “I don't know much about the governor of Illinois so I'm not going to get into that one.”
“Congressman, I understand that Republicans coming on The View, this is a great culture-war place to come and show the leftists what's going on,” McCain said eventually, perhaps alluding to Donald Trump Jr.’s noisy appearance on the show last fall. “I get it. My husband works in conservative media.” As a “hardcore conservative” who’s “not a Trumper,” she wanted Gaetz to speak to the “character issues” that could prevent college-educated conservative women from sticking with the president in 2020.
But instead of mounting a defense of Trump, Gaetz fell flat on his face. “Well, look, if cheating on your wife is a disqualification to be president, then y’all probably should have impeached Bill Clinton,” he said.
When Behar and Goldberg simultaneously reminded him that “they did,” Gaetz stammered, “but not with all of you waving any pompoms.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means,” Goldberg said.
“It means nothing,” Behar helpfully explained. And that was pretty much it.