catfight!Sweet Jesus on a Stick, is there anything more edifying and entertaining than when two incredibly irritating people get into a nasty cat-fight? What is there to do, really, besides pop some popcorn and pull up a chair?

FDL contributor and all-around Prince Among Men, Thers at Whiskey Ashes points us to a dust-up between Ann “O-Ring” Althouse and, of all people, disgraced TNR writer and sock-puppeteer extra-ordinaire, Lee “Blogofascism” Siegel.

Hold. Me. Back. Extra butter and salt on mine, please!

Thers:

An Epic Battle of Internets Laughingstocks!

Ann Althouse v. Lee Siegel.

No, really. They’re having a fight. It is easily one of the most hilariously retarded exhibitions ever witnessed, ever.

What, even better than Michelle Malkin’s abortive feud with Matt Drudge? Do go on.

It all started the other day when Anodyne Outhouse was musing on the unfortunate plight of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who is learning the hard way what most sensible blogospheric denizens figured out some time ago, that creating a fictitious online persona to praise yourself and attack your enemies is a really, really stupid idea. I was actually going to mention Althouse’s post the other night, because it contains one of those signature Althousian lines that’s so obtuse that it makes you wonder how she ties her shoes in the morning without hanging herself.

“You know, I’m sympathetic to both Siegel and Mackey,” she chirps, “Why can’t we play on line?” Then she asserts the following:

Using a pseudonym on line is like walking around in public incognito. People don’t always have to know who you are. If the new rule is going to be that you must always be identifiable, what a horrible loss of freedom!

Now, please bear in mind that this is the woman who nearly swallowed her tongue in apoplectic rage when all the commenters over at Sadly, No! started posting their comments under her name.

(Heh. That was awesome, by the way.)

Well, Siegel himself showed up in her comments thread, all offended dignity and out-thrust chest. Here’s the thing, though. Althouse doesn’t really believe (or says she doesn’t believe) that it’s actually Siegel.

What ensued was possibly the most hilarious email exchange I have ever eavesdropped on.

Althouse:

I deleted the comment and wrote:

I don’t accept people posting under someone else’s name here. I deleted the post that purported to be Lee Siegel because it’s inconceivable to me that Lee Siegel could be dumb enough to write: “Ann Althouse astonishingly writes that she ‘condemns’ me because ‘the truth is I never liked Lee Siegel,’ so I guess nothing I say will penetrate her bias.”

Obviously, the post and another comment defends Lee Siegel and I only said I was “tempted” to condemn “the practice” of sock puppetry — not Siegel himself because I don’t like him. (I don’t like his writing. Find my old posts criticizing his writing if you like.) I’m defending him in spite of the fact that I don’t like his writing. Get it? The opposite of bias. Jeez.

If that actually was Lee Siegel, he can email me and convince me it was him, and then I’ll restore the post, which I still have.

So, Siegel wrote to her:

Yes, that was dumb old me. Please restore my post.

Which would have been enough for more rational souls than Ann. She, however, remained unconvinced:

I responded:

I have a strong policy against imitations, so you need to prove it to me. I myself am imitated on a site and I don’t like it.

But, Ann, why can’t we “play” online? If we all have to be ourselves all the time, well, what a horrible loss of freedom that would be!

Siegel responds:

Prove it to you? Are you kidding? You want me to Fedex you my passport? What childishness. Then I guess you can’t prove that anyone is who he says he is who writes in to your “blog.” Hey, it’s me. You just don’t want to restore my post. So don’t. One more tale from the brave new blogosphere.

Althouse:

I retort:

You’ve given me the proof that you are not Lee Siegel. Thanks.

Am I wrong?

Actually, Ann, I think you are, but when on earth has that ever stopped you before?

I can’t think of two people who deserve each other more than Ann and “Sprezzatura” Siegel. He’s the former New Republic wonk who pseudonymously says things about himself like:

I’m a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I’m an editor at a magazine in NYC and he’s written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties…And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t. Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.

He goes on to say, “And Siegel has a massive cock…from what I hear, at least. You twerps just hate him because you’re jealous of his devilish good looks, prodigious talent, and his legendary way with the ladies. And did I mention he has a MASSIVE cock?!”

And Althouse, well, we know what she is, a self-aggrandizing whiner who, if she was any more shallow, you could fly-cast in. She of the “American Idol” fixation and widely un-coveted status as Typhoid Mary of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. (Ann Coulter being Patient Zero.)

How long before these zany kids realize that they’re made for each other and fall madly and messily in love?

I just hope I have enough popcorn.