John Amato links to this fascinating exchange on Howie Kurtz’s show (you have to click through the link for Kurtz–the YouTube is McCain’s daughter talking about how KEWL it is to hang out with the–apparently drunk and–famous journalists). In it, Ana Marie Cox explains how she ignores McCain’s crankiness.

KURTZ: But that suggests that the people who have been traveling with him regularly…

COX: Yes.

KURTZ: … become part of the bubble, part of the team?

COX: Become part of the bubble, and also, I mean, I think what happens is that you — if you’ve been covering him for a long time, there’s a sense that, well, he does that all the time, it’s not worth reporting, because he does — he’s a cranky old man. I mean, to be quite frank. You know, like, and also, I’ve gotten much tougher terseness than Bumiller got just there. And…

COX: But the cameras weren’t rolling. And also, we wrote it off to, like, you know, he hadn’t had his fifth cup of Starbucks today. [emphasis Amato's]

But Amato doesn’t include the most important context to Ana Marie’s comment. Howie notes that some people have been receiving better treatment from McCain than others of late.

KURTZ: And McCain did hold a barbecue for the press at his ranch in Sedona where some people were in attendance.

COX: Yes, uh, delicious dry rubbed barbecue ribs, actually, baby back ribs.

KURTZ: First hand report!

Goodness! Did Howie catch Ana Marie going easy on McCain because she loves slurping on his his ribs?

A press "critic" worth his salt, of course, might point out that journalists who haven’t been wined and dined by McCain might find the fact that he’s a cranky old man newsworthy–particularly for a guy auditioning to put his hands on the nuclear football. A "critic" might point out that that’s precisely the problem with the press’ little rib-sucking fun with McCain, it makes them less likely to actually report the things we might like to know about these guys.

Not surprisingly, the "critic" in question did none of those things. I suspect Howie’s just hoping to be invited next time around.