12/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Alan, We Hardly Knew Ye"

So Alan Colmes is retiring from playing the role of inarticulate "liberal" on the Joseph McCarthy tribute show Hannity & Colmes. I always believed that Alan Colmes was the single most important persona on Fox News because as the TV network's token "liberal" he gave a degree of legitimacy to the whole operation. Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch loved to point to Colmes and say: "See, we're fair and balanced, we've got Colmes."

If Sean Hannity is a snarling bulldog of the owning class then Colmes was his reliable chew toy. It was always amusing to see the right-wing blonde and coifed Richard Nixon acolyte, Monica Crowley, fill in for Hannity on the Hannity & Colmes Show because Colmes is married to Crowley's older sister. Nothing like keeping it in the family I always say -- just ask James Carville and Mary Matalin or Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan.

Colmes dutifully played the role of the fumbling, hapless Washington Generals to Hannity's Harlem Globetrotters. No wonder Al Franken always referred to the show's title in his books with Colmes' name in a tiny font next to an engorged HANNITY.

Rightwingers love Colmes. Tom DeLay, James Dobson, and Trent Lott all called Colmes their "favorite liberal." That might tell us something. Colmes now might have his own weekend show on Fox. What's Hannity going to do? Where will Roger Ailes find another "liberal" punching bag for Hannity?

Alan, We Hardly Knew Ye.