[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/Zk18tzZv34U&hl=en&fs=1 expand=1]

On Hardball Monday night (hosted tonight by the insufferable Mike Barnicle, who believes all the LGBTs and allies who are mad at Rick Warren live in only five cities), friend of the Blend Mike Rogers of PageOneQ.com and BlogActive took the debate chair against the Rev. Eugene Rivers and shot down the feeble defense of Warren. Rivers unconvincingly attempted to say that Warren isn't a divisive figure and that LGBT anger is a "pseudo-controversy."

Mike Rogers disarmed Rivers by citing the fact that the Saddleback Church web site removed its anti-gay language as a result of the controversy, and thus it was an admission by Warren that he was in fact affected by the protests by those "angry gays" and allies who objected to his selection to deliver the invocation at the Obama inauguration. Beautiful.

I love Digby's take on it. It's after the jump, along with a partial transcript of the Hardball segment.

Rogers took a very unusual tack and said that Rivers coming on the show to defend Warren shows how powerful the gay community is and that he was very happy to see Warren changing his web site just today (to hide his more outrageously homophobic content.). He characterized this as a big victory for gay rights. ("I compliment Rick Warren on seeing the error of his ways and changing his web site.") Rivers was agitated by this and seemed to be frustrated that the dialog wasn't taking the predicted path, rather sarcastically saying things like "well we're all happy now, I guess."

But the really interesting reaction came about when Rogers suggested that if Warren is to be seen as a man who builds bridges between the right and the left that he should quietly and without any kind of fanfare meet with leaders of the gay community and listen to their concerns. Rivers reacted very badly.

Rogers: What I would like to see, and I'd like to hear you agree with it, is that Rick Warren convenes and sits down, again, behind closed doors, not on the stage trotting everybody out, but sits down with the leadership of our community, the gay leadership, and says "I'd like to build a bridge." Sit down with the Human Rights Campaign, sit down with National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Roundtable, and show me that your speech is really about reaching out and that it's really about uniting America. And if you can't sit down and have those meetings with the community, then I think that shows what you're really about.

Rivers: (upset) No, no, no. Mr Rogers, listen ...

Rogers: sure

Rivers: It would be presumptuous of you to suggest that if Reverend Warren doesn't sit down with your particular crew, that's an act of bad faith. That's a political trick...

Rogers: If Warren is a so-called leader in the evangelical movement who represents the evangelical movement on a national level, certainly it's appropriate for him to sit down with the national leaders of the gay and lesbian movement...

Do I hear the sound of a body slam in the arena? EMS for Rev. Rivers, please.

There's no political trick, Rev. Rivers. If Rick Warren is serious about defending his reputation and political/religious views about LGBTs, why wouldn't he want to sit down with LGBT organizations and smooth out the "misunderstandings" about his views? Is that a problem for him? Certainly as a friend of Barack Obama, he would want to take the heat off of his buddy and meet, maybe even break bread with members of the community in the spirit of Christian fellowship that Warren says he represents.

And if you want to see Warren in full damage control mode, take a look at the e-blast that went out to his supporters today.

Dear Saddleback Family:

Merry Christmas!

In this week's News & Views, Pastor Rick responds to some of your recent questions, and shares his views on topics that have thrust him and Saddleback Church into the news media.

In the first video segment, Pastor Rick restates his long-held views on the Biblical definition of marriage, clarifies some possible misconceptions, and offers his thoughts on why that definition should not be changed.

In the second video segment, Pastor Rick discusses civil rights, and how no American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Free speech should be free speech for everybody, even if they disagree with our views. As Christians, it is always up to us to champion civility.

Also in this segment, he discusses why he has accepted President-Elect Barack Obama's invitation to provide the inaugural invocation.

In the third video segment, Pastor Rick discusses how he will respond to the many attacks and accusations appearing in the news, and why it is vitally important to return love for hate, to overcome evil with good, and to keep meeting the practical needs of those around us.

He closes with a word of encouragement to all Saddleback members, and a description of the new Purpose Driven Connection network that launches next month.

You can see all of his videos here. Clearly America's New Pastor is on the ropes if he's having to do PR restitching of his web site and this desperate messaging.

Just to save you some time, in the first video he blames the media for not getting his views right. I'm not sure what about his multiple statements condemning gays -- along with a web site that said unrepentant gays weren't welcome to worship was misconstrued. He also outright denies that he compared gay relationships to incest and pedophilia, and that his Beliefnet interview was "misunderstood."

Warren also goes on to say over and over (he looks quite defensive in the video) that he believes that marriage should be defined as one man-one woman, and then continues to conflate religious marriage and civil marriage. Do these people just not get it?! It's all they have to cling to.

BTW, Warren also blames talk radio and bloggers for stirring up conflict and "need to get a life." Hey bub, it's my life and relationship you're helping to devalue in the name of "freedom of speech" by helping to strip 18,000 same-sex couples of their marriages in California. I think our anger is justified; your weasely attempt to reframe your position isn't working. Perhaps you should sit down with members of the LGBT community and make your case directly to us.