So why, exactly, are we supposed to care? Everyone knows that McCain was something of a sore loser in 2000. It's not the most charming part of his personality, but it's understandable (it may also be the reason he voted against the President's tax cuts).
Huffington says she's just trying to dramatize "just how far [McCain] has fallen since then in his hunger for the presidency," whatever that means. What she's really trying to do is exacerbate the conservative right's dislike for McCain. And come on -- we know that someone in this scenario has a little appetite for the spotlight . . . and I'm not referring to the senator (or his wife).
The episode dramatizes not how far McCain has "fallen," but rather, just how far the one-time Newt Gingrich acolyte is willing to go in order to satiate her appetite for notoriety (and social position in Los Angeles). If she was enough of a trusted ally just eight years ago that McCain would confide such a thing to her, it's pretty remarkable how far left she's gone, and how fast.
And -- is this concern quaint? -- it speaks volumes about character that someone would be willing to disclose private conversations in an attempt to damage McCain's candidacy, just because she's shifted from right to left.
Can her recollection be trusted? Well, no one knows besides Ms. Huffington and Senator and Mrs. McCain. But it's worth pointing out that it's not hard to "recollect" all kinds of things about people. Given my acquaintance with Barack, just think about all the colorful conversations I could "recall" in which he told me this, that or the other thing (or worse, if I were inclined to indulge in Anita-Hillian flights of fancy).
McCain's people have denied the story. It would have been interesting if they had said -- "So what?" and challenged the left to run with this narrative at the same time as they try to paint him as just eight more years of GWB.
Update: Check out comment #4 by One Hot Minute below. Seems as though there are even more contradictions to Arianna's account.