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ANN COULTER, JUST TALKING COMMON SENSE (SHE SAYS)

How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)

The World According to Ann Coulter

By Ann Coulter

Crown, 355 pages, $27

Who knew that Thomas Jefferson was pro-gun?

Columnist Ann Coulter does. She writes in her new book that Jefferson said that anti-gun laws "disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes."

She felt the truth of his words one evening in Washington, D.C., when she was confronted by a mugger. At that moment, she regretted that it was a felony in Washington to own a gun. "I wanted a gun," she writes, "but more than that, I wanted him to think I might possibly have a gun."

Things ended OK that night: Coulter ends by writing that a man rescued her. "I'm all for men," she adds. "I like to have them around all the time. But they can't be. Sometimes, they have to go buy things for us. More pertinently, sometimes they're ex-husbands coming after us with machetes."

Even though Coulter's new collection of columns is called "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)," there are some bits of truth in there that will resonate with anyone, even a liberal or two. That's one of them.

Another one is Coulter's priceless look at dating in Washington. She's an expert on the subject, she freely admits. She used to explore it a lot back in the days when she was a regular columnist, Republicanism notwithstanding, for her friend John Kennedy Jr.'s magazine, George.

"Boys in Washington don't know how ask for a date. What they do is try to trick you into asking them for a date. They say, 'I know you're really busy, so call me when you'd like to go out to dinner' -- or my favorite, 'Are we ever going to get together?'"

"What are you supposed to say to completely insane things like that?"

In a way, the title doesn't suit this funny, incisive book. First, it alienates some people who would probably get a kick out of it. Second, "How to Talk to a Liberal" isn't half as scathing as it sounds. It's not nearly as heavy hitting as Coulter's earlier best-seller, "Treason," was.

"Treason," in case you haven't read it, was a stunning indictment of the media, and the media's refusal to air certain truths, such as that spy Alger Hiss was guilty, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right, FDR viewed Stalin with affection and other things sure to go over big around the average Buffalo dinner table.

This new book contains columns published over the last few years. You get the sense Coulter had fun writing them.

In a way, it's like a little time capsule of the last few years. It deals with 9/1 1, the Lackawanna Six, Jayson Blair and the falling reputation of the New York Times, Rush Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers. The columns vary in importance, but they're all funny.

She defends the Confederate flag, insisting it's a symbol not of slavery, but of the Confederate soldiers, a noble group. "Why does native African kinte cloth get a free pass?" she asks. "It is a historical fact that American slaves were purchased from their slave masters in Africa, where slavery exists in some parts to this day. Indeed, slavery is the only African institution America has ever adopted."

You have to have courage to write this stuff. It's easy for liberal writers like Molly Ivins to beat their chests. They're celebrated among the hip and spotlighted in the media. But columns like "In Desperate Move, Kerry Adopts Puppy," "May I Turn Down Your Bed, Mohammed?" and "DNA Evidence Exonerates Hitler!" definitely go against the grain. With that in mind, you have to admire Coulter. She's not only funny, she's brave. And, even more importantly, to some of us she's right.

Mary Kunz is the News' classical music critic and a local columnist.

e-mail: mkunz@buffnews.com