On Thursday’s “Morning Joe” with Joe Scarborough, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) got into a war of words with Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington over his vote in favor of invading Iraq. It started cordial, but by the end Lieberman was condescendingly calling Huffington “sweetheart.”

The topic came up after Mika Brazinski broached the rumor that Liberman could be tagged as the next Secretary of Defense. Panelist Pat Buchannan then asked if Lieberman stood by his vote to invade Iraq. He does:

My answer is, yes. My answer is yes because Saddam was threatening the stability of the entire region. He’d shown that by his actions. I believe that the evidence is very clear that he was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Obviously we don’t have evidence that he had a big program. But the most official and comprehensive report show that’s true. He was also, the evidence shows, beginning really tactically to support the terrorist movements that had attack us on 9/11 and today, to make a long story short, instead of a brutally repressive dictator in Iraq, we’ve got a government that was elected, that’s self-governing and the country is self-defending. By the end of this year, we’re going to have most of our troops out of there. I think that’s had a major effect on the entire region. Iraq is now the most democratic country in the Arab world. so, yes, I think it was the right thing to do. Terrible cost we paid in life and treasure, but ultimately I think the right decision.

That’s when Huffington jumped in:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: It was stunning to hear you say that there was evidence that Saddam Hussein was working on weapons of mass destruction, given that even President Bush himself has now accepted that there had been no evidence. So on what basis are you saying that?

JOE LIEBERMAN: I’m basing it on the so-called Duelfer Report. Charles D-U-E-L-F-E-R conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our government. And it was, nobody thought it was partisan. I want to be very clear: he didn’t find big caches of weapons of mass destruction. But he found, and proved I think, that Saddam had every intention, and particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological and weapons.

Lieberman’s reference to the Duelfer Report isn’t complete nonsense. The Heritage Foundation does say the report confirmed there were no WMDs in Iraq at the time of invasion, but also points out that the report concludes “that Saddam retained the capacity and the intent to restart his production of WMDs once the U.N. sanctions regime had finally crumbled. In this he was clearly in breach of U.N. resolution 1441.”

That wasn’t good enough for Huffington. She went on to call Lieberman’s assertion an “unfounded assumption,” and then took a jab at him: “I sincerely hope for the sake of the country that you do not become Secretary of Defense.” They quickly went back and forth:

LIEBERMAN: Now Arianna, these are not unfounded. Go read the Duelfer Report.

HUFFINGTON: There is nothing in the report that proves anything you have said.

LIEBERMAN: [Cross talk] “I don’t think you’ve read it, sweetheart.”

Perhaps prophetically, video of the segment opens with Lieberman saying “I have never shied from a good fight, and I never will”:

After the break, Scarborough couldn’t believe his ears:

As Chuck Todd said, it is probably reasonable to expect an apology from Lieberman. Then again, after just announcing is impending retirement, don’t be surprised if he just moves on.

(H/T: HuffPo)