As night follows day, the appearance of conservative woman on the scene drives many of the liberal media to distraction and to hysteria. The Sarah Palin script is dusted off — the media have grown bored with her as a successful celebrity and an unlikely presidential aspirant — and pulled out for the next media juggernaut. Along comes Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — no whackier than Newt Gingrich, no more conservative than Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), no more a long shot than Rick Santorum, no more gaffe-prone than Joe Biden — and the left-leaning punditocracy goes into ridicule mode.

You need not agree with anything Bachmann says, nor think she is in the first or even second tier of candidates to know that the media are making a fundamental error, again. Let’s put aside the fact that 90 percent of the coverage (maybe more) exaggerated the news that Bachmann might set up an exploratory committee in June.

No sooner did the news hit than ridicule replaced reasoned analysis. Is that the job of the media — to dismiss candidates with the back of the hand? Or might some actual analysis take place? No sooner did the media hoot and holler than Bachmann wowed the crowd at a conservative gathering in Iowa. As Dan Balz reported, she was a smash:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the most conservative members of the House, hosted the day-long conference, which drew hundreds of activists. It was the second conservative gathering of the month in the state to draw a handful of presidential hopefuls — the first was hosted by a religious conservative group — and was another reminder of how deeply intertwined fiscal and cultural issues are in the state with the nation’s first presidential caucuses.

The possible presidential candidates included Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, businessman Herman Cain and former United Nations ambassador John Bolton. But it was Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who lit up the gathering with a rapid-fire denunciation of the president that had the audience on its feet cheering.

So, umm, could it be, possibly, that she might have an impact in the race? Or maybe the announcement was simply a head fake and an effective means of getting more coverage. Maybe she will slice and dice Mitt Romney in the debates. Perhaps she will cull many of the social conservative voters that Barbour is counting on. But, so long as she is a joke, there’s no need to bother with all that, you see.

Bill Press on Reliable Sources called her a “laughingstock” on Sunday (the rest of us took exception). Bill Maher called her a “bimbo.” But it seems the joke was on the liberal pundits. I mean, how many times do they have to miss a story concerning a new conservative phenomenon — the Tea Party, comes to mind — before they figure out that their initial (and often second and third) take on someone whose values and views they abhor might just be out of kilter. And in any case, do they serve their viewers and readers (not to mention that vaunted gaol of “civility”?) by acting like college freshmen catcalling from the balcony of their fraternity house?