Rachel Maddow had been on the air for seven months when Vanity Fair published a Q&A with “cable news's newest darling” in April 2009.

“Who at a network other than your own can you not help but admire?” asked reporter George Wayne.

“That's the problem, G.W.," Maddow replied. “I do not watch the television. I have never watched a prime-time show on CNN or Fox.”

“Shade” wasn't a thing back then, but this was serious shade. A competitor I admire? Please. I have never even seen their shows.

Eight years later, in another Q&A (this one with the Hollywood Reporter), Maddow says she would like to share a meal and catch up with Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News who resigned last summer amid accusations of sexual harassment.

“I tried to reach him around Christmastime,” Maddow said in the interview published Thursday. “I just tried to reach out just to reconnect and was not able to get in touch. But Roger, if you're reading this and you want to have a conversation, I'll buy you breakfast.”

You read that right. MSNBC's liberal icon wants to “reconnect” with the former king of conservative media. The proud feminist wants to pick up the tab for bacon and eggs with the guy who allegedly tried to pressure female journalists into bed.

Of course, the “re” in “reconnect” means that Maddow and Ailes have connected before. It turns out that in the years since Maddow said she couldn't name anyone at a rival network whom she admired, Maddow and Ailes have developed an unlikely, mutual admiration.

Most remarkably, the whole thing started when Ailes delivered a pickup line, of sorts, to Maddow at a party: “You're not good yet, but you have the talent to be good.”

This was during a holiday reception at the White House in 2009, eight months after Maddow said she had never watched one of Ailes's prime-time programs.

Much to her own surprise, Maddow said she found Ailes to be “charming and friendly,” according to author Zev Chafets, who included the story of the introduction in his 2013 biography of Ailes, “Roger Ailes: Off Camera.” Here's an excerpt:

The next day the Huffington Post ran a picture of the encounter, and Maddow sent Ailes a note. “I didn’t want him to think that I agreed with the Huffington Post’s implication that this was a scandal,” she says. Ailes sent a note back assuring her that he thought no such thing. It was the start of an off-the-record, handwritten correspondence between them, mostly on the art of cable news.

In 2012, when Maddow released a book, Ailes wrote a recommendation for the dust jacket:

Drift” never makes the case that war might be necessary. America would be weakened dramatically if we had underreacted to 9/11. However, Rachel Maddow makes valid arguments that our country has been drifting towards questionable wars, draining our resources, without sufficient input and time. People who like Rachel will love the book. People who don’t will get angry, but aggressive debate is good for America. Drift is a book worth reading.

In a 2014 Q&A, the Hollywood Reporter asked Ailes the same question Vanity Fair had posed to Maddow five years earlier.

“Among your competitors, is there any talent you particularly admire?” Michael O'Connell asked.

“I think Rachel Maddow has been a surprise to a lot of people,” Ailes answered. “She wouldn't really work at this network because she wouldn't even come in the door, but on a personal level, I like her. I don't want to hurt her career, so I won't say we get along, but I've had dialogue with her, and she's very smart. She has adapted well to the television medium.”

A few weeks later, Ailes said this to the New Yorker: “Rachel is good, and she will get even better when she discovers that there are people on earth who don’t share every one of her beliefs.”

About a month after that, Mediaite reported that Maddow and Ailes had been spotted together at the Carlyle on the Upper East Side — an establishment with a delicious-looking (if overpriced) breakfast menu.

“Fox is a good place to work for journalists,” Maddow said on the air in 2015, “and part of the way they’re able to attract real talent — you know, real journalistic talent — especially on the straight news side, is because they’re willing to stand up for their reporters, just like any real news organization will.”

During last year's Republican National Convention, as news broke that Ailes was on the verge of being pushed out of Fox News, Maddow offered this perspective:

If you know anything about the intersection of media and politics in this country, you'll know that that is just a seismic event, in terms of the Republican Party, the conservative movement and the swath of American media that leans toward the Republican side of the ledger.
Roger Ailes essentially started Fox News 20 years ago. Within five years of starting it, it was the number-one cable news network in America, and has maintained that grip all of these years. It's almost impossible to imagine the Republican — modern Republican Party without Roger Ailes's Fox News.

Clearly, there is deep professional respect between Maddow and Ailes, an odd couple indeed.