Still mourning the recent death of the irreplaceable radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, the American left now reels from the death of the prolific gadfly and endlessly quotable Gore Vidal. Like many people my age, I knew Vidal primarily as a public personality rather than a literary author (I’ve not read one of his more than 20 novels). Head to The Telegraph for the best of the Vidal obituaries I’ve seen published today (Also: The Awl). A successor to HL Mencken in the pantheon of critical American wits, Vidal skewered it all, from presidents to lowly voters, from his ironic vantage. Few Americans of his public stature have been so ruthlessly anti-nationalist and deliciously irreligious (though not unlike Mencken, the price of his contrarianism was an abiding and fatalistic cynicism). Born in 1925, Vidal died yesterday at 86, by all accounts having never missed an opportunity to have sex (mostly with men) or appear on television. Here’s some highlights of a none too ancient appearance on BBC’s HARDtalk during the reign of George Bush II. And beneath that Vidal’s most famous moment of television, sparring with William F Buckley during ABC’s coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.