HE Reader: “I was just wondering if you saw the articles about the Obama fundraiser that George Clooney hosted at his house? And that Robert Downey, Jr. was one of the attendees? Wondering what you think about that since you’ve labeled him a Republican or closet Republican.”

My Reply: “I haven’t labelled anyone as anything. I’ve just pointed out what others have said and what seems fairly evident, given Downey’s own statements.

“All Downey being at the Clooney fundraiser suggests is that he isn’t walking around with a Republican stick up his ass, and is more of a comme ci comme ca type at the end of the day. Downey can be Downey and still be an amiable get-around, schmooze-around, socially ambitious fellow. He’s been a very smart Hollywood player all his life (except during the druggie days) so how could he have a problem with the company of liberals at a very cool party, particularly one attended by Barack Obama? Please.”

I repeat what he told N.Y. Times reporter David Carr in 2009: “I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”

And I repeat what a first-rate source whom I’ve known for over 25 years shared last December about Downey:

“His values are pure Republican values. He’s a serious materialist. He loves the great clothes, the beautiful house, the cool cars. He’s a ‘protect the rich’ guy. Why should the rich have to pay for this or that? The people who have it should keep it, and the people who don’t have it shouldn’t complain. And the one he looks up to the most and has been his philosophical guide is Mel Gibson. The Gibson thing is key. Mel Gibson over the years, and who he is and that way of looking at the world.”

“As Roger Friedman reported in 2003, Downey was able to return to movies only after Gibson, who’d been a close friend to Downey since they starred together in Air America (’90), paid Downey’s insurance bond for his appearance in The Singing Detective (’03).

“Downey has looked up to Gibson as an older brother and authority figure and mentor for a long time…Mel said this, Mel said that…all through the ’90s and the aughts. They shared [the late] Ed Limato as an agent. I ask you, how can you be that close to Mel Gibson for 20 years and not share some of his values? Of all the people Downey was close to Mel was by far the most politically inclined and vocal…he was a kind of guru.

“So they’ve been close all through the last 20 years despite Air America having been a failure, both commercially and critically. Usually people sort of run away from people with whom they’ve made a bomb with, but not here.”