This is almost as priceless as the Hot 97 Tsunami blowup. Thanks to Brian Turner for providing this link from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kaitlin Gurney….yet another example of the mentally ill being treated with sensitivity and respect at CSTB.

To acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (above), they were fighting words.

And while there is some question about what exactly was said, it became clear yesterday that there is no love lost between Codey and a shock jock named Craig Carton.

It all started Monday, when Carton (above) used his Jersey Guys show on New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM) for a rant on postpartum depression. Carton tore into Mary Jo Codey’s accounts of battling mental illness, arguing that thoughts of harming a child were “dastardly” and that women who have them “must be crazy in the first place.”

When Codey ran into Carton outside the studio Tuesday before his regularly scheduled Ask the Governor radio show, Codey said, he did what any devoted husband would do – he defended his wife.

“I said that if I weren’t governor, I would take him outside,” Codey recounted at a news conference yesterday. “I have a right to defend my family, and I will, tonight and tomorrow.”

Standing nose to nose, both said, they stared each other down, the governor’s security detail watching closely. There were no blows.

On the air yesterday, Carton matched what he termed Codey’s “threat of bodily harm” with a challenge of his own.

“Shame on you, Mr. Governor,” he said. “You have 24 hours to apologize to me, or you will not be governor come November. That’s the power of this show.”

Codey’s office said he “would not dignify those comments with a response.”

Since he became acting governor when Gov. Jim McGreevey stepped down in November, Codey has championed the cause of mental health. He has said he had learned about mental illness when his wife struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of their first child, Kevin.

Codey and his wife have said she grew so depressed that she contemplated harming her baby – and wondered whether he would fit in a microwave.

Carton seized on that image while discussing mental illness Monday, according to a partial transcript of the show obtained by the Governor’s Office: “What Gov. Codey ought to do is approve the use of medical marijuana so women can have a joint and relax instead of putting their babies in the microwave. Then all they want to do is cook Doritos. Women who claim they suffer from this postpartum depression… they must be crazy in the first place.”

At the beginning of his Ask the Governor show, Codey read a rebuttal: “These remarks hurt me, my wife and our sons. But I am even more disturbed that they reinforced a negative stigma and hurt hundreds of thousands of other New Jerseyans who deal with this disease every day.”

As the state’s reporters converged on the station’s Ewing headquarters yesterday, program director Eric Johnson said he stood by Carton.

“We’re surprised the governor of the state of New Jersey would choose to take a Sopranos approach to settle an honest dispute,” he said.

It is not the first time The Jersey Guys has sparked controversy. Long before McGreevey announced he was gay and acknowledged an adulterous affair with a man, Carton and cohost Ray Rossi speculated about McGreevey’s sexuality. After McGreevey’s announcement, the two hosts said he had had an affair with the state’s former labor commissioner, which McGreevey’s office hotly disputed, threatening legal action.

“If ever there was a governor who should have threatened to kill me, it was the last one,” Carton said yesterday. “But Jim McGreevey came on the show and drank a beer with me.”

When Carton worked for Philadelphia’s WIP-AM (610) sports radio in the 1990s, the Flyers sued the station over his allegation that star Eric Lindros missed a February 1997 game because of a hangover. The station and the hockey team settled the case a year later.