I'm not sure why someone like Joan Rivers is so much more beloved than someone like...well, you know who...considering she is also known for her nastiness (she joked that if Mark David Chapman's aim were a little to the right he'd be a hero among many other appalling things), but she does seem to engender a lot of "you go, girl" fans among the gays despite being a Republican to boot. Today, she managed to work in some bile against Johnny Carson while memorializing the late Ed McMahon. Charming.
I guess her comedic talent buys her a bit of goodwill. Comedians seem to be able to get away with murder under the guise of humor.