The controversial Newsweek cover image of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann does seem to be what many conservatives are claiming -- unfair and sexist.

With the headline "Queen of Rage," this weeks's Newsweek cover shot shows Bachmann staring wide-eyed, if not slightly cross-eyed, into the camera, with a look of unpreparedness. She's got a forced smile, and a stiff demeanor, against a bland blue background.

The cover shot was taken especially for Newsweek, and it's clear the magazine selected a less-flattering shot than likely available.

Bachmann, a Tea Party member and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, is known in some circles as a frequent complainer, and for right wing rants.

For example, one Minnesota resident wrote on a blog at MSNBC that Bachmann is "a wing nut, and if anything, the photograph does not fully convey" what a dangerous political person she is.

I'll be the first to admit that Bachmann is a curious political sort, who seems comfortable playing the role of a self-charged lightning rod. Recently, for instance, I was struck by how odd and uncomfortable it was for her to be running a campaign ad in Iowa proudly proclaiming how she voted against the debt ceiling bill.

Nobody wants more U.S. debt, and we need conservatives and others to ably address the budget deficit and get it down, so that this nation remains the world's global economic power. But we saw what kind of damage that can be done to domestic and global markets when Washington's political turbulence plays into economics.

Congress had no choice but raising the debt ceiling, or what we saw Monday in U.S. markets over the S&P debt rating downgrade likely would be have been five if not 10 times worse had the federal government been pushed into default by not raising the debt ceiling.

Yet she's proud of that no vote?

Yes, Bachmann can seem a bit nutty at times.

But that still does not make Newsweek's cover image fair. It's doubtful, for instance, that Newsweek would run a similar off-guard photo with wild-eyed look of first lady Michelle Obama. It's doubtful, even, that Newsweek would run such a photograph of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Simply, its creative editorializing in a newshole -- Newsweek's saying by the photo image alone that Michele Bachmann, Republican presidential candidate, is a wild-eyed nut.

So when conservatives like Fox host Sean Hannity and other conservative organizations complain that Newsweek deliberately picked a less-than-flattering photo of Bachmann to place on the cover, they are exactly right. Its clear they did.

"Look," said Fox News contributor Monica Crowley on Hannity, "they hate all conservatives. But they have a special kind of loathing for women and conservatives, and in particular women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann."

In 2009, Newsweek ran a cover photo of Sarah Palin in runner shorts with the headline, "Do you know how to solve a problem like Sarah?" In a post on her Facebook wall at the time, Palin said the cover was "sexist," "unfortunate," and "out of context."

And so it goes with Newsweek's cover photo of Bachmann. While Bachmann's style isn't always my cup of tea, I do agree that Newsweek revealed strong if not unfair bias with its cover image selection of Bachmann, using the wild-eyed, off-guard look.

It was a cheap shot. Nothing more. Nothing less.