Girls and government win at the Golden Globes

Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said it early when they declared: “This was a great year for women,” which they promptly followed with a cutting, sisterhood kind of joke.

In an oblique reference to the Academy’s snub of Kathryn Bigelow, the director of “Zero Dark Thirty,” Poehler quipped: “I haven’t really been following the controversy over ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady that spent three years married to James Cameron.”

Sony Pictures Chairwoman Amy Pascal and ‘Zero Dark’ best actress nominee Jessica Chastain were so stunned and giddy they nearly buried their heads.

But throughout the night, the comedy duo’s charming humor set a relaxed tone, an apt complement to the reported 700 magnums of champagne that were poured throughout the three-hours-plus telecast in which women were the big winners in accolade and in attention.

Just ask former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who reportedly attended the event at the behest of directing nominee Steven Spielberg to laud Spielberg’s historical political drama “Lincoln.”

“It’s a tough fight, to push a bill through a bitterly divided House of Representatives,” Clinton said. “The President has to make a lot of unsavory deals — I would know nothing about that.”

But “in this Lincoln,” he continued, “we see a man more interesting than the legend and a far better guide for future presidents.”

Clinton may as well haven been talking to his wife, who, in Hollywood’s eyes, has apparently overshadowed him.

“Wow, what an exciting special guest,” exclaimed a goo-goo eyed Poehler after the president’s speech. “That was Hillary Clinton’s husband!”

“Bill Clinton,” Fey gushed. “Bill Rodham Clinton.”

Absent Angelina and Brad, Clinton was the night’s biggest star, a symbol of America’s (or at least Hollywood’s) current fascination with behind-the-scenes political drama.

Ben Affleck’s film “Argo” about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis won Best Motion Picture Drama, as well as a directing nod for Affleck, even though the Academy left him off its list. “Lincoln,” about the politics of passing the bill to end slavery failed to gather any major awards last night, though it is largely considered the favorite to win Oscars.

In television, the political thriller “Homeland” continued its winning streak, garnering acting awards for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, as well as best TV drama for creators Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa and and their Israeli counterpart Gideon Raff, upon whose series “Hatufim” “Homeland” is based.

Lena Dunham, the triple-threat creator of HBO’s “Girls” (she writes, directs and stars in the series) also won big, scoring honors for lead actress in a TV comedy as well as best TV comedy series in the same evening “Girls’” aired its second-season debut. Dunham, who is ordinarily spontaneous and articulate, trembled as she thanked her fellow honorees, “women that inspire me deeply, and have made me laugh and comforted me at the darkest moments of my life,” she said.

“Girls” has won popularity among audiences (many of whom, it turns out, are middle-aged men) for its frank and edgy portraits of twenty-something life. It made an early fan of Judd Apatow, the show’s producer, whom Dunham thanked as “the greatest man and the greatest honorary girl.”

“For every woman who has ever felt like there wasn’t a space for her, this show’s made a space for me,” Dunham said.

That turned out to be an appropriate segue for Jodie Foster’s receipt of the Cecile B. DeMille award, presented by Robert Downey Jr. and endorsed by Foster’s BFF and guest, Mel Gibson, who sat beside her. Foster delivered a raw and rambling speech that finally publicly affirmed her homosexuality, which shocked no one more than her gushy praise of Gibson.

But if the Golden Globes is anything, it’s a celebratory spectacle of Hollywood self-love. Minus the prestige and pressures of Oscar, it’s a night to hang with friends, forge new alliances and affirm current ones.

Accepting the award for best dramatic actress, “Zero Dark Thirty” star Jessica Chastain delivered special praise to Bigelow, the film’s director.

“I can’t help but compare my character to you: two powerful fearless women who allow their expert work to stand before them. You have said that filmmaking for you is not about breaking gender roles, but when you make a film that allows your character to disobey the conventions of Hollywood, you’ve done more for women in cinema than you take credit for.”

Lastly, Chastain thanked her grandmother: “For teaching me to always believe in my dreams and this is an absolute dream come true.”