Gaga's Oprah Moment

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Byline: Ramin Setoodeh

The lady's hotter than ever, but not because of her music: She's become an evangelist of self-acceptance, preaching to an audience of outcasts.

Lady Gaga has taken a lot of heat lately for "borrowing" Madonna's express-yourself-like-a-virgin shtick. But maybe the person who really should be crying "plagiarism" is Oprah Winfrey. "Be yourself and love who you are and be proud, because you were born this way," Oprah told fans during her swan song last week. Oh, wait, Oprah didn't say that. It was Lady Gaga on The View, confessing how she'd been bullied in high school for her big nose and buck teeth. "Getting picked on in school, it sticks with you for life," she said.

To understand why Gaga's new album Born This Way is a huge hit despite some pretty lousy reviews, don't listen to her songs (besides, Madonna sang them better). Listen to her sermons. "I didn't used to be brave. Tonight, I want you to forget all your insecurities," she urged her flock at a recent concert in Cleveland. "I want you to reject anyone who didn't make you feel accepted. Maybe you felt misunderstood--" Gaga went on and on like this between sets, sans music and backup dancers, to the cheers and ululations of the "Little Monsters," as she calls her fans.

Gaga doesn't give her audience free cars or reading recommendations, but she does dole out pop psychology to the Glee generation as freely as Oprah did to middle-aged moms and underemployed dads. The Little Monsters lap it up, following her every move on Twitter (she's got more followers than anyone on the planet) and showering her with fan mail that looks like something spilled on Oprah's couch: "Dear Mother Monster," begins one from Ashleigh Hill of Zanesville, Ohio. …