Chris Matthews Questions Sanity of 'Zany' CPAC Attendees

On Monday's Hardball Chris Matthews, who devoted much of last week's shows to Egypt, got caught up on some conservative bashing as he mocked those who attended CPAC as "zany" and likened the conference to a "carnival act." The MSNBC host, joined by fellow liberals David Corn of Mother Jones magazine and Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, led the show by describing the event as a "right wing jamboree that puts the zany in the same room as the zanier."

The following Matthews outbursts were aired on the February 14 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The Right goes wild! Let's play Hardball! Good evening and Happy Valentine's Day. I've got a tie for the occasion. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight - the far side. Whenever you think progressives need to calm down and get real you should head over to something called CPAC. It's the right-wing jamboree that puts the zany in the same room as the zanier. Where Ron Paul wins the presidential straw poll. Where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld get booed, a rare moment of sanity over there. And where a real life Mitt Romney shows up, only to be upstaged by a fake Sarah Palin. Talk about switcharoos! Usually it's Romney doing the pretending. We missed a lot of the fun last week because of the revolution in Egypt. Well tonight what you need to know about how the Right plans to run against President Obama. If this is the starting lineup I can only imagine what characters they've got sitting on the bench.

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MATTHEWS: Let's begin with the right wing jamboree called CPAC. David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and an MSNBC political analyst and Josh Marshall is founder and editor of Talking Points Memo. Here's a taste, a little collage or montage, of what we heard at CPAC during what - while interesting things were happening in Cairo, this is what we missed. Let's listen.

(Begin clip)

HERMAN CAIN: The American dream is under attack. But the good news is we are fighting back!

ANDREW BREITBART: I don't know why I decided to make my career trying to destroy the institutional left. I thought that it would just be a fun thing to do and it would look good on a resume. And it's so fun.

JOHN BOLTON: We do not accept an America that is weak and declining.

ANN COULTER: What do you mean knowing that there are jailed journalists? I think there should be more jailed journalists.

(End clip)

MATTHEWS: You know sometimes it's better not to comment but I'm asking you guys to comment. David and Josh, that, you know, there's some people that you don't want to meet in a bar that's for sure even, if you're watching Star Wars. But what, what an amazing group of people there, David. And I think what you're seeing there is it's almost like a levitation, like in some carnival act. Like they're levitating. It has nothing to do with reality over there.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well maybe it's like the side show at a carnival where you go in and you see all these creatures that you don't know if they are real or not. I mean this is like, this is like a zoo where are allowed to feed the animals. In fact you're expected to feed the animals. So while you and I and Josh and others were spending Thursday and Friday thinking about Egypt. What were they doing? They were attacking Obama for being a socialist, for believing America is evil, for causing the economic downturn.

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MATTHEWS: And here's former Governor Tim Pawlenty who's doing more kiss-butt than anybody I've ever seen. They're cracking birther jokes. He'll do anything to prove he's insane. And I - actually he's not. This is the sad thing about the Republican Party. Credible people, like Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota have to act zany to get the nomination.

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MATTHEWS: Well here's Ron Paul. He won the CPAC straw poll. They think he should be president. And actually I respect his basic libertarianism. I don't think it really applies to real life but I like the sentiment at least, but it's not real. Here's Mitt Romney. Let's take a look here. He took second. Look at these numbers. We're looking at the numbers now. It's interesting there how poorly Palin did, Josh. I mean among the zanos. She couldn't even win among the zanos.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.