An absolutely astounding thing happened on MSNBC's "Hardball" Friday: Chris Matthews praised Rush Limbaugh.
Not only that, but what tickled Matthews' fancy was the conservative talk radio host lampooning former President Bill Clinton.
To set this up, the "Hardball" host invited MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell and NBC's David Gregory on the program to discuss Friday's revelation that Clinton, acting as a White House proxy, offered Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) a position within the administration if he backed out of the Senate race against Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
As the segment neared a conclusion, Matthews played a clip from Limbaugh's program earlier in the day (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let`s take a look at Rush -- I have to do this -- Rush Limbaugh today impersonating Bill Clinton and assessing the situation. Let`s listen to Rushbo.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh dear!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`m going to kiss your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) if you kiss my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I`ll make sure that you -- if you come groveling to me, I`ll be happy to help you out here. Now look at what has happened here, they go to Bill Clinton. He`s famous for getting people jobs. Monica Lewinsky offered a job at Revlon. She was offered a job at the United Nations. She didn`t take any of them. But they`ve got Bill Clinton. Isn`t it great, folks, that they found a guy who they know will commit perjury to carry the water here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well sometimes even he can get it right. That was pretty good lampooning, I`ve got to say.
You gotta love Mitchell saying "Oh dear" when Matthews introduced the clip.
But what got into the Hardballer not only offering praise to a man that he routinely expresses contempt for, but also doing so when the object of his disaffection is mocking Bill Clinton?
Shocking to say the least.
*****Update: Hot Air's Ed Morrissey chimes in, "Clinton may not be able to close the sale, but he has a well-established flexibility on honesty ... apparently, just what Obama wanted in a buffer. Having Matthews acknowledge the truth of that on MS-NBC demonstrates just how disillusioned and disenchanted Matthews has become, at least temporarily."