POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Annals Of Campaign Surrogacy: Clinton Spinner Outed As Lobbyist On Air

Hillary Clinton has famously stated that she is not averse to talking with Washington's lobbyists because they stand for "real Americans." Well, apparently, she's cozy enough with the K Street set to let them produce post-debate spin for her as well. Not enough room for all those "real Americans" on camera I guess! The whole matter played itself out last night in the post-debate coverage, when Chris Matthews outed Clinton surrogate and former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater as a lobbyist, to Slater's palpable discomfort.

MATTHEWS: This is a strange conversation. Secretary Slater, you work for Patton and Boggs in Washington, a major lobbying firm...are you a lobbyist as well? I don't understand these conversations about lobbyists. Mitt Romney's father became the head of America Motors because of his success as a lobbyist for the American motor industry. Why is everybody disowning the lobbyist connections all of the sudden when you guys have grown up around lobbyists? Mr. Secretary, aren't you a lobbyist for Patton and Boggs?

SLATER: I'm an attorney at Patton and Boggs and we do some lobbying.

Some lobbying? Here's a fun fact: In June 2007, Washingtonian Magazine put Slater at #39 on their list of the fifty most influential lobbyists in Washington (Patton and Boggs' Thomas Hale Boggs tops the list). Of Slater, the Washingtonian says, "...the prospect of a second Clinton presidency does nothing to dull the perception that he still has influence. Coming out of the shadows of nearly a decade of Republican rule, Slater has emerged as a go-to lobbyist, especially in the airline industry, where he represents groups of airline pilots as well as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport."

For his part, Slater maintained that all the lobbyists in DC didn't prevent the previous Clinton administration from accomplishing "the longest economic expansion in the nation's history" and the creation of "23 million new jobs." And we can be totally sure that lobbyists had nothing at all to do with determining which "real Americans" benefited from all that largesse, right? The moment might have made for a good reminder of how much skin is in the game of American electoral politics, but, remember, this is Chris Matthews we're talking about.

David Axelrod and Joe Trippi sure gave it a try, though! And they might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for the way Slater used Martin Luther King to deftly change the subject. That race card can be used for anything, can't it? I'm using it to clean some tough tile grout right now!