In a clash between two of the loudest and most intrusive political talkers in the business, neither Chris Matthews nor former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer endeared themselves very well on Wednesday evening.
The segment on MSNBC's Hardball seemed to extend well beyond its allotted time, and there was no shortage of notable fireworks. Fleischer called Matthews "shameful" for suggesting that the Bush administration "blew it" on 9/11 -- because the attacks occurred under "your watch." He called MSNBC "disingenuous," ridiculed Matthews for asking only partisan questions, and asked whether the cable host twisted every guest's words.
Matthews, for his part, ridiculed George W. Bush for leaving office with one of the lowest presidential approval ratings in the nation's history, for creating an economic mess that President Obama had to clean up, and for leading a foreign policy based on "truly frightening" rationales.
Among the notable whoppers: Fleischer claimed that Obama should thank his predecessor for "inherit[ing] a world without Saddam in it."
But the final exchange may have been best:
Fleischer: "After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might strike again? And that's the threat that has been removed and I think we are all safer with that threat removed."
Matthews: "I'm proud that we no longer have an administration that uses that kind argument...and the American people are too."
Fleischer: "Well, Chris, we all know where you stand.
Matthews: "And you as well sir."