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From the Dept. of Ass-Smooching (Chris Matthews Division)


For further evidence of why all TV journalists covering politics should be forced to live as far away from the Beltway as possible, have a look at Chris Matthews' chummy, clubby, buddy-buddy on-air chat with former Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Evans, an old oil-patch pal of Bush's, was on Hardball to discuss the president's plan to break our "addiction" to foreign oil. The segment was a marvel of ludicrousness with Evans making the absurd claim that Bush's vow to "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past" had no "geopolitical" implications.

But the real kicker came at the end of the interview when Matthews began tossing verbal bouquets at Evan's feet.

"It's great having you on, Mr. Secretary," chirped Matthews. "You're one of the good guys. We all like you here. You're great. We wish you were back in Washington because you're a very civil guy and you're bipartisan and everybody likes you and we could use you here in Washington again."

Wait a minute, what makes somebody "one of the good guys"? Being civil and charming -- and disastrous policies be damned? And what makes somebody "bipartisan"? Being a Bush apologist through and through who got his job in the cabinet by helping build Bush's Pioneer money machine -- raising $90 million for W's 2000 run and bringing in huge corporate soft money donations to the GOP?

That's how Evans found himself heading the Commerce Department -- an agency Robert Mosbacher, Commerce Secretary under Bush 41, once described as "nothing better than a hall closet where you throw in everything that you don't know what to do with." Just the place for "one of the good guys."

Evans responded to Matthews' praise by saying: "Be sure to say hello to Kathleen for us."

And big kisses to the kids. And, hey, how's the backswing these days... still slicing everything to the right? And how about that pretty little blonde girl who used to answer your phones -- she found a nice fella yet? Drinks next time I'm in town? The Hay-Adams still good for you?

But Matthews wasn't done applying lips to tush, sending Evans off by saying, "Maybe you'll be chief of staff one of these days."

What?! The log-rolling was bad enough, but suggesting that Evans be given a position of real power was too much.

Chief of staff? Please... Evans is a hack. A crony who raked in tens of millions in campaign cash and was given a cushy, what-harm-can-he-do? gig in the "hall closet" -- and managed to screw even that up.

Forbes -- not Mother Jones -- called Evans' reign at Commerce "a disaster": The trade deficit "ballooned on Evans' watch, from $380 billion in 2000 to $519 billion in 2003."

Evans also served the president as an advisor on energy issues. His track record in this area was just as dismal as at Commerce, helping shape the policies that have given us record gas prices, record oil company profits, and no commitment to developing alternative sources of fuel.

Indeed, drilling in ANWR was the only concrete proposal Evans gave in this online exchange when he was still in the administration. And it's no accident that Dick Cheney felt compelled to call Rush Limbaugh's show the day after the State of the Union to assure the ditto-heads that drilling in the Arctic was "not off the table by any means." These oil guys may say "advanced technology" but what they really mean is "let us drill in ANWR."

Is this really the kind of guy you think we should have as White House chief of staff, Chris?

Matthews caught a lot of flack a couple of weeks ago for going on Imus and referring to Cro-Magnon talk show host Michael Savage as "wonderful" while making a few lame jokes about Brokeback Mountain.

But while Matthews was clearly being ironic when he lauded Savage, he was dead serious when he was singing Evans' praises.

He has obviously fallen prey to the epidemic of Beltway coziness that has turned far too many in the MSM into toothless house cats curled at the feet of those in power.

Check out Open Letter To Chris Matthews for Matthews updates, and Daily Kos for the lowdown on Matthews' downplaying of the Abramoff scandal.

Follow Arianna Huffington on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ariannahuff