Chris Matthews touted President Bush's comedic performance at the White House Correspondents Association's 2006 awards dinner on April 29, while joining Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen in panning comedian Stephen Colbert's performance at the same event. Also on the program, while hosting White House communications director Nicolle Wallace, Matthews declared that it is "very courageous for a White House person" to appear on Hardball.
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On the May 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews touted President Bush's comedic performance at the White House Correspondents Association's (WHCA) 2006 awards dinner on April 29, while joining Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen in panning comedian Stephen Colbert's performance at the same event. Also on the program, while hosting White House communications director Nicolle Wallace, Matthews declared it "very courageous for a White House person" to appear on Hardball.
Matthews called Bush's performance "really funny," citing one of Bush's jokes about Vice President Dick Cheney as "[t]he funniest line of the night." He added that Bush was "self-deprecating ... to say the least" and that it was "quite nice of the president to do it [the performance] because it was kind of humble."
Later in the show, Matthews contrasted Colbert's performance with Bush's "unbelievable self-deprecating" comedy routine. When Allen asserted that Colbert, who skewered Bush and the White House press corps, "went over about as well as David Letterman at the Oscars," Matthews asked: "Why do you think he was so bad?" Responding to Allen's claim that "the standard at these dinners is singe, not burn," Matthews assented: "The president's our head of state, not just a politician."
In addition to praising Bush's performance, Matthews also had high praise for Wallace, whom he described as a "great person," while offering no explanation for his assertion that "[i]t is very courageous for a White House person" to appear on his show. Matthews also referred to incoming White House press secretary and former Fox News host Tony Snow as a "great guy."
From the May 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Let's leave on a really happy note.
MATTHEWS: My friend Tony Snow -- have I hurt him by saying that?
WALLACE: I don't think so. I don't think so.
MATTHEWS: He's a great guy.
WALLACE: He is.
MATTHEWS: How did you land him? What was the selling point for Tony Snow as the new presidential press secretary?
WALLACE: Well, you'd have to ask Tony. And I am sure that all signs indicate that he is going to be ready and willing and able to be out there and be a real strong advocate for this president. You know, it don't think it takes much to convince someone to come in and speak for someone who is truly one of the most enjoyable bosses I've ever had to work for.
And to speak for George W. Bush is a privilege. We can all really just muck it up. He speaks with such clarity and he has such conviction. And he's really someone who cares much more about doing the right thing than about opinion polls. And it is a pleasure to speak for someone like that.
MATTHEWS: The funniest line of the night last Saturday night at the press dinner, which was -- the president was excellent. We're going to show a piece of the president and his body double, which is really funny, and quite nice of the president to do it, because it was kind of humble.
MATTHEWS: Self-deprecating, yeah, to say the least. He said something about how the vice president, [Dick] Cheney, said he is a good man with a big heart. And then he paused and he goes, "Well, he is a good man."
WALLACE: Yes. My favorite line was that he survived the shake-up.
MATTHEWS: Oh, that he did. Bush did. You're great, Nicolle. You're a great person. Thank you for coming over here to Hardball to our own home court. It's very courageous for a White House person.
WALLACE: Thank you for having me. It was very nice.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to bring Dick Cheney along with you next time?
MATTHEWS: I'm going to quote you.
MATTHEWS: Well, the imitator was the subconscious and the president was the public Bush. It was unbelievably self-deprecating.
ALLEN: It was. Unlike Stephen Colbert, who went over about as well as David Letterman at the Oscars.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think he was so bad, Colbert?
ALLEN: It really made you miss the gentle, more artful way that somebody like Jody Powell -- you know, Stephen Colbert is one of the most influential people in America -- Time 100, the issue on the stands right now has a great tribute to him by Brian Williams, very clever. But you have to have a sense of the room, and, as you know, the standard at these dinners is singe, not burn. He didn't achieve that.
MATTHEWS: The president's our head of state, not just a politician.