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Chris Matthews on Air America: McCain Hitting 'Idiot Button'; Mocks Palin

MSNBC's Chris Matthews appeared on Montel Williams' Air America radio show on Wednesday to slam John McCain: "I think McCain put his finger on the idiot button." The Hardball host fumed about McCain's criticism of how Barack Obama has handled the response to Iran's disputed election. He also unflatteringly compared the Senator to Sarah Palin.

After getting a laugh from the Montel Across America host, Matthews reiterated, "I'm telling you, the idiot button." He complained, "That's my new term for when you start putting your finger on the button that's got Sarah Palin's fingerprints on it." Matthews broke off his attack and then explained that McCain is a "very smart, patriotic American."

Seemingly setting a new standard for the United States' relationship with other countries, he suggested, "The worst thing we can do is get involved in someone else's politics." Of course, many liberals in the media were very interested in how the rest of the world viewed our 2008 presidential election and their opinion of Barack Obama.

This isn't the first time Matthews has used the "idiot button" line. On his June 16 show, he derided, "And the idiot button is the one often pushed by Sarah Palin, but this week by John McCain and others."

Interestingly, Chris Matthews talked to Steve Krakauer of Media Bistro on Thursday and actually suggested that Dick Cheney's aggressive, public attacks against the Obama administration were well executed. He noted the former Vice President's rising poll numbers and complimented, "I think it shows that fighting looks better for most Americans. So, even Cheney, who doesn't have the most, you know, arresting personality, it's better to be a pug, to be a fighter bee, to be a fighter. So, I think he did the right thing the last couple of weeks, for him."

A partial transcript of the June 17 interview follows:

Montel Across America

MONTEL WILLIAMS: But, yesterday, you know, Senator McCain had this to say about what the President should be saying. He claims that the President should be taking a harder line. Listen to this.

DAVID GREGORY: You talk about what the President should do. What he's done, critics say, is wait too long before speaking out. And then he said yesterday, it's up to the Iranian people to choose their leaders. Has he not done enough? What more should he do?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: He should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed, sham of an election. The Iranian people have been deprived of their rights. We support them in their struggle against a repressive, oppressive regime. And they should not be subjected to four more years of Ahmadinejad and the radical Muslim clerics.

WILLIAMS: Now, I don't know why he feels that people are listening to him. But, what do you think about McCain's comments? I think the President has done enough.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think McCain put his finger on the idiot button. And I think that- I'm telling you, the idiot button. That's my new term for when you start putting your finger on the button that's got Sarah Palin's finger prints on it. When you start acting like a nitwit like he and Mitt Romney are starting to talk like- Mitt Romney's a smart business guy. John McCain is a very smart, patriotic American. Why is he talking in a way he would never be talking if he was president?

WILLIAMS: Right.

MATTHEWS: The worst thing we can do is get involved in someone else's politics. We start messing with someone else's rhubarb- We get our faces in that story even for a little bit and the people who hate us the most will love it.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.