After playing a clip of Michele Bachmann longing for a return to the "Founders' vision of a constitutionally conservative government," MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday assumed the Republican presidential candidate meant "slavery."
The Hardball anchor offered bizarre analogies, questioning former RNC Chair Michael Steele on Bachmann's 2012 campaign: "What is this, Michael? The Protestant Reformation? That somehow we're going back to the purity of the original Christian church?"
Immediately jumping to the worst interpretation, Matthews continued, "We're going back to the original perfection of slaveholders and how perfect they were and government is the enemy. She speaks pure Tea Party lingo."
After Steele asserted that Bachmann was simply "reminding us of foundational principles," the liberal anchor smeared, "What? Slavery?"
Matthews, who previously trashed the Republican as a "zombie" and a "nutcase ," weirdly critiqued Fox News host Chris Wallace for wondering if Bachmann was a "flake."
The MSNBC journalist chastised, "I think [Wallace] hurt her feelings there. A very human moment there, I know Michele Bachmann a little bit as a human being."
A partial transcript of the June 27 segment:
5:02 PM EDT:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Here she is, Michele Bachmann, the congressman [sic], in her announcement speech this morning in Waterloo, Iowa. Let's listen.
MICHELE BACHMANN: I want my candidacy for the presidency of the United States to stand for a moment when we, the people, stand once again for the independence from a government that has gotten too big and spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberties. Government thinks it knows better. Government thinks it knows better how to spend our money. Government thinks it knows better how to make a better life for us. They think they create jobs. They even think they can make us healthier, but that's not the case. We have to recapture the Founders' vision of a constitutionally conservative government if we are to secure the promise for the future.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What is this, Michael? The Protestant Reformation? That somehow we're going back to the purity of the original Christian church? We're going back to the original perfection of slaveholders and how perfect they were and government is the enemy. She speaks pure Tea Party lingo.
MICHAEL STEELE: Well, she's like the Council of Trent for the Catholic Church.
MATTHEWS: Right. What is it she's going back to the purity of the old days?
STEELE: She's not going back to the purity of the old days.
MATTHEWS: Yes, she is.
STEELE: It's reminding us of some of the foundational principles.
STEELE: What? Slavery?
MATTHEWS: Well, that was in the original founding principles.
STEELE: Please, Chris. Stop. Stop jumping in. You know that's not what this is about. And the reality is, when I became chairman of the RNC in 2009, I inherited a party that was lost. Its moorings not anchored as they once were. And, so, you've have candidates now who have emerged out of the last two years who understand by going around the country and listening to the people what some of those foundational issues are for them. Let me speak to that.
MATTHEWS: Okay, let's take Michael at his word. The foundational issues: Government is bad.
DAVID CORN: Right..
MATTHEWS: Government is bad. She's in the government, by the way. She's paid by the-
STEELE: Well, who best to talk about this?
[Matthews on Wallace wondering if Bachmann is a "flake."]
MATTHEWS: I think he hurt her feelings there. A very human moment there, I know Michele Bachmann a little bit as a human being. Forget the arguments we have here. Let's go on, because I think Chris Wallace in his favor was trying to use the language other people were using. It wasn't his thought, but it came across as his thought and that's why, after the show ended, Wallace apologized for the question he put. And I know how you get in these situations. Not exactly this way, but he got in it this way.
— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.