Chris Matthews, once again, abandoned any notion he was serious about establishing a new tone of political civility in the wake of the Tucson shooting, as on Wednesday's Hardball he compared former Speaker of the House and possible GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to a terrorist as he screeched "He looks like a car bomber" and even described him in demonic terms, adding: "He's got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing."
The following Matthews rants came during a discussion about possible GOP presidential contenders with the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page and The Huffington Post's Sam Stein on the March 2 Hardball:
(video, audio and transcript after the jump)
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this thing, they're starting to fire people over at Fox because they're just trying to double-dip. They're trying to go both ways now. Newt [Gingrich] and [Rick] Santorum are clearly running right now, Clarence. I think anybody else on the list ready to jump in? I don't think Newt's a factor. How many times he been married? I mean I just think this whole experience with Newt - you can't just wipe the board clean and say, "That wasn't just me that got kicked out of the Speakership" for totally embarrassing the country with ethics in his personal life. I mean how can he walk back and in and say, "That wasn't me?"
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well this is Newt's time to run, though. I mean the party's base is fired up. He's always been probably the leading fundraiser out there, at least before Sarah Palin came along. He has a good shot at winning the nomination. Winning the general is a whole different matter. But this...
MATTHEWS: But he looks like a car bomber. He looks like a car bomber. Clarence, he looks like a car bomber. He's got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy! I mean this, this is not the face of a president.
PAGE: But don't kid yourself, Chris. We in the media, we in the media love Newt, though. Because he's just a sound bite machine. You talk about a gaffe-maker. I mean and he's very affable. You know he, he just can't stop talking and saying what's on his mind, which we in the media love. There's not a media primary out there, but he'd win it.
MATTHEWS: Well do you think? Look Sam [Stein] do think this guy's mien, his presentation, is a little too Mephistophelian? A little too frightening for people, to be a presidential candidate? Don't you have to sort of have to like the guy first, before you vote for him? Just a thought.
MATTHEWS: You know this car bomber reference is very clear to me. I have this notion of a guy, it's obviously not a car bomber. But this guy that he kind of loves the attack. He gets a thrill, Clarence, out of going for the opponent's mid-section and hitting him so hard and getting delight in the attack itself. Is that a winning proposition for a presidential candidate?
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here