Can you believe it, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow joked with Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater -- George W. Bush, along with George H.W. and Laura Bush, have been lined up as speakers at Get Motivated! seminars.
The conversation on Maddow's show Tuesday night dripped with condescension, as if to say -- what losers!
Not surprisingly, both Maddow and Slater neglected to mention something that many viewers, even Maddow fans, might consider newsworthy -- the younger Bush is the sixth former president snagged by Get Motivated! to speak at their popular seminars.
Fortunately, this oversight was duly corrected by Maddow's first guest the following night -- Get Motivated! co-founder Tamara Lowe. Here's how the conversation went --
MADDOW: The Get Motivated! business seminar now features George W. Bush (wagging finger for emphasis). He will be speaking at their event on Monday in Fort Worth, Texas along with, among others as you can see here, the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, and our next guest, Tamara Lowe, executive vice president of Get Motivated! Seminars Incorporated.
Miss Lowe, you are a busy and in demand person. I really appreciate your taking time to join us tonight.
LOWE: Thank you, Rachel, great to be with you.
MADDOW: What do you expect President Bush will be speaking about? Do you expect that it will be a political speech?
LOWE: Usually the former presidents who speak for us, and President Bush will be our sixth former US president to speak at the Get Motivated! seminar, typically they will share their experiences of their time in office and the things that they learned, the challenges that they faced.
In the discussion that ensued (which can be seen here in its entirety), Maddow told Lowe that after the previous night's segment, she received "a raft of unsolicited emails" from viewers who had attended Get Motivated! seminars. The correspondence revealed a "striking consistency," Maddow said, from those who considered the seminar "essentially as a money-making event" with sales pitches interspersed between the main speakers --
MADDOW: It's not billed that way and they're very cheap to attend, but I wanted to ask you to address that perception that this is an event at which people will be expected to sign up for other things that will cost them a lot of money.
LOWE: No, that's not the case at all. I mean, we do have other seminars that we offer for people who want to continue their education, if they want to learn about various things like how to start a business or how to invest their own money, things like that. But it's certainly not required. It's simply offered as a service for people who would like that.
MADDOW: That perception, because it is widespread, and I take your point that it's not meant to be the overall purpose of Get Motivated!, that is what makes it surprising I think that you've had so many former presidents ...
So "surprising," in fact, that Maddow did not mention it the night before, nor did guest Wayne Slater, a Dallas Morning News political reporter who has also written a book titled "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential."
What isn't surprising is Maddow's initial oversight, through incompetence or deliberate omission, the latter more likely, seeing how Maddow is so bright and all. The rationale? A convenient way to diminish Bush. Disclosing that every other former president since Nixon has also spoken for Get Motivated! -- as have Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Netanyahu, Muhammad Ali, Christopher Reeve and Hank Aaron -- runs the risk of suggesting Bush belongs on the same stage. Better not risk it at all.
Through the rest of the segment, Maddow tried to rattle Lowe, who remained poised and refused to take the bait. The conversation ended with Maddow suggesting "this isn't a comfortable interview for you," a notion Lowe rejected, telling Maddow "I'm very comfortable and very happy to be on your show, big fan."
Much of a stretch to see a motivational speaking gig in Maddow's future?