"Not once can I remember him being truly mean" when doing his shtick, Hardball host Chris Matthews gushed of Stephen Colbert during the "Let Me Finish" closing commentary for his December 18 program. Matthews was effusive in praise as he noted Thursday night would see the final edition of The Colbert Report before the comedian takes over the reins at CBS's Late Show from David Letterman.
"In a business where killing an audience is a way of saying you had a good night in comedy, he made us happy, always happy, always feeling just a tad elevated because the dunce he was playing was so hilariously out of it, stubbornly, hilariously out of it," Matthews added, diving headlong into leg-tingle territory by "thank[ing] Mr. Colbert for being so good, so good to us, so good, if I'm not being too pompous here, for our country."
Does Matthews not recall the 2006 White House Correspondents Association dinner which Colbert emceed? The liberal comedian savaged President Bush and conservatives in a decidedly hard-nosed comedy routine that violated the cardinal rule of WHCA dinners: the night is about poking fun and ribbing both sides of the aisle, not shoving a knife in the president and twisting it.
At the time, of course, hard-left pundits snarled that conservatives and offended liberals and moderates were just humor-deficient, but there's no denying that there was a cold reception to Colbert's performance in the house itself nor that Colbert's style was a marked departure from the ethos of the evening, wherein humor is largely self-deprecatory and the jabs at the president sometimes sharp but always good-natured -- regardless of the political party of the occupant of the office or the president's personal shortcomings.
But, hey, you be the judge as to whether Colbert was a) funny and/or b) mean. Attached below if Colbert's bit from the 2006 WHCA dinner. Below that, you can watch Matthews's full December 18 "Let Me Finish" commentary: