Living in the DC area, Chris Matthews has surely been stuck in traffic more than once behind someone sporting the classic NRA bumper sticker: "If Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns." Was Chris was listening too intently to NPR to consider the the truth of that pithy aphorism? You might think so, considering his anti-gun rant that seemed to assume that criminals, rather than law-abiding citizens, will obey restrictions on gun ownership.

On this evening's Hardball, riffing off Mitt Romney's Second Amendment defense during last night's GOP debate, Chris took aim at National Review's Deroy Murdock, a Giuliani backer.

View video here.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) confronts Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) during Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, January 21, 2008.

The biggest news out of last night's GOP debate could be the hit taken by John McCain's reputation for straight talk.

For whatever reason, McCain chose to deny the undeniable: that on more than one occasion he has admitted not understanding the economy as well as he should. When the debate ended it took MSNBC no time to document the record. And a bit later, in the post-debate coffee klatsch, Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman unloaded on the Arizona senator for his fudging.

View video here.

The Republican presidential candidates will be debating tonight in Florida. The event is hosted by MSNBC, click here to watch it online. Discuss the debate here or in the live chat.

Thankfully the Matthews-Olbermann moonbat brigade is not moderating tonight: Brian Williams and Tim Russert are.

It's quite a sight to behold when media "has-beens" start drinking the doom and gloom Kool-Aid offered up in the media.

Sam Donaldson, who covered the Reagan White House for ABC and who now is a contributor to the network's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," last night told a gathering in Georgetown that the U.S. economy is going "in the dumper" and criticized the Democratic presidential candidates for not capitalizing on it.

Donaldson also finally explained why he yelled at Ronald Reagan all those years when he was the White House correspondent [Audio] and compared Sen. Obama to a "kewpie doll" in his reticence at hitting back at Sen. Clinton. [Audio]

Not that there was much doubt, but let's make it official: MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is firmly in the Obama camp. The capper came during today's opening segment of Morning Joe. After Chris Matthews offered a plausible explanation for Obama's "present" votes in the Illinois senate, David Shuster used an apt metaphor to describe Barack's less-than-trenchant rhetorical style.
DAVID SHUSTER: It's in Barack Obama's interest to say it as sharply as you [Matthews] just did, and his inability to sort of navigate in these debates, like the giant aircraft carrier trying to make a turn. If he could make the point as simply as you just did he would be fine but the way he's trying to explain and defend everything, it's like a guy who skis down a hill who makes these wide, swooping turns, and after awhile, you know, that's not, you don't get down very fast that way.
That's when Mika made her allegiance unmistakable.

You don't suppose NewsBusters has become Matt Lauer's guilty pleasure; one having a salubrious effect on his thinking? The Today co-anchor this morning suggested an MSM double-standard on the Dem and GOP races and acknowledged the success of the surge.

Matt's guest during the first half-hour was Tim Russert, impressively fresh despite red-eyeing to NYC after moderating last night's Nevada debate. Lauer, after playing clips of the candidates' take on Iraq, suggested that the war is no longer the winning issue the Dems once thought it was.
MATT LAUER: How much of a tightrope are they walking with the apparent success of the surge over the last couple months, how difficult is it for these Democratic candidates to score points on Iraq right now?
View video here.

Rush Limbaugh called out Old Media for playing favorites in the GOP presidential race. He was, as usual, dead-on correct.

Audio is at Hot Air.

The transcript, which will remain available at Limbaugh's site until next Friday, is here.

Here is the first portion of what he had to say (bold is mine):

The New York Times's Michael Cooper and Michael Luo covered the Republican debate Thursday night in Myrtle Beach, S.C., hitting the theme of a "faltering" Fred Thompson, lashing out in a desperate bid to salvage his campaign.

See updates for Huckabee, Thompson responses to this story at bottom.

Scratch Joe Scarborough from the list of those praising the performance of Fred Thompson at last night's South Carolina debate hosted by Fox News. With panelists Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski in supporting roles, the Morning Joe host went off on Thompson today with stunning vitriol, deriding him as "Freddie boy" "pathetic," a "lapdog" and a "hatchet man" for John McCain.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Last night it was so painfully obvious that Fred Thompson went to John McCain yesterday morning [affecting deep Thompsonesque voice] "if I can stay awake through this debate, I'll attack Huckabee for you."
View video here.

Just in case anyone doubted it . . .

From today's Morning Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The press corps, for the most part, there are exceptions, loathe Mitt Romney. And the press corps loved to see all of the Republicans [at the ABC debate this past Saturday night] kicking the tar out of him, and they were all sitting there smirking. But I thought it was too much. I think if you're sitting at home in New Hampshire, you sit back after a while and you say, first of all, why does John McCain hate personally so much. But secondly, why are they all attacking Mitt Romney? He must be the guy with the ball; he must be the guy who's ahead.
View video here.

Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.

Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.

View video here.