Sad news today, as former Democratic Senator Zell Miller passed away. But here at NewsBusters we choose to honor the Senator from Georgia – who wasn’t afraid to go against progressives in his own party – with a fond memory of him challenging Chris Matthews to a duel. That’s right, a duel. The back-and-forth took place during the 2004 Republican National Convention, where Miller was scheduled to be the Keynote Speaker. 

CNN American Morning co-host John Roberts took a gratuitous shot Tuesday at former Democratic Senator Zell Miller, who a lot of liberals haven’t forgiven for delivering the keynote address at the last Republican convention in 2004. After a guest observed that Republican Jim Leach on Monday “did not give a compelling speech compared to say Zell Miller,” Roberts snarkily observed: “Well, Zell set his hair on fire and ran around the room.”

Back in 2004, when Roberts was reporting for the CBS Evening News, he also scoffed at Miller’s decision to speak at the GOP convention: “Call him disillusioned conservative Democrat or turncoat, it’s the sort of remarkable about-face Miller is famous for.”

When Georgia Republicans ran an ad against former Senator Max Cleland, which included a photograph of Osama bin Laden, attacking the Democratic Senator's numerous votes to apply labor union rules to the Homeland Security Department, liberals were outraged as they claimed the ad was an attack on the "patriotism" of war hero Cleland. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann expressed outrage by mentioning the attack on Cleland several times in the last few years as he claimed that Cleland was "cut down," "sandbagged," "blindsided," "cheap shotted," "mugged," "hamstrung," and subjected to a "hatchet job," in part because of the inclusion of the bin Laden photograph.

But Olbermann himself recently employed a photograph of Osama bin Laden as he teased a story contending that "John McCain's top guy [Phil Gramm] on the economy made it easier for bin Laden," and charging that Gramm was "on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11." The MSNBC host has also accused McCain of "betraying" U.S. troops, and has suggested that McCain does not "understand [the] risk and sacrifice" of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, and that he has "abandoned" them. He even went so far as to suggest that McCain has ulterior motives for supporting an extended U.S. presence in Iraq because he supports "war-profiteering" by U.S. firms who would benefit. And Olbermann once mocked McCain as "awol" during as Senate vote because he was at a fund-raiser "supporting himself instead of the troops." (Transcripts follow)

The fellow synonymous with "Hardball" showed his soft side today. Interviewed by his wife to help mark the show's 10th anniversary and promote his new book, "Life's a Campaign,"Chris Matthews was frequently emotional as he talked about everything from his heroes [including JFK, Churchill and Hemingway], his drinking days and his admiration for John McCain's patriotism.

In contrast, Kathleen Matthews, a former TV news anchor, exuded a composed professionalism. A nice, cool balance to Chris's fire, it seemed.

Later, John Kerry reminded us of what we didn't, shall we say, necessarily love about the guy.

View video here.