Date: October 30, 2007. Place: Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Event: Democrat debate.

We all know what happened. Tim Russert asked a couple of tough questions of Hillary Clinton, one about whether she’d support releasing some HillaryCare-related documents and the other about whether she supports giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. They were fair questions, but she whiffed both and the latter turned into a mini Waterloo. In case you want to revel in it again:

Media Matters, which denies carrying water for Hillary Clinton even while carrying a bunch of front-page items that carry water for Hillary Clinton, rides to the rescue in the pages of leftwing mag The American Prospect. Here’s the article, dated October 31 — the day after Hillary’s debacle. It’s written by Paul Waldman, described in the byline as “a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.”

Waldman spends several fiskworthy paragraphs cherry picking at Russert, insisting that Russert’s blue collar act doesn’t make Waldman feel more represented (which probably says more about Waldman than Russert or anyone else) before finally getting to the coup de grace. Such as it is.

The two parties’ nominees will be decided three months from now, and we can be sure that in that time, at least one or two candidates will have their campaigns upended by the answer they gave to an absurd question, delivered by Tim Russert or someone like him, about what their favorite Bible verse is, or whom they want to win the Super Bowl, or what kind of beer they like. “Aha!” the reporters will shout, as though they actually unearthed something revealing on which the race for the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth should be decided. The one whose tiny little mind devised the question will be praised to the stars for his journalistic acumen.

And they’ll continue to wonder why so many Americans are so cynical about our electoral process.

Don’t you see, voter cynicism is all Russert’s fault! It’s not the lying politicians or their tendency to ignore the will of the voters on things like giving privileges to lawbreakers. It’s not their head-in-the-sand attitude on the war or their failure to rein in spending or just stop squabbling like 3-year-olds for five minutes. It’s all Tim Russert’s fault for asking “absurd” questions that get right to the heart of national security and the meaning of citizenship, that “upend” a candidate that, surprise!, helped found Waldman’s employer, Media Matters.

Thanks for clearing that up, Paul!

More: I find that if you’ve watched the above video 3 or 4 times and it starts to get old, adding a laugh track puts a little pop back into it. Comedy sound effects a la the Three Stooges work too. Tipster Edgar sends along a link to this video, which contains the quote that was the genesis of Russert’s question. Either Russert or his research staff is good — this clip puts a whole new face on “obscure.”

I neglected to mention in the main body of the post that this “attack Russert” strategy is coming straight from the Clinton campaign. Clinton’s grass roots supporters are particularly vexed at the though of their queen having to answer real questions for once.