Chris Matthews had his opportunity to offer remembrances of his colleague, Tim Russert, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, and used it to give an anti-war screed. Even worse, he made Russert out to be a dupe bamboozled by the Bush administration while presenting himself as a superior journalist. Just watch it:

Even Keith Olbermann knew better than to go there, changing the subject quickly after Matthews’ rant. He provided a moment of irony later when the two most biased “journalists” on television heralded Russert’s objectivity as if they understood what the word meant. Neither Olbermann or Matthews could carry Russert’s shoes, and Matthews in particular proved why last night.

One might be tempted to give Matthews a pass, as the shock of his friend’s passing had to be hard on him, and one could see the pain. However, Matthews makes clear that he deliberately chose to make this point, leading with, “This might be tricky,” and later saying that he had spent two hours preparing for the delivery of this anecdote. The choice of casting Russert as a dupe within hours of his death was deliberate.

Scott Ott, the master satirist, notes that real life provides its own satire in this case:

The Hardball host’s live shot from Paris last night gave vivid illustration to the expression “like a belch in church.”

Asked by a justifiably teary-eyed Keith Olbermann to reflect on the sudden death, Mr. Matthews professed his love and admiration, calling Mr. Russert “everyman”, a “true patriot”, “Mr. America” — by which he meant that the Meet the Press moderator had supported the Iraq invasion because of the trumped-up threat of nukes. …

It’s hard to fathom a soul so craven that he would use a eulogy to resurrect his timeworn attack on the stagecraft of the Bush administration. But the overflow of Chris Matthews’ darkened heart also spilled onto the rest of us ‘patriotic Americans’ who were fooled by what Bush-Cheney Inc. was “selling.” In a nutshell, we’re all just a bunch of hard-working dopes like Tim Russert.

I think this illustrates the depth of NBC’s loss yesterday, and our own.