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Shafer V. Matthews

Jack Shafer, perhaps as some sort of new alternative sentencing program, watched Chris Matthews throughout Inauguration Day and produced one helluva lede:

Nobody in TV news stir-fries his ideas and serves them to the audience faster than MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Drawing from a larder filled with old anecdotes, unreliable metaphors, wacky intuition, and superficial observations, the always-animated Matthews steers whatever's handy into the hot wok that is his brain. The sizzling free-associations skitter through his limbic system, leap out his mouth, and look for a resting spot in the national conversation, where they steam like fresh lava in untouchable heaps.

Anything can set Matthews to cooking, but nothing summons his inner chef like a National Event of Great Importance such as yesterday's inauguration. If you watched MSNBC's coverage, you understand why Keith Olbermann wears a body apron and totes a fire extinguisher whenever they co-host: to keep the flying grease from setting his suits aflame.

The endless string of Matthews anecdotes, unreliable metaphors, wacky intuition, and superficial observations that Shafer then produces--all gleaned in the span of just one day!--is pretty memorable, too. And I say this as a (sheepish) Matthews fan.

--Jason Zengerle