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Sparks Fly Between MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews Over 'Big Monster' Gov't: 'Do I Really Need to Go Back to Civics Class?


"George Bush and Dick Cheney, they were evil.

Photo Credit: MSNBC

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough clashed with fellow network hosts Chris Matthews and Mika Brzezinski on Wednesday over government surveillance and critics who once derided President George W. Bush -- but who now remain silent or supportive when it comes President Barack Obama's enhanced data collection.

"The government's always lied to us," said Scarborough -- a comment that spawned a heated debate.

Photo Credit: MSNBC

"Well I'm always skeptical -- I'm surprised you used that word government like it's ... some monolithic thing we have nothing to do with," Matthews said, noting that the American people elect politicians and are, thus, a part of the process.

The two proceeded to debate over government, with the "Morning Joe" host claiming that too many people line up behind the commander-in-chief -- regardless of who he is -- to comply with whatever he wants (in this case, enhanced surveillance).

But rather than a massive collective working together, Matthews countered that every government agency is at war with the next and that each body has its own culture and politics.

"To say the government, Joe, just like you said -- it's all one big monster -- is just not true and you know it," Matthews added, chastising Scarborough.

The former Republican politician didn't take too kindly to this characterization of his words, getting agitated over the notion that he was accused of calling the federal government "one big monster."

"What does the term 'government' mean to you?," Matthews asked.

"What the government means to me is three branches -- do I really need to go back to civics class?," Scarborough responded, going on to explain, in detail, what he meant by his initial comments.

In responding to Brzezinski -- who also got him riled up when she mentioned the monster issue -- Scarborough noted the hypocrisy touted by those who critiqued Bush, but who are now giving Obama a pass. Here's a transcript of these words (as assembled by Mediaite):

“As the only Republican, I think, in this area code right now, it sure was hell as simple when George W. Bush was president. Everybody sure got the long knives out when George W. Bush was president … all of these questions were so simple, Mika. It was so black and white. George Bush and Dick Cheney, they were evil. Now suddenly, we’re launching drone strikes into countries, killing civilians, where we aren’t even at war … and we’re killing Americans, and suddenly everybody goes, ‘you know what, this is such a complicated thing.’”

Watch the clash, below (8:00):

(H/T: Mediaite)

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