Dan Rather sets sparks flying in a showdown with the Vice President

In the curious, often unruly marriage between politics and television, there are certain charged moments that flicker in the national memory. Richard Nixon tense and sweaty debating an unruffled John Kennedy. Ed Muskie's frozen tears in the snows of New Hampshire. Ted Kennedy groping for meaning and a verb in an interview with Roger Mudd. Ronald Reagan squaring his jaw and asserting, "I'm paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!" Who cares that the man's name was actually Breen? It was great television.

Such moments supposedly provide insight into a hidden reality. In a flash they divulge the inner self, the man...

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