A pretty good night for McCain. He really caught a break with President Bush, who I thought came across far better as a chief executive on the job than he would have if he’d actually been in the hall. Bush was at his charming best and stayed on message, making it about McCain instead of himself. Discordant note: his out-of-context reference to “the angry left.”

What got into Fred Thompson? If he’d been this energetic and folksy during his presidential campaign, he might have gotten someone outside his immediate family to vote for him. I agree with David Gergen, who said on CNN that Thompson was unusually effective in talking about McCain’s experience as a POW, but no doubt angered Democrats with his distortions* (my word, not Gergen’s) of Obama’s stands.

It was pretty funny to follow Thompson’s hyperpartisan attacks with Joe Lieberman’s call for bipartisanship. Lieberman was a considerable upgrade over Zell Miller, the then-Democratic senator who made a fool of himself at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Lieberman took a couple of shots at Obama, but you had to laugh with some appreciation at his success in getting Republicans to clap for the Clintons.

I also enjoyed the smirk firmly planted on Lieberman’s face as he praised Sarah Palin.

*And, as Josh Marshall points out, a damn vicious distortion in at least one case.