updated 7/31/2006 12:22:25 PM ET 2006-07-31T16:22:25

Guests: Ann Coulter, Elizabeth Dole, Lynn Sweet, Chuck Todd, A.B. Stoddard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Wild show tonight.  We‘ve got three serious wars going on, we‘re got 50,000 people dead in an Iraq conflict that threatens to end in civil war, a rocket war in Lebanon and Israel that threatens to include Syria, and an American battle to hold on to Afghanistan from a retake by the Taliban. 

And we‘ve got a war of words coming from conservative flame-thrower Ann Coulter right here. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to HARDBALL, coming to you tonight from HARDBALL Plaza in Washington.  We‘re surrounded by people out here enjoying this hot summer night in the Capitol. 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  The temperature is already 90 plus, and that‘s before our first guest, conservative firebrand Ann Coulter gets here. 

And later, in a rare television appearance, Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina will be here.  You remember her a presidential candidate, but now her job is to get more Republicans elected to the Senate—to hold the Senate for the Republicans, I should say.

And we‘re talking to the people tonight.  You‘ll see them out here. 

We‘ll talk to some of the folks you‘re looking at right now behind me. 

But first, the latest on the Mideast crisis.  We begin in the Southern Lebanon town of Tyre, and NBC‘s Richard Engel. 

Richard, any sign this war is slowing down? 

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Absolutely not.  In Tyre today, the airstrikes, I must say, were not as heavy today as they were yesterday, but there was still a consistent pounding from the air and from the Israeli artillery in towns in Southern Lebanon, further south than we are right now. 

Today, we went to one of those villages, the village of Tibnine.  Normally there are 5,000 people there.  Now there are only 300 and they are all living in a hospital.  These are the poorest of the poor, holed up in a hospital.  Some of the people we spoke to came there walking.  One woman who had just given birth, she he walked four hours on the same day that she had given birth to come to this hospital, which is now not much better. 

There is very little food, electricity goes on and off, there were people sleeping on the floors, so it is a situation that is something of desperation.  According to the mayor we spoke to today, there are normally about 275,000 people living in this city and in the outskirts.  He reckoned that about 200,000 of them have left, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Are they moving north to the area around Beirut and does that threaten the Christian community with it being overwhelmed by the Shia? 

ENGEL:  There are certainly concerns about that, and we heard reports that there are some Christian villages that are not accepting some of the Shiite refugees heading north.  Now this would be a very potentially explosive situation in this country that had so many years of civil war. 

That—those reports when they were first broadcast on the Arab media caused something of a panic in Lebanon and something of a panic in the Lebanese government, which actually called the Arab networks and told them not to report the story. 

So there is this concern that all of this population movement, with Shiites moving into Christian—more Christian areas in the north, could inflame some tensions that had been dormant at least for the last several years. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the latest on an Israeli occupation and how long it will last along the southern border of Lebanon? 

ENGEL:  People here are preparing for a very long and potentially bloody offensive.  That‘s why everyone is leaving.  There is no real clear sense at this stage how far the Israelis will come in a ground war.  So far, they‘ve been stationed just pretty much in those areas right along the Israel-Lebanon border, but have continued with artillery and airstrikes further on. 

But people here think that this will last, the hot phase of the fighting, several weeks at least, but they‘re not basing that on any kind of intelligence, but they certainly are stockpiling and are preparing for what could be a very long fight. 

MATTHEWS:  Brutal news.  Thank you very much, Richard Engel of NBC in Tyre. 

Let‘s go right now to Cyprus, the island, and MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson. 

Tucker, what‘s the latest on the emigration of people from Lebanon? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, we were some of those people today.  We left courtesy of the United States Air Force.  Before we did, Chris, I had the experience in the final five minutes I was in Lebanon, that kind of sums up that country for me.  I went into the gift shop at the hotel we were staying in to buy a newspaper, and what for sale on the counter did I find but condoms, prophylactics. 

Now why is this significant?  I‘ll tell you why.  It‘s an Arab country.  Any Arab country in which condoms are sold in the gift shop of your hotel is a very liberal Arab country, and that‘s what we want in this world.  Democracy, it seems to me, works in some cases. 

In other cases, it produces Hamas, but liberalism in the broadest sense, tolerance for pluralism, for genuine general diversity of ideas, that‘s the thing the Middle East needs.  That‘s the one thing Lebanon has.  It has a gay bar in downtown Beirut, and that is the thing that is really in peril of being destroyed by the current conflict. 

I‘m not blaming anyone, I understand Israel‘s position completely, and I‘m not endorsing Hezbollah, obviously.  However, in all of this, I think the parties need to keep in mind, if you destroy that liberalism, that whole region becomes a lot more dangerous to us, America. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody in America, I think, loves Beirut.  A lot of people have relatives from there, Christians—Maronite Christians all over the place, especially in you‘re Catholic like me.  Is there a danger that that Christian part of Lebanon will be destroyed? 

CARLSON:  There is a huge danger, and by destroyed, I mean it will move to Michigan in larger numbers than it already has.  We ran into, at the American embassy today, Christian Lebanese on their way out.  That is good for America.  They‘re great people.  It‘s terrible for Lebanon. 

The reason Lebanon is a liberal country—and I‘ll be totally blunt about it—it has a very large Christian population, which is itself liberal by the standards of the region, but also makes the other—the Muslim populations or at least the Sunni population, more liberal.  So you need them.  They are the salt of the country and we‘re in, I think—seeing potentially another exodus of these people. 

Moreover, if I could just make one quick editorial comment, where is the support from international Christian groups for these Christians, for the Lebanese Christians, for the Syrian Christians, one of the poorest Christian groups in the world?  You hear nothing about them.  They live in poverty, they‘re oppressed—Pakistani Christians.

Around the world, there are Christian populations in places you wouldn‘t imagine in the Muslim world who are really spit upon and Lebanon is one of the very few places where they live in freedom and prosperity, and if that were to change, that would be a disaster for the region.  People have not thought this through.  That would be terrible not just for Christians, but for everybody it would be bad. 

MATTHEWS:  And I think it would be bad for the Jewish state as well.  If Israel loses a moderate nation on its border with a diverse population including, as you say, moderate Christians, they‘re screwed. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they are.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you very much, Tucker Carlson with us now. 

In HARDBALL Plaza is columnist Ann Coulter.  She‘s the author of “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.”  Now, I want to know right off the front—we‘re going to use our audience in a very profane way.  Who loves Ann Coulter? 

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I love you, Ann! 

MATTHEWS:  Who vomits at the mention of her name? 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why she‘s a best-seller.  You are a controversial lady, you write beautifully.  You have a brilliant brain. 

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “GODLESS”:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I stayed up last night reading your chapter on Willie Horton, which was absolutely stunning it its satire.  It reminded me of the young George Will. 

COULTER:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  The question I have is, do you have a soul?  I mean, really?  I mean, look at the way you make fun of people, because not everybody is tall and lanky. 

COULTER:  From the Willie Horton chapter? 

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  I‘m asking you a question.  You call Mike Dukakis

now, you don‘t have to vote for Mike Dukakis.  You call him the “midget Greek.”  Is it his fault he‘s Greek? 

COULTER:  I think it was the Greek midget, but since you‘ve actually read some of the book ...

MATTHEWS:  I like the part of it ...

COULTER:  ...can we do something we haven‘t done on this book tour yet, and that‘s ...

MATTHEWS:  Right, but can you answer a question first?  Why did you make fun of the guy‘s ...

COULTER:  ... talk about the book than rather than the words I use? 

Can we talk about the book since you read some of it?

MATTHEWS:  Well, the problem is the way I read, is I go by the words.

COULTER:  It would be so refreshing. 

MATTHEWS:  I go by the words.  Why would you make fun of a guy‘s ethnicity and their height? 

COULTER:  Well, how about the idea of the chapter?  The point is that Michael Dukakis is the alpha and omega of liberal approach to crime, which is held in defiance of the facts, almost like it were a religious belief and that is to always release the perpetrator. 

The Willie Horton case is an especially good example of liberals‘ capacity to create a myth when the truth will destroy them.  It wasn‘t a racist issue at all.  It was the greatest campaign ad of all time.  It was a very important issue.  Michael Dukakis was responsible for furloughing a vicious murderer who had been sentenced to life in prison with parole. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, you‘re saying it could have been a white guy in that ad? 

COULTER:  I‘m quite sure the Bush campaign desperately wished it was a white guy, but it was too important an issue not to bring up and, in fact, as we all know, Al Gore did bring it up first and Democrats didn‘t think it was so racist to bring it up back when Al Gore was running against Bill Bradley years later. 

MATTHEWS:  It is an argument you can make, and by the way, you may be right.  Who knows?  You‘ve got to keep surveying that ...

COULTER:  Of course I‘m right.  That‘s why you want to talk about what I call Michael Dukakis. 

MATTHEWS:  No, no, no, because you‘re saying you find ethnicity wrong to use ethnicity in campaigns.  Why do you attack a guy for being a midget Greek?  Why do you call these people “swarthy Muslims.”  Why do you make fun of peoples‘ complexion?

COULTER:  Well, for one thing, your premise is wrong.  I mean, I don‘t know whether you do or don‘t ...

MATTHEWS:  You do in the book. 

COULTER:  No, my point is, I didn‘t say—you‘re claiming my big point is you should never use ethnicity in a campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh.  So it‘s OK to make fun of people‘s complexions? 

COULTER:  Well, but that isn‘t my point.  I didn‘t say one way of the other.  My point is ...

MATTHEWS:  You said “swarthy Muslim beasts.”

COULTER:  We are just going to talk about what words I used, and not the get the ideas. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I‘m just trying to figure out your—look, you‘re brilliant.  You can choose any vocabulary word you want to. 

COULTER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  You chose these words. 

COULTER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And here something—we‘ll get off the vocabulary.  Let‘s talk about the women, the wives about people killed in the World Trade Center.

COULTER:  Oh, something new and different. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ve had them on the program.  We like them.

COULTER:  Of course you have.

MATTHEWS:  “And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren‘t planning to divorce these harpies?” 

COULTER:  Right, yes.

MATTHEWS:  How do—why would we think they were ready to divorce them?  Why would you suggest that?

COULTER:  That‘s not the point.  I will answer your question.  I would suggest that because their sole platform for demanding that we have a 9/11 Commission for cutting campaign commercials for Kerry, for having an opinion on this, is that their husbands died.  If that‘s your sole basis for your expertise, well then that becomes a relevant question, now, doesn‘t it. 

MATTHEWS:  Why—why do you raise the possibilities that they were planning to be—

COULTER:  It shows the absurdity—I‘ve just explained it.  It shows the absurdity of their expertise.

MATTHEWS:  Their husbands can‘t speak anymore, they‘re dead.  They‘re victims.  But you‘re speaking for them.

COULTER:  Yes, and this illustrates the absurdity of their expertise. 

Their expertise is based on having a relative who died. 

MATTHEWS:  What expertise do you have about the condition of those marriages? 

COULTER:  That‘s not the point. 

MATTHEWS:  It is here—I‘m reading from it.  You said don‘t quote your words.  I‘m reading whole sentences. 

COULTER:  I think everyone else understands my point here. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you appealing to the jury here?

COULTER:  Yes, because I‘m going to keep saying the same thing to you and you‘re going to keep pretending not to understand. 

MATTHEWS:  Are there any midget Greeks here?  Any swarthy people that want to defend themselves?

COULTER:  If the sole basis of your expertise is who you were married to—

MATTHEWS:  Your book is beautifully written, but you choose ethnic language.

COULTER:  -- then it becomes relevant, doesn‘t it, whether or not their husband were going to divorce them.  That shows how absurd it is to make yourself an expert or use someone as an expert because her husband died. 

COULTER:  But the book is written so well, and then you get to these points, it‘s like you said, now I‘ll put it in.  If I put the shiv in now, this book will really make noise and people like me will complain about it and you‘ll sell another 100,000 copies. 

COULTER:  Right, because I need help selling books and I need more money now. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not the money.  It‘s success.

COULTER:  Look—I mean, that is the most—of all the complaints about this book—

MATTHEWS:  I never said money, I said success.  It sells books.

COULTER:  That is still the most absurd complaint made against me.  Liberals have spent eight years trying to prevent me from being published, even writing a best seller, I couldn‘t get my second book published.  No one in New York would publish it.  Newspapers won‘t carry my column.  I promise you, you want to have success in America, don‘t be a conservative. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re doing very well.  By the way, your books are doing very well.  And we‘ve had you on every time you‘ve had a book.  And I think we‘ve always gotten along, so let‘s not ruin it.  Okay?  Let‘s move on.

COULTER:  No, you never had me on for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” 

Or “How to Talk to a Liberal.”

MATTHEWS:  A failure in our booking.  But I definitely remember “Treason”—that was a remarkable evening.  I enjoyed it.

Let me ask you about your mind-reading ability.  You knew these husbands were thinking about dumping their wives.  How did you know—

COULTER:  No, I didn‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me read you—“and by the way, how do we know their

husbands weren‘t planning to divorce these harpies—“

COULTER:  Seriously.  I think not only—we hand out to the TV audience—just randomly ask anyone here if they get the point that it shows the absurdity of the alleged expertise. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me he ask you this—let me read you this question, posed by the author here, and ask you if it doesn‘t in fact question the marital stability of these wives who lost husbands in 9/11.  “And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren‘t planning to divorce these harpies?”  Is that a personal shot, yes or no? 

AUDIENCE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s move on.  Come here, you.  Come here.  Who‘s your girlfriend?  Grab the mic.  Who‘s your girlfriend? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who‘s my girlfriend? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m confused. 

MATTHEWS:  You got a girlfriend?  She‘s planning to dump you, according to her.

COULTER:  They like to ask a lot of personal questions, these liberals.

MATTHEWS:  You think it‘s fair to go after the marital stability of a guy that died in the World Trade Center—you think it‘s ok? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t think that was her point. 

MATTHEWS:  What is—well, read it to me.  Read it to me aloud.  I don‘t want to confuse you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren‘t planning to divorce these harpies?”

MATTHEWS:  “These harpies”—does that add to the knowledge of this discussion?  Does that help us understand?  Perhaps they are having a liberal agenda.  I agree with you:  they may have a liberal agenda.  They may not be typical at all of the wives that lost husbands or husbands that lost wives.

COULTER:  I don‘t think so.

MATTHEWS:  They have a point of view.  But you have no knowledge of the marital condition of those people. 

COULTER:  Right, and what makes them experts and the reason you have them on every night is because of who they were married to.  So the basis of their expertise is so absurd, I am illustrating that by saying, this would kind of punch a hole in it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get off the marriages; it‘s too personal.

COULTER:  Right, because everyone in America understands my point but you. 

MATTHEWS:  You have knowledge beyond my ability.  You can speak for mark without a pole (ph).

COULTER:  It isn‘t knowledge.  It‘s a logical point. 

MATTHEWS:  You have a book that‘s going to do fabulously—it‘s already doing fabulously—and it will do more because of it being on this program.

COULTER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Jack Murtha.  I‘ve known the guy 30 years.  Jack Murtha has always been a pretty pro-military guy.  In fact, when you needed help on the Hill when I was working up there, you went to Jack Murtha on appropriations or procurement.  Jack was an inside guy at the Pentagon.  He was one of the inside guys.

You say he voted to give the president authority to go to war in Iraq so that he could attack the war later.  How do you know that was his strategy?

COULTER:  No, what I went through in the section on Murtha was how he‘s always cited, as you just cited him, as hawk, pro-military Democrat, when he‘s been opposing—every six months, he‘s having this Damascus Road conversion.  I had no idea the road to conversion was so long. 

MATTHEWS:  But you said that he had in his mind a strategy of supporting the war so he could come out against the war later.  I don‘t know how can you know something like that. 

COULTER:  Read the chapter, or read the paragraph. 

MATTHEWS:  I did—I read the whole thing.  I read this openly.  I don‘t know how you can read the mind of Jack Murtha to say he was—it was all a set-up. 

COULTER:  I‘m not reading anyone‘s mind, I‘m going through how he keeps taking a position and then turning against it and gets celebrated (ph) in the Washington Post, saying—Oh, what a shock, this—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to come back and talk about more with this brilliant writer.  A brilliant writer—we‘ll be back with Ann Coulter.

And later we‘ll talk about the fight over keeping Ambassador John Bolton at the U.N.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re outside on HARDBALL plaza, with conservative commentator Ann Coulter. 

Let‘s go now to the big picture of, if you were president right now.  Not a commentator, but you really had to take charge of all the consequences of your opinions.  Would you like that? 

COULTER:  Oh, I would—

MATTHEWS:  Would you like the job of running the country if you could get it? 

COULTER:  If I could just be emperor, yes.  I wouldn‘t want to run. 

MATTHEWS:  Just be named it, right—no running for office.

What do you think, if you look at the whole Middle East situation, after it‘s developed over three years—

COULTER:  I would apologize for Harriet Miers and my stand on illegal immigration, but other than that I would be very proud. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you are nonpartisan.

Let me ask you about this:  It‘s really gotten confusing.  We have Hezbollah on one side, which are Shia, we have Shia on our side in Iraq.  We catch the guy in a crosswind the other day, and he doesn‘t know which side to play to.  Does he play to the hill or does he play to the people back home?  Has this gotten too complicated, what we‘ve done in Iraq and what‘s developed since—probably somewhat independently on the northern border of Israel?  What would you do?

COULTER:  No, I don‘t think it is complicated, unless you think the only man we‘re at war against is Osama bin Laden, which has been the position of the Democrats.  In fact, America, America‘s interests and America‘s allies have been under relentless attack from various brands of Islamic extremists since 1979.  This, what‘s going on right now, reminds us, we‘ve been under attack by Hezbollah, by Islamic jihad, by al Dawa—

Americans have. 

9/11 didn‘t start it, so this business about, Where is Osama, Where is Osama -- (INAUDIBLE).

MATTHEWS:  You did  a good job on that in your web site the other night.

But one question:  do you think looking back, going into Iraq, occupying Iraq, putting 140,000 troops in there and basically getting stuck holding that country was good for America? 

COULTER:  I absolutely do and one thing I couldn‘t elaborate on in the column, because I have a word limit, was the point in the middle of the 30 years of attacks by various Islamic fanatics was the amazing cease to that after Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, because the Soviet Union was a big sponsor of Islamic terrorism and that‘s when you had, on a smaller scale, but still a big scale, with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  Yes, I think that‘s a crucial part of the war on terrorism. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it might have been helpful to the Shia, who are now have a crescent, which they enjoy from Beirut now through Baghdad to Tehran, that the ascendancy they‘re achieving right now over the Arab world, it‘s getting kind of frightening to the Sunnis, do you think that‘s more dangerous than Saddam Hussein or less dangerous, because we have removed an obstacle to that growth? 

COULTER:  I don‘t really think it‘s Shia-Sunni.  I think it is various groups of Islamic fanatics, and yes, depriving them of a crucial sponsor, Saddam Hussein, and also letting the other Arab leaders in that world, or leaders in the Middle East, see that we will act and George Bush doesn‘t care what the “New York Times” says, I think has gotten a lot of them to shut up and give up their nukes, as with Qadhafi, by the way. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you ...

COULTER:  No, no, no.  After the invasion of Iraq, Qadhafi, his people are asking British officials, is he going to come after me next and who does Qadhafi go to say I‘m giving up the nuclear program?  He didn‘t go to the U.N.  He went to George Bush to say I‘m giving up the nukes. 

MATTHEWS:  He wants the oil deal, right.  He wants to make money.  He wanted back in the oil circle. 

COULTER:  And before these leaders with crazies like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad only had to worry about the crazies in their country.  You know, what‘s the path of least resistance for them, as in Saudi Arabia.  Well, now they‘ve got to look at the great Satan as something that‘s bigger than the Islamic crazies. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re right.  The one thing the administration did very effectively was say we know you want back in, we know you‘re willing to pay your way back in with a big indemnity to the families, we knew that, but in addition to that, one more thing, get rid of the nukes, I agree with you on that part.  I‘m not sure what the stick part, but the carrot worked.  Let me ask you about the two countries we do go to bed worrying about at night because they could hit us.  What would you do if you were president right now, again the question, in dealing with North Korea? 

COULTER:  For one thing, I‘d go on TV and point out to Americans, this is why you have to go into a country like Iraq before Saddam has nukes, and I don‘t want to hear a lot of whining about oh, he didn‘t have nukes ready to go.  No, North Korea is kind of a pickle now, isn‘t it?  I don‘t have the intelligence, I don‘t know what they know, about how far along North Korea is, but it‘s a much bigger problem. 

MATTHEWS:  How about Iran.  It‘s a closer danger in the Middle East, because you have Israel, you‘ve got Saudi Arabia, very fat targets. 

COULTER:  That‘s when you have someone crazy who is claiming they‘re building nukes. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you do there? 

COULTER:  You want to go in and take them out.

MATTHEWS:  What do you do in Iran, if you‘re president? 

COULTER:  I don‘t know what they know, but I would not be averse to military action and I know people keep saying ...

MATTHEWS:  A strike against their nuclear facilities.

COULTER:  People keep saying, you know, that the nuke, the material

itself, it can be hidden in caves, we can‘t find it.  We could take care of

Iran so they couldn‘t build a transistor radio.  Who cares if they have

nuclear material

MATTHEWS:  So you would bomb them into the Stone Age?  

COULTER:  Maybe. 

MATTHEWS:  You would, really, as president?  

COULTER:  It‘s either that or have a lunatic sitting on top of nukes, if that‘s what my choice is, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Take him down.  Let me ask you about the name of your book “Godless.”  Is that a metaphor or is it real? 

COULTER:  It‘s real. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you really believe the Democrats are godless? 

COULTER:  Yes, I think liberalism has taken on all the attributes of a religion, they advance by denying that they‘re a religion and it is a godless religion. 

MATTHEWS:  When go to church and I don‘t go every week, I see Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, people go to church, Hillary I guess goes to church.  Why do you think they go to church in little towns where nobody sees them?  Because you can always, Catholics of course, if you‘re Catholic, you can skip, because nobody knows what church mass you went to.  Why do they go if they‘re godless? 

COULTER:  Well it‘s striking that a lot more Democrats go to church depending on their proximity to elected office. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they go for that? 

COULTER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well I can tell you, you‘re wrong.  Nobody knows they‘re

there.  They‘re little towns.  Little towns  

COULTER:  But they will do everything in their power to promote sucking the brains out of an unborn baby. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying they go to church to fake it?  You mean like Ted Kennedy goes to church to fake it?  I‘m asking.  You say they‘re godless.  You‘re saying that Democrats are godless because they what?  How many Democrats are godless?  How many are?  10,000? 

COULTER:  Very small group of practicing Catholics for partial birth abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  How many Democrats are godless out there?  It‘s your book. 

Can I talk about the title of your book?

COULTER:  I don‘t know, I‘m trying to convince the ones who are not godless to leave that party. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s see.  Name a godfull Democrat. 

COULTER:  You always want to make this personal.  I‘m talking about the ideology of liberalism. 

MATTHEWS:  Your book is personal. 

COULTER:  It is the church of liberalism. 

MATTHEWS:  I just want you to name godfull Democrats.  Name ones that you like. 

COULTER:  They‘re trying to wrap this up. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s our director.  Let me ask you this.  Now you have an automatic applause.  By the way, Tammy Haddad, vice-president of MSNBC right over there.  Let me ask you this, give her he a hand.  No, really, I don‘t know how you can say that all these people in the country who vote Democrat year after year are godless. 

COULTER:  No, you‘re missing the point.  It‘s that liberalism is a religion and it‘s a godless religion.  People who believe in God, who are still voting Democrat, ought to read my book and ought to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean Martin Luther King, who was out there working the religious issue on civil rights, using his cloth, was a godless man? 

COULTER:  Right, isn‘t that curious that you have to go back 50 years to come up with a Democrat who provably believes in God. 

MATTHEWS:  You believe that Hillary Clinton is godless, Bill Clinton is godless, every Democratic candidate for president is godless, right?  It says it here.

COULTER:  You keep turning it into a person.  I‘m describing liberalism as a religion.  Yes, I think it is a godless religion and anyone who believes in God, if they knew what liberalism stood for as for sucking the brains out of little babies, would flee the building, and she definitely wants you to take a break. 

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, we‘ll be back with more with Ann Coulter. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m back in heaven.  I think I‘m on college tour again. 

This is the University of HARDBALL.  Here we are.  We have Ann Coulter. 

Look at her.  The picture of heaven.  All brain, no heart.  Just kidding. 

OK.  Let‘s go now to the first question. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  HI, if we‘re fighting Islamic fascism in the war on terror, I‘m wondering if we can American Muslims to fight the war on culture in the United States. 

COULTER:  I‘m not sure what you mean by that. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They tend to be socially conservative like against abortion and against gay marriage. 

COULTER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you want to respond to that? 

COULTER:  No, I agree with her. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wanted to ask about the polarization in the country.  It seems to me that you use a lot of rhetoric, what you write, and that people just get angry, they get the emotional side of their brain, and they completely lose track of the argument you‘re trying to say.  Why don‘t you just drop the theatrics, I mean Chris even did it when he talked about the midgets, and it‘s like drop the theatrics and make your arguments and people will remember ...

MATTHEWS:  I know, even Chris won‘t argue about the arguments of the war.  I don‘t know. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People will understand what you‘re talking about. 

You know what I mean?

COULTER:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  After five massive “New York Times” best-sellers, I think I‘m doing just fine. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But do you really think ...

COULTER:  What am I supposed to say?  Why don‘t you write differently. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s the thing.  They just buy your books ...

COULTER:  Apparently they are with five massive “New York Times” best-sellers. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They just buy the books, though, to, you know, what‘s she saying.  I‘m going to watch this now.

COULTER:  OK, let me write in a more boring fashion—OK, maybe I‘ll

you try that. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you want some advice? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s that?

MATTHEWS:  Never argue with someone whose life depends on not being convinced. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But do you think you serve your country best by being a critic an choosing words that tend to inflame and overshadow any information? 

COULTER:  Apparently, it‘s not overshadowing any information.  That‘s kind of a loaded question.  Do you think you‘re serving your country by writing rotten books?  Well, I don‘t think I write rotten books.  I think they‘re very influential and if liberals didn‘t think they were influential, they wouldn‘t keep investigating my private life to find out if I‘m into ... 

(CROSSTALK

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not saying they‘re not influence.  I‘m saying it tends to alienate large groups, and your ideas might actually carry more weight otherwise. 

COULTER:  Yes, OK, you don‘t like me. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your private life.  How do you know that Bill Clinton is gay? 

COULTER:  He may not be gay, but Al Gore, total fag.  No, I‘m just kidding.  As someone ...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s based on your private life? 

COULTER:  No, that‘s a joke. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, OK.

COULTER:  That‘s what we call in the writing business a joke.  No, I mean, I state a manifestly obvious fact.  Someone pointed it out on Free Republic, I think, a little disgruntled yesterday.  Ann‘s amazing capacity is to state the obvious and make it news.  I mean, everyone has always known wildly promiscuous heterosexual men have, as I say, a whiff of the bathhouse about them. 

MATTHEWS:  But you know, you were on—I was watching you on Deutsch last night.  I watched it because it‘s all over the blog sites.  You were immortal in that interview, by the way, and you said it because you were sort of pushed to say it.  I just wonder if you believe it. 

COULTER:  This is standard ...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a joke.  It‘s a joke.  It‘s not a joke. 

COULTER:  It‘s not only not a joke, it‘s not even surprising.  If feminists were not so in love with Bill Clinton—this is like standard—for any feminist with the benefit of something beyond a community college education, this is standard feminist doctrine that wild promiscuity shows a fear or hostility of women.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you here it—thanks, Ann.  You‘re great.

COULTER:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  You heard it here, Ann Coulter.  By the way, she‘s back by popular demand.  And get this right, that was not a joke.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We‘re out here enjoying the First Amendment at HARDBALL Plaza with the controversial Ann Coulter. 

Let‘s get some questions for Ann and her new book, “Godless: The Religion of Liberals.”  First question. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, Ann.  I‘m just wondering how you can call yourself a Christian or even look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and use words like the ones you‘ve just used to describe Al Gore.  Just curious.  Go. 

COULTER:  Which Biblical command does joking violate?  And you‘re a big Christian I‘m guessing. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think pure hatred violates, spewing hateful rhetoric violates a lot of Biblical commands. 

COULTER:  Yes, no.  Well, I‘ll try to adopt your charm. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good luck. 

MATTHEWS:  So just to straighten it out for the record, because people

check these things, Ann.  Your word is taken seriously.  The joke or the

reference you made about Bill Clinton being some kind of raging

heterosexual, therefore a homosexual, that logic is not a joke?  That‘s for real?

COULTER:  It‘s manifestly obvious and not contested by anyone except when you‘re a defending and love Bill Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  But the one about Al Gore is—but the Gore—but you‘ve got to delineate these things.  Is Al Gore being the guy that you said he was, is that description ...

COULTER:  That was a joke. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, good.

COULTER:  Thus the audience laughed except Little Miss Smarty Pants here. 

MATTHEWS:  For that comment, she gets a followup. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know what, I guess there‘s not a lot else I can say to convince you, so that‘s fine. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Sir?  Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ann, I wanted to know, how do you face opposition from minority groups when sometimes they take your comments out of context and also, what do you think about sometimes when opposition says things like, for instance, Indian-Americans or other groups like that? 

COULTER:  I actually—I mean, I have not gotten that much opposition from minority groups, especially on this book tour and, in fact, I just cited—sorry Chris, my favorite liberal, Michael Eric Dyson, is the one liberal I‘ve now done two long interviews with, who asks me about the content of my book and not the words I use. 

And I was the first conservative speaker in a historically black college this year, Philander Smith.  I haven‘t particularly gotten much opposition from minority groups.  I get a lot of opposition from liberals. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But, like, what do you think about, like, when liberals say things about like Indian-Americans working at 7-Eleven or ... 

COULTER:  Oh, a Joe Biden reference.  Well, that‘s funny, but it‘s not as funny as Howard Dean placing the Book of Job in the wrong testament.  Another one of those God-believing Democrats of yours, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well they‘re not of mine.  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi.  I‘m curious, what do you think about South Dakota‘s abortion ban and the fact that voters have gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in November to hopefully be overturned? 

COULTER:  I think it‘s magnificent.  I‘m in awe of the voters of South Carolina.  I mean, it is  ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  South Dakota. 

COULTER:  South Dakota. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  How many here would like to outlaw—just do it now.

COULTER:  Whoever does it.

MATTHEWS:  Make it simple, outlaw abortion where you live.  Who would like to do it?

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  How many people would not like to do that?

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  That doesn‘t make it right, by the way.  That‘s just an opinion.

COULTER:  And it will probably not be upheld, because we don‘t have five votes now.  But that‘s what I love about it.  They‘re just going to keep sending it up and sending it up.  It shows you the rage of the voters. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And has Israel‘s attack on Lebanon weakened Hezbollah or only glorified its cause? 

COULTER:  No, as a general matter, I believe in attacking the enemy and being kind to your friends, which is the reverse of the liberal policy of being kind to your enemies and attacking your friends. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How does a chicken farm in the east in a Christian town qualify as attacking terrorism? 

COULTER:  I gather you‘re talking about the collateral damage. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right. 

COULTER:  Yes, OK.  That happens in a war.  Not as much as happened in World War II and we don‘t have to worry about speaking German or living under Nazism now.  Sorry, that happens in a war.  That‘s why it‘s called a war. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to get your thoughts on Kofi Annan this week, basically coming out and demanding that Israel abide by a cease-fire, funded by the U.N., but meanwhile, Kofi Annan, after three years of Muslims beating down the black Muslims in the Darfur area, all Kofi Annan has done is stood there and claimed that there will be meeting after meeting, they take out the word ethnic cleansing and then we‘re being lectured from liberals about hatred when I remember in 1994 when we had a liberal congress and a liberal president, they did nothing about Rwanda. 

COULTER:  Right, Kofi Annan and the U.N. peacekeepers have done a terrific job keeping the peace, and as you know, Israel mistakenly bombed some of them a few days ago.  I think most Americans are looking at that and hoping they can hear about the installation on 42nd street. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you, Ann.  Thanks for coming on.  And a smart lady, her book is called “Godless,” sometimes being smart isn‘t enough for civil discourse.  We‘d love to have her back. 

Up next, North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole will be here on HARDBALL.  She‘s in charge of Republican efforts to keep control of the Senate.  We‘ll ask her how things are looking right now.  I don‘t think they‘re looking to good.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Senator Elizabeth Dole, of course, chairwoman of the national Republican Senatorial Committee.  She‘s responsible for keeping power in the Republican hands.  Every body seems to think that the House might go Democrat, if there‘s a tsunami.  Is there any chance the Senate will go Democrat after this election?

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE ®, NORTH CAROLINA:  We‘re going to keep the Republican majority in the Senate.  We‘re going to keep the Republican majority.  We‘ve got a great group of challengers as well and you know, I‘m just very, very pleased with our recruiting and it‘s going to be, we‘re going to keep the majority. 

MATTHEWS:  If you like President Bush, should you vote Republican? 

DOLE:  Say that again. 

MATTHEWS:  If you like President Bush and the job he‘s doing, should you vote Republican? 

DOLE:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  How about if you don‘t like the job he‘s doing, should you vote Republican? 

DOLE:  Yes.  Let me tell you why.  Because of a number of reasons. 

First of all, tax relief, no question, it‘s been driving our economy.  We‘ve got 5.6 million new jobs since August of 2003.  I love the fact that home ownership is at a record level, and minority home ownership, and of course, you know, just being able to have more money in your own pocket, your own hard earned dollars, and of course, in terms of safety and security.  Certainly this president and this party has been out front in keeping our country safe. 

MATTHEWS:  In the history of mankind, do you think our decision, the president‘s decision to invade and occupy Iraq will go down as a smart move? 

DOLE:  I do indeed and I‘ll tell you why.  Because, first of all, Saddam Hussein, the whole world thought that there were weapons of mass destruction.  The intelligence, Republicans thought it, Democrats thought in the United States, the Israelis, the French, the British.  You‘re going to take the word of a madman?  I mean, you know he had violated I think it was 16 U.N. resolutions, torture chambers, rape rooms, mass graves.  He was harboring terrorists, he was paying families of suicide bombers.  So you know, yes, and I think that people believe yes, they want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but I think they want to finish the job.  To finish the job. 

MATTHEWS:  What does that mean? 

DOLE:  Finish the job means that we ensure that there will be

democracy, a stability in Iraq.  In other words, what the terrorists want

more than anything, their worst nightmare

MATTHEWS:  Who are the terrorists?  What do you mean by terrorists?  That word gets used a lot rather promiscuously.  Do you mean everybody who‘s fighting the government there is a terrorist?  If the Sunnis don‘t like us, Shias take over.  If the people that don‘t like us there? 

DOLE:  Let‘s look at al Qaeda and the folks who ...

MATTHEWS:  Five percent of our enemy is al Qaeda, 35 percent is Iraqi. 

DOLE:  Chris, let me tell you something.  There are those who want to see democracy defeated because they want to be able to use that area as a haven to destabilize the Middle East, perhaps attack the United States again, and to take over.  This is, I‘ll tell you ...

MATTHEWS:  Sorry, I can‘t interrupt anymore. 

DOLE:  I‘ll tell you what the definition is.  Radical Islam fundamentalists.  They want to take over the, you know, that area and they want to attack from there.  And ...

MATTHEWS:  Every military man we have on this show says 95 percent of the people we‘re fighting are not those people, 95 percent of the people we‘re fighting over there are Sunnis who don‘t want a takeover by the majority Shia.  They‘re nationalists fighting our outside influence.  They are not outsiders from some other country.  They are Iraqis fighting a takeover by the Shia, who now run Iran and run Hezbollah.  Wouldn‘t you fight the Shia if you were an Iraqi? 

DOLE:  You know what I want to tell you.  I was the first member of Congress who had the pleasure of meeting with the new prime minister, Maliki.  He has brought together in his national unity government, religious groups, ethnic groups, political groups, and what he‘s trying to do is to establish a strong democracy. 

You look at the fact that 70 percent voted for him, there has been progress in terms of the political scene, in terms of the economic scene, the income has doubled in the last three years.  He‘s trying to get the security forces trained more quickly and I‘m proud to support him and our president and I think that clearly what we‘re doing is we‘re on offense there so that we fight there, rather than fighting here in the United States.

MATTHEWS:  Why do the majority of the American people don‘t think what you say is true, right now, what you just said? 

DOLE:  I think that what we need to stress is that, just as Maliki did, Prime Minister Maliki, in his joint session yesterday, he stressed the fact that Iraq is the key to winning the war on terror.  And Iraq is the central battleground in the war on terror.  So I think it‘s very important for people to understand that, but I believe that the American people do feel that we need to complete what we‘re doing there. 

MATTHEWS:  So think we have fewer terrorists out there now than when we started this war? 

DOLE:  I‘m not the one to be counting terrorists. 

MATHEWS:  OK, because I think there are more out there against us because of this war, but thank you.  I‘m out of time. 

DOLE:  We‘re not going to talk about what I came to talk about, . 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Senator Dole.  Please come back.  I love your family and your husband.  Say hello to Bob. 

DOLE:  I will, thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, the HARDBALLers will be here in HARDBALL plaza to talk about the hot races for “Decision 2006.”   And much more.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘ve got the HARDBALLers.  (INAUDIBLE)  Lynn, I want to ask you this, when you have a senator, a guy running for the senate out here in Maryland, about a mile away from here, who is saying it‘s like having the scarlet letter if you are running as a Republican this year, is it that bad? 

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Well, you know, it‘s rare you get a candid remark like that, but I think that he accidentally spoke the truth, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Chuck?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “THE HOTLINE”:  He is Maryland.  Let‘s be realistic, it‘s a blue state, yes, it‘s a scarlet letter even in a good Republican year. 

Well, Bush‘ numbers there are about the same as they are in Missouri. 

TODD:  Look, it‘s not good.  A lot of these guys their first name is congressman and their last name is Republican, and that‘s not a good thing to be. 

MATTHEWS:  This year?

TODD:  This year.

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Yes, you have Deborah Price in leadership, Roy Blunt in leadership, Tom Reynolds in leadership.  All advertising themselves as good honest Americans that you should elect and they don‘t say they are Republican. 

MATTHEWS:  Republicans used to be like that when we were growing up.  I remember Republicans never said Republican, and they just said good candidate. 

TODD:  Jim Talent‘s first out of Missouri was it‘s not about a Republican, it‘s not about Democrat. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, here is a number, an objective number in the new NBC, “Wall Street Journal” poll.  Only 38 percent of the public in this new poll believe that their own congressman or senator should be reelected, the one they got and that‘s the lowest number since 1994 in the summer when we had the tsunami of all the Republicans coming in.  Again Lynn. 

SWEET:  And here is what is different about that.  Often you might have a big national number that one party or the other, in general, would answer the question who should control Congress, but usually people, more than a mere majority, like who their member is, that people are discontent with their member isn‘t good, especially for a Republican party where the House campaign is based on running a district by district campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  Is the Republican party finished this time around in the North East?  Anywhere north of here in Washington, are they finished?

TODD:  That I do.  I think eastern Pennsylvania is a killing field, Connecticut could be, though the whole Lieberman/Lamont think might screw that up, but this could be this in 2008 might be the one that cleans out the Republicans in the northeast. 

MATTHEWS:  Well that‘s interesting because Chuck and Amy that could mean we could see such a realignment of the parties, the odd effect of that will be to make all Republicans, basically, southerners and rural people.  It will kill the suburbs in the northeast and even the Midwest against Republicans.  And we will have like regional parties then.  

STODDARD:  We are not sure where the losses are going to be, because we really don‘t know if we have the makings of a tsunami.  I mean if you look at 1994, Clinton fatigue, high taxes, health care, gun control.  You look at now, the Middle East is burning, grass is $3 a gallon, and war in Iraq that won‘t end. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you say grass at $3 a gallon?  

STODDARD:  I meant gas. 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  What is the recipe for a tsunami and then that will break up the map. 

MATTHEWS:  Well let‘s talk about the Democrats because we have given them too easy a time already.  If you ask people if they favor, after all these numbers, I want minimum wage up, 5 to 1.  I want stem cell research, 7 to 1.  All the issues on the Democratic side except peoples‘ taste, they don‘t like the taste of a big Democratic come back, if you look at these numbers, Chuck? 

TODD:  Yes, I think the true problems with Republicans and Democrats are people don‘t like what Republicans have become and don‘t know what Democrats stand for, and I think that‘s what they are uncomfortable with is that they don‘t know what they are going to get. 

SWEET:  Sometimes you this anybody is better than what I have got syndrome.  It doesn‘t matter what they stand for.  I think there‘s too much emphasis on that Chuck.  What do you want a ten point campaign map?

TODD:  No, but it‘s the independence.  There is a slice of independence that I think the casual voters, they‘re not going to show up. 

MATTHEWS:  But Lynn has made a point that‘s historically correct.  I mean going back to ‘46, all the Republicans had to say to take back the Congress after 30 years was, had enough. 

SWEET:  Change, that one word. 

MATTHEWS:  Change became and that‘s always worked.

STODDARD:  I think this is about Iraq.  I don‘t think it‘s about who is holding the Congress.  I think it‘s an energized anti-war middle, can‘t wait to get to the polls and they want to go and vote about Iraq. 

TODD:  I don‘t know if they‘re going to vote in ‘06.  I think they‘re going to vote in ‘08.  I just don‘t know if the anti-war middle is going to be anxious enough to go to Democrats. 

MATTHEWS:  You get up in the morning election day, this November, three months from now.  What gets you out of bed.  I have to go vote before I go to work today.  What animates you, it‘s going to take an extra half an hour with line.  I will do it because I have to do what.  Do Republicans feel like getting up early to go vote, or the Democrats, I want to get that S.O.B.  I‘m going to teach him a lesson.  We‘re getting out of that damn war.  

SWEET:  In midterm elections you have, this is the extra ingredient you have to put on there Chris, you have these very local races, it‘s midterm.  If you don‘t have a big Senate race in your in your state, which a lot of them don‘t, and you don‘t have a big House race, these local races might get your juices going.  

MATTHEWS:  Lynn Sweet thank you, Chicago Sun-Times.  Chuck Todd of “The Hotline” and Amy Stoddard of “The Hill.”  And last but not least, the woman who made this all possible today and is the heart and soul of HARDBALL, my executive producer, Tammy Haddad has been promoted to vice-president of MSNBC.  All of us here want to congratulate Tammy.  We‘re all thrilled for her.  A great person.  Play HARDBALL with us Friday.  The hot shots will be here.  Right now it‘s time for Tucker.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com) ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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