updated 11/24/2008 4:21:07 PM ET 2008-11-24T21:21:07

November 20, 2008

Guest: James Gattuso, Ron Brownstein, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, Jeanne Cummings, Perry Bacon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trouble in Motor City. Let's play HARDBALL.Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews. Leading off tonight: Show me the money. Show me a plan. That's what congressional Democrats said about the big three auto bail-out. They said they'd come to Washington back in early December, they'd come back again and vote on the bail-out if GM, Ford and Chrysler come up with an acceptable plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Well, that's not quite right! Here's some advice for the CEOs. Next time you show up begging for money, don't fly in on your private jets. More on the $25 billion bail-out request in a moment. Also, check out this headline on the front page of today's "New York Times"-quote, "Bill Clinton said to accept terms of Obama team." I've said this before. Somehow, it's always about the Clintons. The Hillary "will she or won't she become secretary of state" story has turned into another Clinton soap opera. Who's doing the leaking? And when will it all end? Plus-and you'll love this story. Check out what they're debating in Minnesota in that Senate recount out there. Look at this. The Norm Coleman campaign challenged this ballot, insisting that the voter drew an arrow-see that little arrow? -- from their guy's ballot over to the Coleman name. Or how about this one? The Franken campaign challenged this ballot, saying what happens to-what appears to be an eraser mark next to Franken's name indicated that the voter intended to vote for Coleman. Democracy at work in Minnesota, where they really do take this stuff seriously, although some of the voters don't know how to do it. We'll show lots of those ballots to the HARDBALL strategists to see how they'd decide things. Also, as Barack Obama begins to put together his cabinet, there's been a glaring omission-Latinos. Some key Latino leaders have told NBC News they're concerned that Latinos will fail to get any major White House or cabinet positions. Does that sound right? Latinos voted for Obama 2 to 1. We'll look at that in the "Politics Fix." And on the HARDBALL "Sideshow" tonight, my appearance today on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." But first: Democratic leaders demand a plan from the big three and the executives. Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and James Gattuso is a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation. We got an argument here, and that's about whether the federal government pays $25 billion or whatever, in addition to the $25 billion they've already committed to help make those companies a little more green in what they produce in terms of cars. Pat, today, just to set the economic context, the Dow Jones is down to 7,500. The jobless rate in terms of unemployment claims is at the highest in 25 years this week. The S&P's lower than it's been in over a decade. It's bad news time. John Dingell, by the way, who's been representing the auto industry in the U.S. Congress for about a hundred years, was defeated for chairman of his committee. Lots of bad things are happening, not just to the auto industry. Should they get the money? PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they should, Chris, for this reason. I'm not against any kind of a plan and telling them to come back with something. You cannot give up an auto industry in a world where they're going buying and selling some 100 million cars a year in Europe, the United States, Asia, China, India. That makes it-you get rid of that, I think it's really the end of major manufacturing in America, and you cannot be a great power without a manufacturing base. The Japanese, the Koreans, the Chinese know that. That's why they practice predatory trade, taking down American industries one after another while we've got this free trade concept nobody really believes in but us.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Gattuso, what do you think?

JAMES GATTUSO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, look, no one is giving up on GM, Ford and Chrysler. Restructuring is what's needed to save these companies. Without restructuring, they have no chance. They've been chronically ill for decades. One bail-out (INAUDIBLE) bail-out may give them six months (INAUDIBLE) a year, but they're still going to be sick. They need to restructure. And another thing, look, there's no room for economic nationalism in the auto industry anymore. It's a global industry. I own a Toyota. I've had it since 2001. It was made in Tennessee. It's the best American car I've ever bought. Detroit-GM has 55,000 workers in Europe. One of the biggest auto companies in the world is the Renault Nissan alliance, which is headed up by a man who's half Brazilian, half Lebanese. The national labels here mean nothing anymore. This is a global industry that's good for consumers and should be kept that way.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... there's no value, sir, in having an American company that owns an American car company. There's nothing valuable in that. We don't-it doesn't matter, you're saying, doesn't matter at all.

GATTUSO: You know, there's a lot of Americans hired by foreign companies in Tennessee, in Alabama, across the Midwest. Look, if merely owning the car company ensured the success economically of the nation, Japan would be the healthiest economic country in the world right now, and they're not. It's America that's benefiting.

BUCHANAN: All right, Mr. Gattuso, If you believe economic nationalism is dead, how come the Koreans exported 750,000 cars to the United States last year and we exported 5,000 to them? How big a penetration do we have of Japan's market? In the 1950s, we alone made cars, and yet somehow, they built up a national industry and are destroying ours. How did they get control of 100 percent of the television sets in the United States of America? You think the Chinese are going to let American cars in there? They're already making more cars in Germany. And when they arrive, they're going to be taking down every single American industry or every single American country (SIC). The question is, Mr. Gattuso, do you care if that happens?

GATTUSO: I do care. I do care. I think Americans should have a choice of as many cars as possible, as many manufacturers as possible. And I think if GM, Chrysler, Ford reorganized themselves, restructure themselves, they can be more competitive. That's the reason that they're not doing well in the American market. Americans are choosing other companies to buy their cars from because those choices are better. We need to restructure these companies so that they can improve, so the Detroit-based companies can improve, not put it off with another subsidy.

BUCHANAN: But what foreigners believe in, Chris, is-what we believe in is what's-let's do what's best for the consumer now. They believe in doing what's best for the nation long-term. They've looked at how America grew up, protectionist-you know, protecting our market against British imports, assaulting the British empire, taking them over. Bismarck did the same thing. And they're doing to us what we did to the British empire. And for the life of me, I can't understand why Republicans who practice protectionism-it was in every platform from 1884 to...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: I don't understand this!

MATTHEWS: ... subsidies. Let's talk about this question. The issue on the table right now, as Mr. Gattuso knows and opposes, is the idea that the federal government should basically subsidize the auto industry, at least in the short term. We don't know how long, but give them a break.

BUCHANAN: I think...

MATTHEWS: And why is that important to you?

BUCHANAN: Because I believe it is vitally important that we have an auto industry and three major manufacturers of automobiles because that's going to be the future. Chris, all over the world, people are coming into the middle class. The one thing they're going to want is cars. Are we going to carve ourself out that because some foolish executives flew here in jets?

MATTHEWS: OK, is it important for America that people buy Fords than

by Camaros, buy us?

BUCHANAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Why?

BUCHANAN: It's better because a Ford carries in its price tag, Social Security, federal taxes, income taxes, local property taxes, and that Hyundai coming in here carries none of that.

MATTHEWS: Wasn't the auto that's made-isn't the Toyota that's made in America-I'm arguing this, I'm not sure of the bottom line. Don't they pay full taxation?

BUCHANAN: OK, here's what you do with the Toyota...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: ... the parts coming in don't, Chris. They're taking-a lot of these companies, they bring parts in from abroad. They assemble them here. You know why they put the plants here? Because Reagan cracked down on them and wouldn't let them come in, so they said, We better get a plant in there. If you use tariffs and non-tariff barriers and tell the Japanese, If you make your parts here and assemble them here and make the frames here, you can compete equally, I'll go with that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me make a point that Pat hasn't made. One of the reasons we were able to win World War II is we had this enormous capacity to produce things and we were able to convert from every industry we had to a war economy. One advantage of having an American steel industry, an American auto industry, an American train industry is that when you need to change it over, you've got it. Will we have that capacity, if we ever need it again, to reshape our industry into a war...

(CROSSTALK)

GATTUSO: We have the capacity. The factories are being built in America. Honda built a factory in Indiana. They opened it up just this week. If we restructure the Detroit-based companies, they will be healthy again, too, which is an important thing. I agree. That's a good thing. I want to help them. But look, given a choice between economic policies-Pat Buchanan mentioned the 1884 Republican platform. I would take the 1984 Republican platform, the platform of Ronald Reagan, of free trade, over the 1884 platform. Given a choice, I will take Ronald Reagan's free trade platform.

BUCHANAN: OK, Mr. Gattuso, let's take Ronald Reagan because I worked in the White House. He imposed quotas on motorcycles. He imposed quotas on steel. He imposed quotas on semiconductors. But when he saw industries -- he imposed quotas on cars. He was an economic patriot and a free trader both.

GATTUSO: And he opposed the Chrysler bail-out.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you both, what would be the consequences, Mr. Gattuso, if the United States government decides come December, they like the plan coming from Detroit from the big three and they chose to, quote, "bail out," close quote, that industry? What's the negative and positive consequences? Give me both.

GATTUSO: I think that will allow Detroit to put off its problems again. It will allow the chronic sickness in Detroit to continue, rather than be resolved. And look, I'm also concerned about any plan that's accepted by Washington. Detroit has its problems in running an auto industry. I think Washington would be even worse at doing that. It's a no-win situation.

MATTHEWS: What's the positive and negative consequences of a bail-out? Positive?

BUCHANAN: The positive consequences are the auto companies survive to come back when the market expands again, when this downturn is over, and we can do battle with them, just like Harley Davidson is now back in the fight. Let them die, and they never come back again, Chris. They're gone forever, just like McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed don't make commercial airliners, even though Airbus was subsidized by socialist governments for 25 years to kill them. And we let this happen.

(CROSSTALK)

GATTUSO: ... we're not doing battle with them anymore.

BUCHANAN: Listen, my friend...

GATTUSO: They're offering goods to American consumers.

BUCHANAN: Listen, my friend.

GATTUSO: They're choices for American consumers. You want to encourage that.

BUCHANAN: You say we're not doing battle. What do you call it when a Japanese company comes into this country to kill every TV company? Is that partnership? Is that just rivalry? This is what they're doing. They're predatory traders!

GATTUSO: I call it competition-I call it economic competition and it lowered the prices of televisions in the United States and it helped the U.S. economy and helped the U.S. consumer.

BUCHANAN: Why didn't we...

GATTUSO: I happen to appreciate being able to buy a television...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Why didn't they let American cars into Japan in the 1940s and 1950s? Why did they build up a brand-new steel industry, when we could have sold them all that steel? They weren't making any.

GATTUSO: Look, I can't speak to what happened in Japan in the 1940s. I do know that I was able to buy a Toyota seven years ago in the U.S. that's a pretty darn fine automobile was made in Tennessee. And I like that choice. It helped me. It helped a lot of consumers. And it also created jobs in Tennessee. That seems to me a good thing all around.

BUCHANAN: Well, let me ask you something. Look, we don't make any commercial ships now. We used to turn out four Liberty ships a day. We don't make commercial ships anymore. We've got one airline company left, Boeing. We've got three great automobile companies, which are on the line. The Chinese make computers. Their number one sale to us is in computers. Chris, all the things we made when you and I were growing up-shoes, furniture, toys, bicycles, motorbikes, cars-all these things are going abroad. Is it good for America when we lose manufacturing? We got more guys working in government now than in manufacturing.

MATTHEWS: My concern-my concern, James, is that we don't have jobs, heavy-lifting jobs for men and women coming out of high school. Not everybody's going to work on a keyboard. Not everybody wants to work on a keyboard. Some people want to do heavy jobs, and I'm wondering whether we're going to lose them all. And that's a big question. It's a social question, not just an economic-can we survive as a healthy economy, a healthy society, if everybody's expected to work on a keyboard or in a restaurant and nobody's working in factories? Don't we need factory workers to be a healthy society?

GATTUSO: Well, first off, in the auto industry, it's not a matter of losing factory workers to keyboards. It's, in large extent, losing factory UAW jobs for non-UAW jobs, jobs in Michigan for jobs in Tennessee or jobs...

MATTHEWS: You think that's a good change?

GATTUSO: ... in Michigan for jobs in Indiana.

MATTHEWS: You like having non-union labor? Is that a healthy thing?

GATTUSO: I think that there's no reason that a UAW worker should get total compensation of $70 an hour when the average American only makes about $25 an hour in total compensation. There's no reason...

MATTHEWS: Well, you negotiate for...

GATTUSO: ... the average American should have to pay...

MATTHEWS: ... your salary and they...

GATTUSO: ... for that UAW worker.

MATTHEWS: Sir, you negotiate for your salary at the Heritage Foundation or wherever, and they negotiate for the salaries and they're getting 70 bucks.

(CROSSTALK)

GATTUSO: Sure. And if Heritage didn't have the money to pay me, which, you know, I hope they do-but if they didn't have the money to pay me, I wouldn't go to the government asking for more money. I would have to take a cut in salary.

BUCHANAN: Heritage is completely-is completely subsidized. What do you produce, for heaven's sakes?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: You got all this money...

MATTHEWS: OK, we're not getting...

BUCHANAN: ... from these big, fat corporations...

MATTHEWS: I made a mistake in stepping into...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Mr. Gattuso, you don't have to explain your employment on this show. We accept it.

GATTUSO: OK. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anybody can make a wage coming on this show. Patrick, we got to let this guy go. We're going to after his-we're going after his food on the table, his tuition bills. Leave him alone!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Pat Buchanan, thank you, as always. James Gattuso, thank you for taking...

GATTUSO: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: ... the hit there. Anyway, up next: Is it really all about the Clintons? Why are we reading headlines like, quote, "Bill Clinton said to accept terms of Obama team" on the front page, top of the fold, left-hand side of "The New York Times"? Why is there so much information out there? Is it the former president's in some sort of, dare I say it, negotiation? Is it all about -well, we'll get more over this. It's a question. You know. Everybody's been here before. We know what this is like. We know how it works. We're back with the Clintons. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Will "No drama Obama" officially offer the secretary of state job to Hillary Clinton? Will she take it? When will this drama stop? Ron Brownstein's the political director for Atlantic Media and "Newsweek's" Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst. He's up there in New Hampshire. Howard, speaking of sports, I have to say, here's the front page of "The New York Times" today. Look at the headline. Quote, "Bill Clinton said to accept terms of Obama team." I mean, the papers for the last two days, "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," everywhere, there's all these back and forths about what people are saying the Clintons will accept or agree to do. There's talk of-maybe what should have been in the article, stuff in there about how much money they owe. I mean, what's this all about?

HOWARD FINEMAN, "NEWSWEEK," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a little bit like the Middle East peace negotiations, isn't it, you know. And I think that may be a prelude to what Hillary's job is going to be. I'm up here in Manchester, doing what I love to do, which is talk to New Hampshirites here in the state. And I think, based on the people I've talked to, both Republicans and Democrats, they kind of like the idea of Hillary as secretary of state. Don't forget she won here in the Democratic primary. The Republicans have a healthy respect for her political skill. They think it's a good idea, if they can work out the details.

MATTHEWS: Well, let's finish off on that one. Here's "The New York Daily News" today headline, "Team Obama thinks Hillary Clinton's people to blame for state speculation." We're back.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Ron, before we go on to the benign conclusion of Howard Fineman there, where this would be good for the people, why are we having this public dispute?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: In every news-don't put the game over when the game's not over yet. There's a game afoot. Why is it being done in public?

RON BROWNSTEIN, ATLANTIC MEDIA: First of all, I'm wondering, has anybody ever called you "No drama Matthews"?

MATTHEWS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: That would not be appropriate.

MATTHEWS: I would be offended if (INAUDIBLE) but this is a new-this is post-season stuff.

BROWNSTEIN: Because, first of all, you have large, unusually large entourages around both of these individuals at this point. There are very few potential cabinet officers who have kind of like a team Napolitano.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, this isn't the same thing. There are so many people that you can call who can offer an opinion, who may or may not be, in fact, informed as to what is going on. And second of all, look, there is a lot of hard feelings between these camps. They fought an epic race that divided the Democratic Party as closely as possible. They went through all 50 states.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: And not everything is healed. And, you know, this is kind of-this is an-in one sense, an extraordinary gesture. In another, as Howard said, it has a certain amount of logic, in that she might actually be good at the job.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Not clear that it would really make sense from her point of view to do it, but we will talk about that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me-let me go into this, Howard.

The articles in the newspaper concern Bill Clinton's business dealings worldwide, the big honorary he gets for speaking, a couple hundred thousand a pop, et cetera, et cetera, his friendships around the world, whatever he does for business. We don't know what it is, if there is a content to it. We don't even know what it is that he does around the world.

Ron Burkle relationship has been thrown into this thing.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Everything has to do with Bill Clinton here. And there he is on the front page of "The New York Times" saying, he's willing to come clean and to change his ways, or whatever it is. Why are we reading all this, and why isn't that conversation going on, sotto voce, between the two parties? Why do we know that the Clintons have named Bruce Lindsey, from the past, Cheryl Mills...

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... Doug Band, the Clintons' body man, all negotiating on what papers, what information they're willing to put out, and what they're not going to put out, or what they're going to hold in some sort of back-room relationship, where they can't give it to anybody, like one of those library things, where you get to read it, but not take it out of the room.

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: How much of this has to be in public? It's all in public.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris, I talked-again, up here in New Hampshire, I talked to a very shrewd Democrat who is an Obama supporter. And this person said, well, maybe one reason this is being done in public this way is to show everybody just why, despite the 18 million votes she got in the primaries, Hillary would have had a heck of a time trying to win the general, let alone be president, given the history of her husband. It's kind of...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: This is kind of a process where the wheat is being separated from the chaff here, where a lot of people think that Hillary's knowledge, her poise, her diplomatic skills, and her popularity around the world, especially with women, would be a tremendous diplomatic asset.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: But they have got to-it's kind of like a sheep-shearing here.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: They have got to get the Clinton-the Bill Clinton stuff out of the way, and they're doing it in this public fashion. That was this person's interpretation from up here. And they're pretty smart about what's going on inside the Obama camp.

MATTHEWS: What I don't understand is why anybody, including Barack Obama, wouldn't see this as a preview of coming attractions. Here's what will happen. She accepts the nomination for secretary of state. Two weeks from now, we will be saying, Hillary concerned that Barack drawing line on which appointments she can make. She will be the first secretary of state in history to want to pick all the assistant secretaries, all the undersecretaries, and the deputies. And if she doesn't get to make all those appointments, there will be noise about it in the newspapers, just like this, so Barack won't be able to do the usual selection of his people.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Well, we don't know exactly where that line will be drawn. But your general point...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, where it's always been drawn before.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: No, I was saying, your general point is right that, look, she is-as Howard said, she is a-she potentially brings a lot of assets to this job, but she brings something else, which is an independent persona, an independent power base, and the capacity to be someone who is, you know, not entirely under the White House thumb as much as other Cabinet secretaries. Having said that...

MATTHEWS: You make it sound...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: You might-you might have-you might have said that -

you might have said that about Colin Powell. And the fact is, the president is the president. And, ultimately, I think the challenge would be more for Hillary Clinton to work in harness with Barack Obama than vice versa.

MATTHEWS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why the president wouldn't be the president, necessarily, in this case. She has the ability, Bill Clinton does, to leak to "The New York Times." It's all over the papers today. It's over "The Wall Street Journal." I have never seen Democrats rely so much on "The Wall Street Journal" as a sounding board.

Howard, you read everything.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Aren't you amazed at the amount of noise level, chatter coming out of this one-person-to-one-person appointment? Why are we hearing about the negotiating team...

FINEMAN: Well, it's..

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... on the Clintons' side? Why are they all being-their names being put out? What's up?

FINEMAN: Well, it's very...

MATTHEWS: Why is this going on?

FINEMAN: It's very puzzling, Chris. It's very puzzling, Chris, and it's very un-Obama-like. I will say that the one thing that I think Obama has never figured out is the Clintons. He never figured out really how to deal with them and handle them in the primaries. He beat them, but barely. He-he never really figured out how to establish a true personal relationship. I remember being up here in New Hampshire, in Unity, New Hampshire, with-with-with Hillary and Obama. Boy, what a stiff event that was. He didn't get the best out of the Clintons, in terms of supporting him in the election...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... even though he won. He-they just-he just doesn't get them. He doesn't know how to handle them.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: He doesn't know what to do with them. I think he's trying to be nice here. He thinks he's being Abraham Lincoln. It could easily backfire-I agree with you, Chris-if in fact she takes the job or gets the job.

BROWNSTEIN: Howard, I would say that beating them is-beating her is-is one element of figuring out how to deal with them. I mean, he did he did...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: No.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: I think he comes into this-hold on-I think he comes into this from a position-the one in the position of strength on this is Obama. I think the Obama is bigger than any element of the Democratic Party now, and not unique to the Clintons, or Hillary Clinton, I think organized labor, I think kind of the Internet left, every element of the party. He has a great deal of independence to set his course. And I think that, even if he does put her in the Cabinet, I think there's no question who is in the power relationship-who is the power in this relationship, particularly in the party. I mean, he won 67 million votes, the first Democrat since Johnson to get more than 50.1. He is in a very strong position to impose his will, I think, not only in his government, but through the party more broadly. And we will see what he wants to do with that.

FINEMAN: Yes. But I-but-but I would just say that he's been very shrewd about husbanding his power. For example, he didn't want to pick a fight with Joe Lieberman. That was an easy one. Obama doesn't like to pick fights he doesn't have to. I agree, maybe if he can show if he can master the Clintons, it helps his aura, but it-it could cost him a lot in maneuvering and time to do it. It already seems to have. We're spending all this time talking about her and the Clintons...

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... not about him and what his plans are.

MATTHEWS: Well, I'm just listening to every smart person I know. And and they include David Broder. It includes Tom Friedman and David Ignatius. It includes a friend of mine.I call these people, and I say, what do you make of this thing? And everybody says, they don't get it. It may be the most brilliant-I don't know. Maybe he is the-maybe he's proving he's a Christian. Love thy enemy.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don't know what's going on here. There's something bigger than me. I don't get...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Howard, you're laughing. Maybe it's the ultimate proof of his religious beliefs.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Turn the other cheek? I mean, there's something going on here, guys.

BROWNSTEIN: It's not clear that it makes sense from the other director...

FINEMAN: Well, it could also be...

BROWNSTEIN: ... even from Hillary Clinton's side.

She is someone who could be a senator for life from New York, who is in a position to ascend to power.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you.

BROWNSTEIN: This is a job that what-how long would she be doing this? And she would still be serving at the pleasure of the president. And I think that is very different from being...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I find it befuddling.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And I think it get it. Being secretary of state in these times would be an awesome opportunity to bring peace to the world.

Anyway, Ron Brownstein-I mean, it-I really mean it about Barack.

He's-he's grand.

BROWNSTEIN: Good luck with that, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Ron Brownstein, sir.

Thank you, Howard Fineman.

FINEMAN: You're welcome.

MATTHEWS: Happy Thanksgiving, if I don't see you guys again.

FINEMAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: my appearance today on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

It was great-up next in the "Sideshow."

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."

This week, I was invited back by my friend Ellen DeGeneres to her program.

Here's some of my return today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, just to prove what happens on "Ellen" stays on "Ellen..."

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW": Uh-huh.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: ... have you done anything else since?

DEGENERES: Uh-uh, no.

(CROSSTALK)

DEGENERES: It's just talking about you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

DEGENERES: That's all I talk about, is...

MATTHEWS: That's great. You know, you fell. I tried to save you.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGENERES: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It didn't do any good.

DEGENERES: No, I know. You did the best you could. And I would have

I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I was going to go to jitterbug lessons with you, because I thought it would be great if we could work it out a little bit better than that.

DEGENERES: We should. We should join "Dancing With the Stars." We should go on...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: In your case, it's "Dancing with the Scars."

DEGENERES: Uh-huh.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGENERES: Listen, I think that you're terrific. You know how much I admire you and-and love you. And thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

DEGENERES: But we have had so much fun with this. And the audience has loved it. So, thank you for being a good sport.

MATTHEWS: Well, you're-you're great.

DEGENERES: We have...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: No, no.

DEGENERES: Listen, let's talk about-you-you called it exactly the way that this...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I did.

DEGENERES: This election, you said it would be exactly the spread that it was.

MATTHEWS: Fifty-two/forty-six, yes.

DEGENERES: It's amazing that you called it like that.

MATTHEWS: I think I got the Senate thing right, too, 58. Yes, I think I got that right, too.

DEGENERES: Amazing. And you must be thrilled. I mean, what a moment in...

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, I am thrilled.

DEGENERES: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: To Barack Obama.

DEGENERES: Yes, to Barack Obama.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, it's not the old politics of Karl Rove, and mean, and get even, and divide, and vengeance, and all that stuff. I think the country is in a mood for no more mean. No more mean.

DEGENERES: I'm in the mood for no more mean.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DEGENERES: No more...

(CROSSTALK)

DEGENERES: HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS airs through Fridays at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on MSNBC.

We're going to send someone to the dump tank after this.

Come back any time.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

DEGENERES: Any time.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What I love about Ellen, this show of hers is absolutely fit like a glove, perfect show for her. And those people out there love that lady. Anyway-it connects with people. Anyway, moving on, time now for the "Big Number." Fifteen days after Election Day, Missouri's vote tally is finally in. It shows-it turns out the state's 11 electoral votes will go to John McCain. Why does that matter? Well, it breaks Missouri's famed streak of picking the next president. So, when was the last time Missouri voted for the losing candidate? 1956, when the state switched from liking Ike in '52 -- by the way, it was the only one to do it-and voted for Adlai Stevenson, the loser, that year. Missouri's bellwether's streak ends this election, a half-century of showing us the way-tonight's "Big Number." Up next, we will go inside the recount in that Minnesota Senate race. We have got some contested ballots for you to look at and our strategists to judge, one Republican and one Democrat, to decide who the voter really intended to vote for, Norm Coleman or al Franken. You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I'm Julia Boorstin with your CNBC "Market Wrap."Another major sell-off. The Dow Jones industrials plunged 445 points, closing at 7552, a new five-and-a-half-year low, the S&P 500 down 54, closing at an 11-and-a-half-year low, and the Nasdaq down 70, also closing at a five-and-a-half low. Meantime, oil dropped another $4, closing at $49.62 a barrel. That's the lowest level in more than three years. Jobless claims surged last week to a 16-year high. That prompted Congress to quickly extend unemployment benefits. And the White House says President Bush will sign the measure. And Democratic leaders say there won't be a vote on bailing out the auto industry until next month. In the meantime, they want the Big Three automakers to present a plan showing how $25 billion in emergency loans would help. That's it from CNBC, first in business worldwide-now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

In the recount in that race in Minnesota for Senate between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, every ballot seems to count. And both candidates are doing everything they can to make sure any questionable ballot choices go their way. We're going to have the strategists now take a look at some of the ballots. And they are interesting, to say the least. Here's Steve McMahon and strategist Todd Harris. I want Todd to start. Take a look at this one. The Coleman campaign challenged this ballot, arguing the voter drew an arrow pointing at Coleman's name after filling in the bubble next to Franken's name. See that? See, Franken has got the bubble filled in, but then there's that squiggly line with maybe an arrow.How do you read that, Todd?

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: ... the Franken campaign is behind, so they are going to challenge more of these. This looks like-well, this would be tough, but it looks like...

MATTHEWS: Well, if you don't know, you don't have to say.

HARRIS: Yes. I don't know what their intent is.

MATTHEWS: Steve-Steve, what do you make of this?

HARRIS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Because the black is clearly filled in, and then there's this squiggly going out with maybe an arrow. How do you-I would throw that one out, probably. I don't think that makes any sense. But what do you think?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Which-which comes first, the bubble or the arrow? I think you got to go with-you got to go with the bubble, Chris. The bubble is filled in. It's for Al Franken.

MATTHEWS: And what about the arrow? What do you make of that? What is it there for?

MCMAHON: Well, I think it was just somebody who-somebody who couldn't control their bubble.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. We have got to do this straight.

Are you really saying that's a clear intention there?

MCMAHON: No, but, come on. Come on, Chris.

So, the Coleman campaign comes in and says, well, obviously, you know, they drew the arrow after the bubble.

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I'm trying to get your call.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK. Yes, I know. I know. That's the only assumption anybody can make.

Let's take a look at one that is-well, I think that's a question mark for me. You guys-you say it's a question mark. Steve says it's for the-for the Democrat.

Let's take a look at this next one. We have got a Franken vote where the vote is outside the bubble, but the intention, way over to the left, looks like Franken.

What do you make of that, Todd?

HARRIS: You have got to throw that ballot out.

MATTHEWS: Throw that-what do say...

HARRIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: What do you say, Steve? Do you count that as intention to Franken?

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: I'm giving it to Al.

MATTHEWS: I want to see the rest of the full ballot, see if that's what the voter does in each case. If in each case, they put their mark next to the Democrat, I would say that would be their intention.

Let's take a look at the next one, guys. This has got Franken clearly filled in. I mean, he's clearly filled in. And then they write in under write-in "Lizard People."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It looks to me like an overvote, Todd.

HARRIS: Yes, I'm going to-I'm going to throw that one out as well.

MATTHEWS: What do you say, Steve?

MCMAHON: Giving that one to Al.

MATTHEWS: "Lizard People" as a write-in.

You're giving that to Al?

MCMAHON: You know, listen, you...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Al is filled in.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Steve, there are laws-Steve, there are laws that govern all of this.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Todd, here's the problem. Here's the problem, Todd. When the bubble is filled in for Al Franken, it seems to me that the burden then shifts to the Coleman campaign, which wasn't standing in the booth, notwithstanding their argument earlier that the arrow came after the bubble.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of "Lizard People?" What do you make of somebody writing-going to the trouble of not just filling in a bubble, but writing out a full word, "Lizard"-I know it sounds maniacal. But, "Lizard People" what do you think that means?

HARRIS: It's an editorial comment, Chris. It's not a vote. The vote was cast by a bubble. You've got to give that one to Al.

MCMAHON: You've got to give it to Al.

MATTHEWS: Let's go. We're getting a pattern here. Let's look at this next one where the bubble has got a circle around it, but it's not filled in. It also has a check next to Franken. I think we don't have to go to Steve on that one. Where do you stand Todd?

HARRIS: I'm going to throw that out.

MATTHEWS: I think Steve has already given us a strong pattern.

You're with Franken on that one, right? Steve?

MCMAHON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: "OK, I figured that. Two more. I accept that. Let's go to two more, because I think we'll see a pattern here. Here is another one I think is fascinating, but I think we can agree on this one. Here's one where the Franken one has a little bit of noise in there, but the other one is clearly filled out, Coleman. Who wins that one, Steve, first this time?

MCMAHON: I'm going with Coleman.

MATTHEWS: OK, what do you say?

HARRIS: This is a Coleman ballot.

MATTHEWS: Another one, similar pattern. One is really filled in, the other one is not so filled in. Let's take a look at this one. Here it is. You've got a little bit of mark in there for Barkley, the third-party candidate, and a heavy fill-in for Franken. Your call, Todd?

HARRIS: If you're going to give that other one to Coleman, then you have to give this one to Franken. It would be interesting to see, if you get to the issue of intent, though, if you were to pull back and see the larger ballot, were they voting for McCain or were they voting for Bachmann, say, if they were in her Congressional district? How are they voting, Republican or Democrat?

MATTHEWS: Wouldn't you look at the pattern, Steve, and see if the person, for example, in that one case where they marked something outside the bubble, but clearly next to Franken-I would want to see the rest of the ballot and see if that's the way they vote. Maybe they didn't take the SATs. They don't know you fill in the bubble. They clearly marked intention. Steve, your thought?

MCMAHON: I think you're right about the one where it's outside. I think the one where you have a bubble filled in, whether it's Coleman as was the case a moment ago or that one with Al Franken, you have to assume they know what they're doing. They filled in a bubble. They cast a vote. Maybe they didn't intend to, but that's what they did.

HARRIS: My guess is that-I mean, Minnesota has a very liberal intent law when it comes to this. My guess is that there won't be a huge number of ballots that change hands one way or the other in terms of the vote total. Where I think that this thing is going off-track is when you look at what the Franken campaign is doing in terms of absentee ballots. What they're trying to do is say that absentee ballots that have been legally rejected, they want the voter information for the people who actually filled out those ballots, so they can then go and knock on their doors and contact them and try to get them to say that they voted for Al Franken. That is a huge invasion of voter privacy. You bring in all sorts of issues surrounding-

MATTHEWS: Are they allowed to do that? You can actually ask a person after they voted. Who is doing this?

HARRIS: The Franken campaign wants to do this.

MATTHEWS: What good would that do them?

HARRIS: They want to say that absentee ballots that have been rejected, they want to know whose ballots they were, so they can contact the voters. It's a huge invasion of voter privacy. One court judge has said they could do this. It's a disaster for voter privacy and the Franken campaign ought to be ashamed.

MATTHEWS: How many absentee ballots are in dispute?

HARRIS: That I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Steve, do you know much about this? Is this race still in dispute itself? A couple hundred votes separate them, the last I saw. Is this really going to be decided this way or does Coleman hold his lead? I mean, can Franken catch him with this dispute, in the midst of this dispute?

MCMAHON: Earlier today, the Franken campaign sent out an e-mail. I was on the e-mail list so I received it. They went county by county of what's been counted so far and what Al Franken received on election day, and what he's getting right now. They claim that he's picked up almost 75 or 80 votes so far in the counties. So I think there's a chance. If you talk to people at the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, they think there's a decent chance that Al Franken is going to be able to pick up enough votes to get past him. I think Todd's probably right about going back and trying to ascertain people's intent based on ballots that were thrown out. I'm not sure that is going to end up happening. But the Franken campaign seems to believe, even without that happening, that they may be able to turn this thing over.

HARRIS: The problem is that the ballots, the counting they've already done, in term of the recount, have been in the heaviest of Democratic counties, St. Louis County.

MATTHEWS: That tells you?

HARRIS: That tells me that if all they've picked up is 50 votes, which I think is the swing so far, in the heaviest of Democratic counties, then when they get around to Republican counties for the recount, they shouldn't be expecting to pick up-in fact, Coleman will probably increase his lead. The Coleman campaign was bracing for a much bigger pickup from Franken.

MATTHEWS: I think everybody saw tonight how tricky sometimes calling these is. I've got them three-two-one for Franken. I think one of those ballots was impossible to read. Anyway, thank you, guys. Steve McMahon, thank you, Todd Harris.

Up next, no drama Obama meets the Clintons. Where is this story heading? The politics fix is next. More on Hillary and Bill and Obama. This is a three-way now. Lots of news coming out. Lots of leaking. Lots of fighting. HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We're back. Reviewing the bidding on the Minnesota recount from our last segment, Todd Harris, the Republican, scores it one vote for Al Franken, one for Coleman and four thrown out. Steve McMahon, the Democrat, counted it five for Franken and one for Coleman. I think I was three, two, one, Franken, Coleman, no count. Time now for the politics fix. Perry Bacon is with the "Washington Post" and Jeanne Cummings of "Politico." We won't put you guys to the test here, but I'm going to start with you, Jeanne. This back and forth in the pages of our major newspapers, practically all the papers now have a story today, had stories yesterday, will have stories tomorrow, about the back and forth negotiations-that's what they look like-between the Clintons, that's Bill and Hillary, over the secretary of state job. This has never happened before with Obama. Two years we've watched this guy, no leaks. Now nothing but the Titanic. What's going on?

JEANNE CUMMINGS, "POLITICO": Well, you know, we can understand now why he didn't pick her as his vice presidential candidate. All of these problems would have been vetted out then. You know, I think it's been really awkward for the Obama campaign right now because, on the one hand, this is a real gesture on his part. If you talk to the people who are close to him, he genuinely wants to get the strongest person to take all of these cabinet positions. If she is the strongest for state, then he wants to find a way to do it. But the Clintons are making it really complicated for them. It is a mystery why the Clintons or the people around the Clintons would make this process so complicated and difficult and irritating to those around Obama. I'm not sure whether the irritation rises up to the major players. I think Obama and Hillary Clinton did create a bridge between themselves during the campaign. But certainly at the staff level there is friction.

MATTHEWS: You know, same question to you, Perry. I have never read so much information. We even know who the negotiators are. We know who the Clinton negotiators are and what papers to release. All of this stuff is public information. Lots of stuff today about Bill Clinton and what he is willing to put forth, in terms of changing his life and business. Why is it all in the papers?

PERRY BACON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think we've seen something in the last few weeks. When the Obama campaign was in Chicago, it was different. Once they moved to Washington, things are leaking out generally more-not only about the Clintons, but also about other picks they're making as well. I don't think it is just the Clinton issue. But I do think the issue with the Clintons is even more complicated, because of Bill's life and the money he makes on speeches. There's a lot of complications here. I suspect-the back and forth seems to be very complicated between the two sides.

MATTHEWS: Last time, when Hillary Clinton was up for vice president -when she joined the campaign, rather, when she started helping him, a lot of talk about getting help in retiring her debt. There was an item in the "New York Times" the other. Maybe it wasn't related, but there it was, her spokesman saying how much money she owed the campaign and all that, as if it was part of this negotiation. Maybe it is not. But it is in the articles. It is in the discussion. Why is it there?

CUMMINGS: It does, it make-

MATTHEWS: There are people out there talking to the press about her campaign debts. Why are they doing it?

CUMMINGS: For the very reason that you said. They want that debt drawn down, and they want Obama's people to help pay for it. This again may as well be her as everyone around her who want the help. They feel like the Obama people did not do as much as they could have when she came on board and endorsed him and went out and made all those appearances for him. There are people around Clinton who feel like the Obama campaign was slow to pick up the effort to get rid of her debt and ultimately didn't help her get rid of the debt. It is a nagging, festering issue between those two camps.

MATTHEWS: Perry, what do we make of that? Is there that kind of negotiation? If she becomes secretary of state, she would get not just the prize of secretary of state, but would get some help in paying her way out of politics, including perhaps paying off old campaign debts?

BACON: Not clear that is going to happen. The Obama people tried some in the past to get their donors to help Hillary Clinton's donors. There is a lot of reluctance from Obama's donors. A lot of the debt is to Mark Penn, the strategist who a lot of Obama supporters don't like very much. A lot of the money is owed to him. They don't want to see him receive more money. I think that is going to be a lingering tension for a long time.

MATTHEWS: I'll tell you, it is an amazing negotiation. This is not Obama's style. This is Clinton's style, middle level intelligence, high grade HARDBALL. We'll be right back with Perry Bacon and Jeanne Cummings for more of the politics fix.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We're back with Perry Bacon and Jeanne Cummings for more of the politics fix. Perry, let me ask you about the pecking order. Let's assume Senator Clinton becomes Secretary of State Clinton and Joe Biden is vice president of the United States. Who has the portfolio for foreign policy? Who is top dog?

BACON: Hillary Clinton is going to be making all the trips and going to the foreign capitals. She would be the top dog, as far as traditionally how this works. I think Senator Biden agreement with Obama is he will be consulted on major decisions. I'm not sure he will be representing the United States in those meetings. (INAUDIBLE) Hillary Clinton would be doing those kind of things, being in the actual meetings themselves.

MATTHEWS: Where is foreign policy going to originate? Where is the fist draft of a policy going to come from, the White House staff or will the first policy come from State and the president will sign off and modify? Who is going to be head of foreign policy.

BACON: I'm sure Barack Obama will be head of foreign policy.

MATTHEWS: No, not the decider. No, that is a formal definitional answer. Where will the policy germinate from, where will the ideas, the suggested initiatives, the clever new overtures to other countries, the interesting triangulation, all the stuff that goes on in foreign policy, where will it come from? Obama's brain or the people around Hillary's brain?

BACON: I think, Chris, the answer will be the people around Obama. If you pick someone as secretary of state you don't trust all that much in the first place, I can't imagine you are going to be delegating large amounts of things to a person you don't have the utmost confidence in. I suspect it will still be his staff that will ultimately be deciding a lot of those issues.

MATTHEWS: OK, that is what Tom Friedman of the "New York Times" said, too. Foreign leaders will know Hillary Clinton doesn't have the full backing of Barack Obama, that he put her there so she wouldn't be in the Senate. I mean, that's the writing. I don't believe that is true. But the writing is all been around that, that somehow she'll be less of a problem for him. I never thought of her as a problem in the Senate. I think she is going to be completely loyal to the Democratic agenda, until maybe way down the road when she decides to run again. Then she'll have to be independent. What do you make of this, Jeanne, that she has been given a job at State because she will be less of a problem than she'll be in the Senate. I just don't buy that, but it's been written everywhere.

CUMMINGS: I agree with you. I don't think that is the calculation here, because I don't think that is what would motivate Barack Obama to fill such an important cabinet position. I think there are strengths to Hillary Clinton at State. I think he is looking at those strengths. To you question about where would policy originate? Right now, Susan Rice is expected to go inside, to be his National Security Adviser. The two of them are very close. They developed his policy. I think that is where it would come from, and it would be up to State to implement. and Hillary would clearly have a voice, but when you look at-

MATTHEWS: Are you laughing like I'm laughing? Senator Hillary Clinton has gotten as far as she has gotten in her career-she was almost the Democratic nominee for president. She's in New York as the United States senator from New York. She won that on her own. She's done it all. Now she is going to take orders, instructions; here is your mission statement today.

CUMMINGS: Therein lies the problem and the danger and the risk to what he's doing. There's an old expression, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. They aren't enemies. They're adversaries. But maybe we have a lot more of that going on here, rather than-

MATTHEWS: You don't give your enemies the gun. Anyway, thank you Perry Bacon. Thank you Jeanne Cummings. Right now, it's time for 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE with David Gregory.

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

END

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