Guest: Mike Papantonio, Rep. John Garamendi, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Peter Beinart, David Corn, Eric Burns, Michael Smerconish
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Who blew it?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. Leading off
tonight: Oil slicks. BP says Transocean and Halliburton did it.
Transocean says BP and Halliburton did it. Halliburton says BP and
Transocean did it. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. So who did
cause the gulf oil spill, and who‘s going to hold them responsible? Are we
talking poltergeist? Who is that enemy below that caused this spill? And
what role did Dick Cheney play in all of this?
Plus, we know that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once banned
military recruiters from the Harvard law school. Is this the ammo that
Republicans are going to use to block her confirmation?
Plus: Revenge of the nerds and other winners and losers in this year‘s
political ad season.
And out on a Limbaugh. We‘re issuing a challenge tonight and every
night to elected Republicans, come on HARDBALL, please, sir and madam, and
tell us you disagree with Rush on anything. Tell us you‘ve had it with his
distortions, his misrepresentations, his outright falsehoods. We invite
you to tell us he‘s not the leader of the Republican Party. It‘s our
standing offer. Come on HARDBALL and tell us Rush isn‘t telling the truth.
And the right wing can‘t stop complaining about taxes always going up.
Except they‘re not. “Let Me Finish” with some straight talk about who‘s
paying and how much.
Let‘s start with the politics of the oil spill. U.S. Congressman John
Garamendi‘s a Democrat from California and Michael Papantonio is a lawyer
whose firm filed a class-action lawsuit in three states against the oil
I want to start with Mr. Papantonio. Sir, you brought a lawsuit. Is
there a case to be made here against Dick Cheney as head of Halliburton?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILIES SUING BP: I think—I think
it‘s a systemic problem. Look, influence pattern emerged after Dick
Cheney‘s 100-day meeting that he had behind closed doors with the American
Petroleum Institute, Exxon, Shell, Conoco.
Look, Congress needs to be asking these questions right now, Chris.
Right now, they‘re not asking the tough questions. What happened in that
closed-door meeting? What was discussed? What promises were made? What
quid quo pro took place? And why was there this sudden change that took
place after that meeting?
More importantly, Chris, why is it we can‘t even get the minutes from
PAPANTONIO: Bobby Kennedy and I sued this department to try to get
them. We can‘t get them.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me help you with this, Mr. Papantonio, since it‘s
your lawsuit. Consider this amicus information. The vice president got
$24 million—I‘m sorry, $34 million from Halliburton after he joined the
ticket in 2000. He was leaving the company. This wasn‘t for services.
This was what, good will, $34 million? Then the two top regulators on MMS
who are supposed to be responsible for managing the oil industry and making
sure there‘s safety in their operations—both Halliburton people.
So isn‘t that interesting? What do you make of that, before we move
on, the Halliburton factor here, the Cheney factor? Please answer my
question. What role did Dick Cheney play coming into the vice presidency
and two top Halliburton people taking over responsibility for—get this -
PAPANTONIO: We know this—we know this, Chris. What did happen is
the whole—the whole Mineral Management department changed. New people
showed up. New regulations showed up.
MATTHEWS: Halliburton people.
PAPANTONIO: Halliburton. Well, here it is. Here it is. It goes
beyond that. It goes beyond—all you have to do is look at the fact that
it wasn‘t just a meeting where nothing happened for Halliburton. After
this meeting, a 300 percent increase took place in their business on things
like offshore drilling. It‘s about access. It‘s about access—clearly
about access, Chris.
Look, here‘s where this thing should go. There‘s a statute. It‘s
clear. It‘s called the honest service fraud statute. It‘s called 18 U.S.
code 1346. Prosecutors all over America use this statute to put—to put
cronies, political cronies, in prison for the type of thing that they
should be asking questions about right now. It‘s real simple to follow.
PAPANTONIO: When there‘s a government official and a third party that
have an agreement and it doesn‘t look right, we need to investigate. Right
MATTHEWS: OK, let me—let me...
MATTHEWS: ... go to one office holder. Let‘s go to a lawmaker, a
good government guy, John Garamendi. I‘ve known you a long time. You‘re a
good government guy. What is the role of Halliburton here, this amazing
relationship where the vice president gets $34 million on his way into the
vice presidency, as these regulators are being named and they‘re being
named from the very company they‘re supposed to be regulating? I don‘t see
how you can trust that kind of relationship.
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: You can‘t. We used to say fox
guarding the henhouse, now we have the skunks guarding the henhouse. No
doubt about it. It‘s not just the oil industry. We‘re talking about a
war. We‘re talking about a trillion dollars of American taxpayers‘ money
for an unnecessary war in Iraq. Dick Cheney and the oil boys really
screwed up this country to a faretheewell.
MATTHEWS: Well, they wanted the war, too. But let‘s go into this
question of Halliburton. Let‘s watch now testimony from Halliburton with
Pete (SIC) Sessions, the Republican. Let‘s talk about how they‘re looking
at their role in what went wrong, this horrible thing that went wrong in
the Gulf of Mexico. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the procedure which has been used multiple
on multiple occasions in the Gulf of Mexico.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: Well, would it be used in less than
10 percent of the procedures?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m afraid I‘m not in a position (INAUDIBLE) on
SESSIONS: You have—well, you do this business, do you not? You‘re
under oath. I‘m just asking you a simple question. What percentage, in
your best judgment, is it that they remove the mud before the final plug is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know, Senator.
SESSIONS: Do you—is it less than 50 percent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know, Senator.
SESSIONS: You don‘t know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know. The obligation for that decision
lies between the leaseholder and MMS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Mike Papantonio on this question because
it involves the litigation here. It seems to me that drill mud is used as
a counterforce against the oil in the ground to keep it from coming up.
Did they take a shortcut here? Is it your understanding that the company
doing the drilling did a shortcut here that has caused this explosion and
PAPANTONIO: Chris, there‘s no other—there‘s no other explanation.
Look, they understand the physics of this, just like you or I do. You put
pressure on the well, it keeps the methane gas down in the well. If you
take the pressure off, methane gas comes up the drill column and explodes.
This isn‘t—this isn‘t something new to them. They‘ve had it happen 40
times on rigs just in the last few years.
PAPANTONIO: It‘s all about—it‘s all about squeezing that extra
dime out of this rig. And I‘m telling you, that‘s where the money trail is
going to lead on this one. That‘s why he couldn‘t answer the question. I
can tell you this, you can put any roustabout on this camera and they‘re
going to tell you this is the stupidest thing they‘ve ever heard by
removing that pressure gradient mud out early. Makes no sense.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve talked to people in the oil industry, Congressman
Garamendi, that—they tell me that no mistake is ever new. No accident‘s
ever new. Everything that ever goes wrong has happened before. And when
it happened before—this is just a fact—they established safety
management procedures for making sure it doesn‘t happen again. They don‘t
want this to happen.
Why didn‘t they follow those procedures in this case so it wouldn‘t
happen, what happened before? They‘re acting like this is an act of God.
All the right wing is saying, Act of God. Oh, we can‘t believe it. It‘s
MATTHEWS: Weird spirits did this! God did this. But at some point,
we take responsibility for money-making when money-making goes bad. Your
thoughts, Congressman. Can we have safe offshore drilling or not?
GARAMENDI: I don‘t think it‘ll ever be safe. There‘s always going to
be an inherent danger, and when it occurs, it‘s going to be a real
troublesome thing because you‘re in a marine ocean environment. I have a
bill in to ban permanently new leases off the West Coast of America.
We just don‘t need to go there. We need to shift. We need to shift
away from oil. We need to move to the renewable energy policies. As long
as we continue to drill, we‘re going to find ourselves with these kinds of
problems. Not every year, not every drill rig, but it‘s going to happen.
And when it does—and keep this in mind, Chris. Last year, within
the last 12 months, there have been two massive blowouts on offshore oil
rigs, one off the West Coast of Australia and another one in the Gulf of
Mexico. This is not unheard of. In fact, it‘s all too common.
So enough already. Move away from our dependence on oil and let‘s get
on with that renewable energy, which everybody says is our future and has
to be our future.
MATTHEWS: Mike, let‘s get down to this three monkeys we saw today. I
use the term—not that these men are monkeys but the old expression about
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
PAPANTONIO: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: It‘s an old Chinese sort of iconic description of when
people don‘t tell the truth. How are these companies going to continue
this joke? They went on this Marx Brothers routine, this Three Stooges
routine, if you will, where each was pointing at the other? This is what
criminal defendants do. They always say, Joe did it, or Max did it, so
that the jury gets confused. Are we going to be confused at the end of
PAPANTONIO: From the beginning—no, you‘re not going to be
confused. There‘s—because one of them is going to be clearly—you
know, it‘s not—it‘s just not one event.
But I got to tell you something. Here‘s what—here‘s what‘s being
missed on this. The first—the first couple of days this occurred, BP
came out from the standpoint of their OPA responsibility, which is a
statutory responsibility, said, We are the responsible party.
PAPANTONIO: Then when this thing started getting out of control, the
disaster that we‘re seeing—Oh, no, it wasn‘t just us, it was
Halliburton, it was the defective valve.
And you know what? It‘s going to continue because this—Chris, I
got to tell you something. People are looking like this is a walk in the
park on a clean-up? This could put this company under.
Now, I‘m telling you, today I saw an article in the paper where it
says, Look, this is not a big problem for Halliburton. It is a big problem
for BP and Halliburton. With something this catastrophic that‘s going to
go on for this long, it‘s not just the clean-up. The clean-up is $20
billion. What about the people that have lost their livelihood? What
about a culture that‘s been completely wiped out along the Gulf Coast?
This is more than a $20 billion problem. And I got to tell you something.
If people aren‘t thinking that BP has it on their mind that they‘re going
to look for some kind of protection down the road, they‘re wrong.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the government end of this. Mr. Garamendi,
Congressman, congratulations on being a congressman, and it‘s a wonderful
opportunity to make law now. And I look at this situation—the president
of the United States is allowed to have a vice president, who in many ways
looks more powerful than he does. And Dick Cheney of his own volition
says, I‘m bringing all the oil industry tycoons into the office with me,
absolute secrecy. We‘re going to set energy policy for a democratic
country. We‘re supposed to be a democracy. Yet the policies made in the
secrecy of the White House, no press allowed, no records kept, absolute
And then we find out that these guys at Halliburton, one of his
companies—in fact, the company that paid him $34 million into the vice
presidency—has gotten their pick of the regulators to regulate
Halliburton! How do we stop this? It seems like a third-world banana
republic would do it this way.
GARAMENDI: Well, first of all, you better elect the right people. We
knew when George W. Bush came in that he was an oil man. And we knew that
when he chose Cheney that we were in for an oil economy, and we got exactly
what the people voted for. You got to be aware that elections matter.
They make a big difference.
There ought to be laws. In fact, there are laws. Congress did its
very best to try to get that information, but executive privilege was
pulled to shield all of that information—wrongly done.
We‘re going to have to hammer away at this. And these kinds of
problems should not be allowed. It really depends upon who you choose to
elect as a president. If you‘re choosing an insider from the oil industry,
you better expect the oil industry is going to call the shots. And they
But it‘s only part of the puzzle. Halliburton has been on the edge of
the law, if not an outlaw, for this entire last decade. Take a look at
what you just talked about, the establishment of the oil policy. Look what
they did in Iraq. There‘s been extraordinary scandals that involved
Halliburton in Iraq. Hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared when it
was sent off to Halliburton. There are problems after problems after
problems. But it goes back to who‘s president.
Take a look. Who does that person serve? Do they serve the interests
of the general public, the environment, or do they serve the interests of
the oil industry? No doubt about where George Bush was coming from. And
then when he chose Cheney and Halliburton, hey, the die was cast, the
problems were created.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: I think you put it together. Mr. Papantonio, we‘ll have
you back on. I think we have the facts -- 34 million bucks in the pocket
of Dick Cheney, his regulators in the regulating positions of his own
company. Nice deal they got there, Dick! Anyway, Congressman John
Garamendi, thank you, sir. Thank you, Mike Papantonio. Good luck with the
GARAMENDI: Thanks, Chris.
PAPANTONIO: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Should Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan
apologize for banning military recruiters from the Harvard law school
campus when she was dean? That‘s sour debate tonight, and it‘s straight
But in one minute: Britain finally has a new PM, a new prime minister.
He‘s a Tory.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, now we have a conservative. David Cameron is the new
prime minister of Great Britain. Cameron‘s Conservatives finished with the
most seats in parliament in last week‘s election yet failed to get a full
majority. And after days of negotiations, Cameron is set to form a
coalition with the third party, the Liberal Democrats. Labour leader
Gordon Brown announced his resignation as prime minister late today after
negotiations between his party, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats broke
down. And so for the first time since 1997, Britain will have a Tory at
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Republicans like Senator Jeff
Sessions and John Kyl are already signaling their disapproval of Elena
Kagan‘s decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard law school during
her tenure as dean there. And today Rush Limbaugh tore into what the right
hopes will be her Achilles heel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: All that we know about this
woman is that she banned military recruiters from Harvard and was
overturned by the Supreme Court!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So will Kagan‘s decision to ban military recruiters from
Harvard be enough to block her confirmation to the Supreme Court? Melissa
Harris-Lacewell is a professor of politics at Princeton. She‘s also an
MSNBC contributor. And Peter Beinart wrote in Thedailybeast that Kagan
should apologize for banning military recruiters at Harvard.
So you‘re on the offensive, Peter. Why should she apologize for
basically backing her institution?
PETER BEINART, THEDAILYBEAST.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, actually,
to be fair to her, she didn‘t actually ban them from campus. What she did
do is she denied them equal access. She didn‘t want to allow them to use
the Career Services Office.
Look, I think Elena Kagan is smart. I would vote to confirm her. I
probably agree with her on 95 percent of stuff. But I think in this
regard, she was wrong. It was a really counterproductive way to try to
respond to the fact that the military discriminates against gays and
lesbians. The best—you can‘t—the best thing to do would have been to
embrace the U.S. military and try to get—try to make change from within.
MATTHEWS: What kind of an apology should she offer?
BEINART: I think she should say that she was wrong, that this policy,
which was pretty widespread amongst elite law schools, was
counterproductive. It actually drove a wedge between the academy and the
military, which was bad for both of them. And she should say, in
retrospect, she thinks it was a counterproductive view that she had.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m not big on these sort of required apologies, by
the way, because I always think they‘re phony as you can be because when
you say apologize, you‘re really saying to a person, Bow down and accept
our higher value, which you didn‘t share at the time but we‘re insisting
you share now. You‘re not asking them to say they were wrong, you‘re
asking them to bow before your value system, right?
BEINART: No, I think she should say she was wrong.
MATTHEWS: In other words, the military is more important—and I can
see this argument. National defense is more important than a change in
social policy about people of a different orientation, which by the way,
was becoming more liberal under “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” than it had been
BEINART: But it‘s not—Chris, it‘s not only that. It‘s precisely
because you do want to change what I believe was a totally bigoted policy
towards gays and lesbians, that you recognize that—that—that not—
denying the military equal access is counterproductive to that because it
leads the military to simply recruit an officer corps that is more
conservative. The best thing to do...
BEINART: ... is to try to have a relationship so you get more liberal
people into the military.
MATTHEWS: Melissa, what do you think of the argument, Professor, that
if you deny the elite schools participation in our military officer corps,
you really do drown out those more, well, liberal arts voices out of the
military and make it more of a take-orders kind of crowd than it would be
otherwise, they‘d be more open-minded if you had those people in the
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well...
MATTHEWS: That‘s the argument Peter made.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Yes, no, that‘s right. You know, so his piece is
interesting in part because it tries to sort of thread this needle, on the
one hand calling the policy of “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” immoral, but then
also claiming that Kagan should not have taken a strong stance as the dean
of Harvard law school against it.
But I think the point here is not whether or not “Don‘t ask, don‘t
tell” is immoral. The point is that “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” was
discriminatory. And the American Association of Law Schools has a policy
saying that those employers who discriminate in their recruitment and
hiring practices should not be allowed to recruit on law school campuses.
Now, he‘s exactly correct that she did not deny them access to
Harvard, or even to Harvard law school. In fact, recruiters could be there
in the exact same room but under the sponsorship of the Veterans
Association, rather than under the sponsorship of the Career Services
Now, I think an apology is in order, but I think that apology should
come from the U.S. military, who, using the Solomon Amendment...
HARRIS-LACEWELL: ... was bullying an institution like Harvard and
other elite institutions, whose federal funding go to do things like
research our health crises, go to things like our social policies, go to
things like basic science research.
They used the Solomon Amendment to bully in order to enforce a second-
class citizenship right and then demand equal access to discriminatory
Let‘s get to the sheer politics of this, Peter, because I think there
is a sheer political aspect to this. You‘re a journalist. You know there
is, which is this narrative that Barack Obama doesn‘t like the military,
Barack Obama is anti-military, not really involved in it, emotionally in
this war against terrorism. He somehow does the job, but he‘s not really a
real cop out there. He doesn‘t really have the attitude you want in this
front against terrorism.
They‘re going to use it, right? People like Kyl, people—the
neoconservatives are going to use this, because Kyl is always in bed with
the neoconservatives. He‘s making the fight. He‘s always the lead dog in
these kind of fights. You can predict that. And here he is again.
PETER BEINART, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Well, absolutely.
And what‘s so stupid about that argument is, if you look at the new
leadership of the U.S. military, people like Petraeus and McChrystal,
they‘re very, very concerned about things like civilian casualties.
They‘re very, very concerned about the humanitarian and economic efforts of
nation-building, rather than simply with a blunt instrument.
So, in fact, the military in many ways has—if you look at their
policies on torture, has moved towards a much more liberal stance than the
MATTHEWS: Peter, you‘re—you‘re a little slow on the draw. I have
been saying that for 10 years. The military is always more enlightened
about the use of war.
BEINART: Absolutely. But that‘s precisely why...
MATTHEWS: They‘re almost the most...
MATTHEWS: Starting with Colin Powell, they don‘t believe war is
always the answer.
MATTHEWS: It‘s the pencil-necks in academic life that always want to
use the military. It‘s the neoconservatives, with their intellectual
notions of how we have to fight the war against whatever. They‘re the ones
that drag us into these wars, right?
MATTHEWS: That‘s what always happens.
BEINART: But that‘s precisely—that‘s precisely why I think it was
really mistaken to take this—take this policy at Harvard that you deny
equal access. I think, in fact, there has been a very valuable convergence
between the military and a lot of liberal notions about the way you
particularly in the war on terror.
And I think, unfortunately, these policies are counterproductive to
MATTHEWS: You know, professor Harris, I want to get to the point here
about values, because this happens all the time now. If you disagree with
a value, perhaps—and I am very pro-gay rights. I am for same-sex and
the whole—I think we have to have a society where you can pursue
I‘m with the original founders on this way back when. I think that‘s
what‘s unique about our society. It is about liberty in the fullest extent
possible that society can permit. I‘m all for it. But I also wonder about
the way we jump from one value to the next. The Boy Scouts in Philadelphia
have been kicked out of their building because they don‘t want gay Scout
masters or gay Scouts. That‘s a good argument. Let‘s fight it. But don‘t
kill the institution to get it done.
I just think a lot of times everybody says—like, I‘m with Peter on
this. Kill all Ivy League involvement in the military to make a point. Is
that really the way to do it, with a sledgehammer?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, let‘s be clear that an elite Harvard Law
School graduate is in fact the commander in chief at this point. I mean,
the notion that recruitment officers...
MATTHEWS: But he wasn‘t recruited.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: No doubt. Well, I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: He ran.
MATTHEWS: It‘s called running for office. Ambition got him...
MATTHEWS: No, ambition got him there.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: But the idea that—that, somehow, the recruitment
offices themselves—I mean, what I would agree with is the fact that I
thinks this primarily symbolic, that, in fact, I don‘t think that either
you‘re going to flood the military with Harvard Law School graduates who
are going to somehow change the institution from the inside.
Part of what a law school dean is meant to do is to represent the
values of the current legal environment, and that is at this historic
moment a nondiscriminatory one.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: As the first woman head of that law school, she was
enforcing a nondiscriminatory policy, until it became a matter of the law
of the land that she had to in fact allow the recruiters, at which point,
I actually think this is precisely what you want from a Supreme Court
justice, someone who has strong opinions, who nevertheless provides as much
access as she can under—underneath those opinions...
HARRIS-LACEWELL: ... and, you know, agrees with the law and complies
by it once it occurs.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: I think it‘s actually...
HARRIS-LACEWELL: ... emblematic that her temperament is exactly
Peter, the problem I have is that don‘t ask, don‘t tell, as bad as
people think it is, is better than what we had before, when they would
Section 8 people. They just threw them out because they were gay.
And now you have to sort of announce it in some way. At least, that
was the theory of don‘t ask, don‘t tell. It was a more liberal policy on
the way to being a far more liberal policy, right? It isn‘t—it isn‘t
going backwards, here, right?
I mean, listen, see, I think—I think there‘s no question that, as a
society, we‘re going to—we‘re moving forward.
MATTHEWS: We are.
BEINART: And, hopefully, soon, one day, this—we won‘t even have to
be discussing these issues.
But the problem was that they only saw the military as an employer.
It was like Procter & Gamble. So they applied the same standards to them
as any other employer. You can‘t see the military fundamentally primarily
as an employer. It‘s completely different.
BEINART: It‘s one of our four public institutions as a country, and
you can‘t alienate yourself from it, it seems to me, without real serious
MATTHEWS: Last word, Melissa?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: But because—but because it is so important as a
national institution, it‘s enforcement of second-class status on people
because of their identity is particularly appalling.
And the fact is, although don‘t ask don‘t tell moves towards some
level of openness around gay and lesbians, it does nothing to protect
transsexual—transgendered individuals within the military. And, of
course, if you were an openly gay student in law school, for example, an
activist around LGBT issues, that would have been enough to have kept you
out of it.
And so it meant that there was a second-class citizenship question.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: And, so, I think she did the right thing as dean in
protecting that sense of nondiscriminatory policy.
MATTHEWS: Well, it should be—these hearings are going to be great,
especially when Jon Kyl jumps in there for neocons. It‘s going to be an
interesting—Peter, you know what‘s coming. He‘s out there. He‘s their
lead dog. He‘s the Saint Bernard of that crowd.
BEINART: It‘s all scripted ahead of time.
MATTHEWS: I know. He‘s already up there.
Thank you very much, Melissa, professor. Thank you for joining us,
Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton, and Peter Beinart—up next—of
the Council on Foreign Relations.
Up next: America‘s most famous immigrant—I have never heard him
described that way—Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaks out about Arizona‘s
illegal immigration law. He‘s pretty funny.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now for the “Sideshow.”
First: Take it from me. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his
commencement speech at Emory University yesterday to nudge both his in-laws
and the state of Arizona.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: It‘s my first law degree.
SCHWARZENEGGER: And, finally, finally the Kennedys will think that I
SCHWARZENEGGER: And, finally, Maria can take me home and meet her
SCHWARZENEGGER: And I was all set to go and give a commencement
speech in Arizona. But, with my accent, I was worried they‘re going to
deport me back to Austria.
SCHWARZENEGGER: So, I canceled that idea right away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that, by the way, is no laughing matter for Arizona
businesses. The city of Phoenix estimates it may lose $90 million over the
next five years because of those immigration boycotts.
Next: a primer in political expediency. Charlie Crist has done some
housecleaning on his Senate campaign Web site. When he was still a
Republican, not that long ago, he had a banner reading, “consistent
leadership, the Charlie Crist conservative record.” Now that he‘s an
independent candidate, it reads, “consistent leadership, the Charlie Crist
record.” Where‘s that conservative?
You can guess which voters he‘s now targeting. That‘s right,
Democrats. Talking Points Memo caught that little baby.
Time for the “Big Number” tonight.
A lot of conservatives would have you think President Obama has raised
taxes on the American people in the last year. But, according to a new
report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, federal, state and local taxes
accounted for just 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009. That‘s well
below the historic average of 12 percent.
In fact, when was the last time tax levels were at this level? 1950.
You would have to go all the way back to the Harry Truman era, the last
time the tax burden was this low, 1950 -- tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: out on a Limbaugh. If you‘re a Republican and you think Rush
Limbaugh is wrong, here‘s our challenge from HARDBALL: Come on the show
and tell us Rush is distorting the truth. We want to hear from you,
because, to us, it looks like Rush is the leader of the Republican Party.
Did I say it like him? Party.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC
Stocks ending pretty mixed at the end of a wobbly day on Wall Street,
the Dow Jones industrial average falling 37 points, the S&P 500 dropping
about four, the Nasdaq, though, eking out a slight gain.
How about this? Gold gone wild. Fears about the European debt crisis
may be easing a little bit, but investors are hedging their bets still,
gold prices shooting up about above $33, settling at a new high, around
$1,233 an ounce.
Priceline shares plummeting more than 12 percent today, despite more
than doubling its earnings in the latest quarter. And Disney shares
actually finishing slightly higher, ahead of an earnings report released
just after the closing bell. That report turned out better than expected,
but shares are moving a little bit lower in after-hours trading.
And head of the SEC telling a congressional panel today that
investigators are sifting through more than 60 million trades to try to
pinpoint the cause of last week‘s what they‘re calling the flash crash.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You see, folks, information is
king. And Obama can‘t be king if we have information. That‘s what bugs
him. What bugs him is that there is dissent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He‘s amazing.
That‘s, of course, Rush Limbaugh today—actually, yesterday—
calling President Obama a king, pretty soft stuff compared to his usual
barbs, like regime and socialist and Nazi-like.
Well, on Friday‘s HARDBALL, former New York Governor George Pataki
delivered a rare message for a Republican. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You‘ve said that Rush Limbaugh is wrong, that Barack Obama
is not a Nazi, right? He‘s not a Nazi. You agree with that?
GEORGE PATAKI ®, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: He is not a Nazi, yes.
MATTHEWS: And this administration was duly elected. It‘s not a
MATTHEWS: OK. So...
PATAKI: Of course.
MATTHEWS: ... you disagree with him...
MATTHEWS: You‘re—no, it‘s amazing, because you‘re not a ditto
head. You know how hard it is to find a Republican who‘s not a ditto
head? I can‘t find a Republican member of the Congress—and, by the
way, if there are any out there, please call HARDBALL on MSNBC, and let us
know you‘re a Republican elected official now in office and are willing to
take on that large man on radio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, no call the yet.
And, going forward, HARDBALL invites any and all current, former and
aspiring elected Republicans—by the way, you staffers on Capitol Hill,
take note—who want to denounce El Rushbo‘s radical rhetoric. Just go
ahead. You got an open invitation on HARDBALL. Come on the show and say
you disagree with Rush Limbaugh on anything.
“Mother Jones” Washington bureau chief David Corn is here to talk
about Rush‘s rule. I think it is a Rush Limbaugh regime, in fact. He‘s
also a columnist for Politics Daily. And Eric Burns is president of Media
Matters, which tracks all things, including Rush‘s ramblings, or rumblings,
on his Web site.
You know, Eric, sometimes, I listen to the fellow and I‘m thinking
about offshore oil disasters, and I think he might be one of them. I mean,
he‘s like—you hear like a—like an underwater walrus talking. And
His—let me ask you quickly. You have been on the show.
ERIC BURNS, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Sure.
MATTHEWS: What is his measure of power over the Republican Party? I
have a sense—we had a guy named Gingrey, a congressman from Georgia.
You know about this.
MATTHEWS: We had Michael Steele. For a couple of seconds, they‘re
off base. They‘re like a batter tagging up after getting to first, rushing
back to first base, for fear of being tagged off base by Rush, because he‘s
If you disagree with him on a thing, he nails you. I wonder if the
Republican Party is not just in bed with Rush; they‘re under the covers.
BURNS: They‘re absolutely under his thumb.
You know, I would consider Rush Limbaugh to be essentially the
godfather of the Republican Party, right up there with—with FOX News.
And they really are running the show. The conservative media apparatus
stepped into the vacuum after two consecutive electoral defeats for the
GOP, and they‘re the tail that‘s wagging the dog. There‘s no question
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to David. Let me go to my buddy on this
one, David Corn.
If you had to measure the power of Rushbo or O‘Reilly or Sean or
Glenn, compared to the power of John Boehner, how would you measure the
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: Well, I guess,
on a scale of one to 10, it‘s an 11.
MATTHEWS: And you give Boehner a one?
CORN: Yes, perhaps.
CORN: Chris, if you‘re going to have a party with Republicans who are
willing to criticize Rush Limbaugh, you‘re going to end up with all the
beer yourself. It‘s going to be a very empty room.
You know, the whole image of them being under the covers with Rush may
be too dicey for—for—for prime-time TV here, but they—time and
time again, they have shown, not just with Rush, but they‘re not willing to
take on their own base. Remember the rally in November, when you had Tea
Partiers shouting Nazi, Nazis in reference to Nancy Pelosi and Barack
And John Boehner and Eric Cantor and the others were there...
CORN: ... on the podium and just sort of waving along.
MATTHEWS: Well, what—speaking of the podium, what I‘m watching
right now would be hard to hide under the covers. This guy is a big guy.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s George Pataki, by the—here‘s what he was reacting
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Limbaugh just in the last two weeks, fellows. I want
Eric to grade these points he‘s made. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Of course, who is dividing
America? It‘s Obama. He looks at people of color as the genuine owners of
the world‘s wealth who have been shut out of it. Guess what, Faisal
Shahzad is a registered Democrat. I wonder if his SUV had an Obama sticker
This is an administration that is not of this country.
Obama knows who his real enemies are. And there are many more of them
in Arizona than there are apparently in Iran.
My friends, this regime in its day-to-day actions is far more Nazi-
like than any identification law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Eric, when people listen to this stuff, when you hear this
commentary coming out of him—this stuff that the blacks believe they own
everything rightfully and Obama is going to give it back to them. These
are amazing statements, that Shahzad is a registered Democrat. It just
pours out of this guy.
And I‘m laughing my butt off here because it sounds so hilarious. Do
people buy it?
BURNS: Yes. Rush—look, Rush Limbaugh has a very, very big and
devoted audience, and they believe everything that he says. That‘s the
problem, Chris, because most of what comes out of his mouth is a lie. And
these absurd accusations. Of course Shahzad was not a registered Democrat.
Rush also suggested the Fort Hood shooter was just like Obama and that that
shooting was Obama‘s fault.
Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh suggested that the financial collapse in
Greece was also Obama‘s fault. He attacked Kagan and Obama 12 times
yesterday on his radio show. And he has a legion of folks that think what
Rush says is the Bible.
MATTHEWS: Hold on, Eric. Here he is right now doing what you said,
talking about Kagan yesterday. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: I know I‘m despised by the regime. And in my way of
thinking I‘m disadvantaged, because I‘m a target of the regime. But I know
full well that neither Thurgood Marshall nor Elena Kagan has me in mind
when they talk about despised and disadvantaged. They‘re looking at me and
people like me as the oppressors, the architects of the despised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Absolute hilarity. I‘m convinced, Corn—I‘m absolutely
convinced he‘s a genius at one thing, constituency politics. He has a
constituency, traveling salesman, mostly men, mostly white men, driving
around trying to make a buck, working their butts off, feeling oppressed.
They‘re feeling like nobody appreciates them. The boss keeps raising the
sales quota. The wife at home, the spouse, doesn‘t know how hard he works.
The kids don‘t even know what he does. There‘s one guy rooting for them
against the femi-Nazis, against affirmative action, against minorities.
He‘s the oppressed minority, that white guy in that car. And this guy,
Rush Limbaugh, plays to this guy. He panders to him. He teases him with
the ideal notion that he‘s the victim. It‘s brilliant. It‘s brilliant.
CORN: You‘re right, it‘s a matter of supply and demand. I mean, he
makes tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the basis of
peddling this stuff to people who want to listen. I think we can—it‘s
wrong. You know, Eric is right. It‘s full of untruths and lies and it‘s
hateful. But it does contribute to an overall atmosphere, just because of
the reach he has. And when you go around saying that Obama is Nazi-like,
that people in his government are part of a regime, and they‘re not of this
country—you know, what does that give people a license to think? More
importantly, to do?
If they really are an internal enemy, what do you do with internal
enemies? You try to eradicate them. So, you know, he is sending messages,
and he‘s confirming perhaps the worst impulses that people might have
towards the Obama administration. It‘s one thing to disagree with policy
and to argue about things, even to get your facts wrong when you do so.
Under the Constitution, you‘re allowed to do that.
But to sort of generate this atmosphere where people look at Obama as
sort of a secret, hidden, internal enemy, a traitor who wants to undo this
country, well, you know, that‘s really throwing oil onto the fire.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Well said. Thank you, David Corn. Thank you,
Eric Burns. We‘ll have you back, Eric Burns. Keep an eye on everything.
And remember, any Republican who is willing to denounce Rush-Baugh‘s
rhetoric, just come on the air. We‘d love to watch. We‘ll give you a full
platform. Of course, you‘ve got to be careful what he does to you. Please
call us here at HARDBALL and we‘ll put you on. Remember, that‘s the deal,
you have to challenge Rush-Baugh. No games here. If you don‘t challenger
Rush-Baugh and come on this show, we‘re going to nail you.
We‘ve got the best political ads of 2010 coming up. It‘s going to be
some fun coming here, a real novelty act, what the pols are saying right
But first, an update on Beau Biden, the son of the vice president.
Doctors say that Beau Biden, if you haven‘t heard, suffered a mild stroke
and is being moved from a Delaware medical center to a hospital in
Philadelphia for further observation. The vice president with his son, and
says Beau is alert, with full motor and speech skills. So it maybe isn‘t
that bad. The 41-year-old Beau Biden is the attorney general of Delaware.
More HARDBALL after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Can a political ad influence an
election? That‘s a good question. Some can, apparently. And we pulled
some of our favorites of this year. We‘ll rate them with radio talk show
host and MSNBC political analyst Michael Smerconish, a great man to have
Let‘s watch an Arlen Specter ad. It just came out. He‘s fallen
behind in the polls. He‘s about four points down in the tracking. Let‘s
see if this will pull him out of the trouble. Let‘s watch, just out now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama and newspapers across Pennsylvania
agree, Arlen Specter is the real deal.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say a few
things about Arlen Specter. He came to fight for the working men and women
of Pennsylvania. And Arlen Specter cast the deciding vote in favor of a
Recovery Act that has helped pull us back from the brink, because you know
he‘s going to fight for you, regardless of what the politics are.
SEN ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I‘m Arlen Specter and I approve
OBAMA: I love you and I love Arlen Specter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I love Arlen Specter. Here‘s a Specter ad from 2004 that
looks a bit like the one we just saw that‘s just out. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three for Pennsylvania, Santorum, Specter, Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m here to say
this as plainly as I can, Arlen Specter is the right man for the United
States Senate. I can count on this man. See, that‘s important. He‘s a
firm ally when it matters most. I‘m proud to tell you I think he‘s earned
another term as United States senator.
SPECTER: I‘m Arlen Specter and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, it‘s a hoot, Michael. It‘s just a hoot. These
politicians—if you‘re not with the one you love, love the one you‘re
with. What is the ad saying here?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, the film footage from
commercial number two is also on the air now in terms of a Sestak anti-
Specter commercial that is running. And that‘s what caused commercial
number one with the president to then be shown by the Specter folks.
There‘s a week left, Chris. These are big bombshells that have been
dropped in Pennsylvania. They‘re very effective.
It makes me wonder what‘s going to take place in the next six days,
because you think this is the way they‘re going to finish the race.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Specter‘s got himself a big negative bombshell
to drop on this guy, some unpleasantness to wield in this campaign in the
last minute? Some negative?
SMERCONISH: I think Arlen Specter plays hard ball when necessary. I
thought going after Joe Sestak and saying, with documentation, that he was
relieved of his command and demanding that the Navy records be released,
which hasn‘t happened—I thought that was pretty devastating. So that‘s
already been dropped. I‘m not sure what else is out there, frankly.
MATTHEWS: Terry McDonough (ph) told me the other day, the pollster
out in Lancaster, that the irony of that ad is although it did hurt a bit,
it also helped a bit because it told people about Joe Sestak‘s 31 years in
the Navy. They didn‘t know about this guy‘s military record. Arlen, in a
weird way, informed them of it. It‘s so weird.
Let‘s take a look now at John McCain. Talk about a switcheroo. Let‘s
listen to the latest John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: Drug and human smuggling, home
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re out-manned. Of all the illegals in America,
more than half come through Arizona.
MCCAIN: Have we got the right plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plan‘s perfect. You bring troops, state, county
and local law enforcement together.
MCCAIN: And complete the dang fence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will work this time. Senator, you‘re one of
MCCAIN: I‘m John McCain and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, you know, it‘s almost—I don‘t want to say anything.
This guy served his country as a POW. It just seems like one of those—
did he do this under duress? I don‘t know what to make of this, Michael.
SMERCONISH: If I had typed transcript of that commercial and I were
to show it to you, Chris, a couple of weeks ago, and I were to say to you,
is it a J.D. Hayworth commercial or is it a John McCain commercial, you‘re
a pretty smart guy, I think you would have selected J.D. Hayworth. It‘s
amazing just how far McCain has moved to the right in the waning days of
MATTHEWS: Let‘s watch John McCain, himself, back in a presidential
debate in 2007. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: America is still the land of opportunity, and it is a beacon
of hope and liberty. And as Ronald Reagan said, a shining city on the
hill. We‘re not going to erect barriers and fences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re not going to erect barriers and fences, and there he
is a minuteman, out there, guarding the fence.
SMERCONISH: The kitchen sinks are all being thrown in. I think the
attitude is the hell with November, let‘s hope that we get to November.
We‘ll worry about that over the course of the summer and we‘ll be ready for
Labor Day weekend. Right now, it‘s all on the line for these guys and
they‘re using whatever they‘ve got.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go through the analysis. We asked you up front,
Michael—you‘re on the radio every morning for hours. You listen to a
great number of people. By the way, you have a great audience, a lot of
suburbanite people, a lot of people watching the issues. It seems to me
what they‘re doing in that ad—what Specter is doing, just as an example,
he‘s trying to get the African-American vote out in west Philly and north
Philly. He‘s trying to get that vote out, that city machine vote. Is that
what that Obama ad was about?
SMERCONISH: Going after the Democratic base, that core constituency
in southeast Pennsylvania, no doubt about it. Same reason that Vice
President Biden was on my radio program this morning, as a matter of fact,
talking to that same group.
MATTHEWS: I‘m glad we could show them the Bush ad to go with it, to
show a little honesty in this game. Thank you, Michael Smerconish, as
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about taxes.
Surprising stuff, last year, Americans paid the lowest level of taxes in 60
years. But you‘d never know it listening to the right wing in this
country. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a fact. At times, facts can be
upsetting. They can also be illuminating. Have we been paying higher
taxes under President Obama? That‘s a real zinger when you listen to the
right. Look at the signs. Hear the screaming. Check the racket on the
radio. He‘s killing us with taxes, you hear? Killing us.
Well, as the great man, Senator Patrick Moynihan of New York once
said, we‘re entitled to our own opinions, not to our own facts. Here they
are: in the first year of the Obama administration, the total tax load on
the American people came to 9.2 percent of personal income, a bit less than
one tenth. That‘s the lowest piece of our income the government has taken
since 1950, six decades ago.
You know, when Harry Truman was walking those walks around the White
House. Like everyone else, I stare at my gross income and then at what I
actually get and I wish I got that first number. What I can‘t do is say
that taxes in this country went up last year because they didn‘t.
Today‘s Tea Partiers were inspired by something cNBC‘s Rick Santelli
once said or Rush Limbaugh said or somebody said, fair enough. They‘re
entitled to their opinion, and their own passions. Even if they are a tad
But not to their own facts. Under Obama, thanks to the Stimulus Bill,
thanks to the progressive rates based on income, we paid less taxes. As I
said, sometimes facts can be upsetting. They can also be illuminating.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Before we go, we
want to send our best wishes to our friend and everybody respects here,
Barbara Walters, who is undergoing heart surgery this week. Good luck,
Barbara. Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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