Guests: Eric Bates, Edward Luce, Steve Scalise, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
Bakari Sellers, Todd Rutherford, Howard Fineman, Lynn Sweet
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Charging cover-up.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Hiding the horror? Here are two ways to look at how much oil has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The Associated Press says if you put the oil in gallon jugs and lined them up, they‘d go from the rig across the Atlantic to London and then on to Rome. Or as “The New York Times” puts it, we are experiencing the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez disaster every eight or ten days.
Add to that NBC News‘s Lisa Myers‘s report last night that the government has been lowballing the spill numbers, and you have a disaster far worse, perhaps up to 100 times worse, than BP confessed initially. The latest on the spill, the numbers and the damage, at the top of the show.
Rahm Emanuel once famously said you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Well, why doesn‘t the president seize this moment, make this disaster his environmental 9/11, and push through an energy bill that forces this country to embrace green technology?
Plus, the curious case of Alvin Greene. He won South Carolina‘s Democratic Senate primary despite having no campaign structure, no campaign really, no Web site, no fundraising, no ads and apparently no clue. U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn thinks he‘s a Republican plant. Is it possible? A real-life stooge?
Also, one of Tuesday‘s biggest winners may not even have been on the ballot. Sarah Palin backed winners in Iowa and in South Carolina and now has friends in two key presidential nominating states. It‘s exactly what Nixon did before winning in 1968.
And the Georgia congressman who compared the health care bill to what he called that “war of Yankee aggression” now says if we cut our dependence on oil, people will die. People will die. Check out the “Sideshow” tonight.
Let‘s start with the numbers game in the oil spill. Eric Bates is the executive editor of “Rolling Stone” magazine. Editor—Rick—Eric Bates, I‘m so impressed by this piece. Tell me what you think was the lowballing by the U.S. government.
First, I want to give you this. Here‘s how the oil leak estimates have varied since the rig collapsed initially. On April 24th, the Coast Guard official in charge quoted BP‘s estimate of 1,000 barrels a day. On April 28th, then the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—that‘s NOAA—upped it to as much as 5,000 barrel as day. On May 27, a group of scientists under Admiral Thad Allen‘s direction bumped it way up to 12,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil per day.
And just yesterday, we learned that the amount spewing into the gulf before the riser was cut last week was more like 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day. This report—well, it just gets worse.
Is it your sense, based upon your reporting by your magazine and later confirmed by NBC News‘s Lisa Myers, that the initial numbers were way under reality?
ERIC BATES, “ROLLING STONE”: Well, it was clear the initial numbers were way under what they knew could be the worst-case scenario. The—we have footage from the war room hours after the rig sank that shows that they knew the worst-case scenario was 64,000 to 110,000 barrels. That doesn‘t mean that they had any way of knowing at that moment that that‘s what it was. But they were going out with that thousand-barrel number based on initially some pretty misleading information from BP.
But even so, a week later, when they upped it to 5,000 barrels, they continued with that number for weeks and weeks, long after they knew that BP‘s own internal estimate showed something about three times higher than that, and they‘ve continued to push back against any suggestion that it‘s higher, even while they keep raising the estimate.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s get back to those numbers so people have something to think about over the weekend. BP initially, as we all remember, said 1,000. And then, according to the marking right there on that blackboard—you see that number there -- 64,000 to 110,000 is the high number. So they knew at least in the beginning, NOAA did, that it was perhaps 100 times what BP was saying it was -- 100 times!
BATES: One of the experts...
MATTHEWS: And yet they let the one—and then—yet they let the low number, 1,000 barrels a day, rather than potentially 110,000, get into the public mind as probably about right.
BATES: They certainly...
MATTHEWS: Why would they let that happen?
BATES: Well, they certainly weren‘t letting those numbers out. And in the initial fog of war, you can kind of imagine that they had a lot of numbers flying at them, and it might have taken them some time to sort that out.
The real question is why have they continued to use these lower numbers long after the point that their own scientists and a lot of independent scientists were telling them that they were ridiculously low. It‘s hard to answer that question. It‘s a question I think they need to answer.
It‘s clear that they were in a politically tricky situation because only three weeks before the explosion, they went out, the administration, and announced a big expansion of offshore drilling. So suddenly, they were on the side of offshore drilling, and that created a problem for them.
MATTHEWS: Who is Elizabeth Birnbaum? She was head of MMS, the Minerals Management Service, coming at the—at the Interior Department, in charge of monitoring the safety and ensuring the safety of the oil digging and drilling out there. Who is she? She‘s been bumped right out of office. But it took President Obama quite a bit of time to make sure she was gone.
BATES: It took a while to make sure she was gone. And there continue to be for the past year, a lot of Bush-era appointees and kind of industry lackeys in at MMS, when the administration knew that that agency had been severely corrupted and marginalized under the Bush administration and that the policies they had in place were favorable to industry and were designed to circumvent environmental review and fast-track permits. And they hadn‘t done what they needed to do to get that agency cleaned up.
MATTHEWS: Was this just a question of finding a place for Elizabeth Birnbaum? Was it in the plum book, as we call it in Washington, a fairly high-paying civil service job, somebody who had been in that pay level, that pay grade, just dumping her over there, getting her a job—she needs a job, give her a job. They‘ve got something open over in Interior, something to do with the oil industry, blah, blah, blah. Was it that casual, from your reporting?
BATES: It‘s hard to tell. I mean, what‘s remarkable is how much they knew, how much of an emphasis they placed on cleaning up that agency, and how little they did to actually clean it up in the year that they had. Ken Salazar called himself “the new sheriff in town,” made a big deal, a big splash out of saying he was going to go after that particular agency, and didn‘t get the job done.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this whole question. You know, the only reason I think this public gets really ripped about this is because we‘re not only looking at these pictures, which are ghastly enough, yucky enough, horrible enough, the destruction of our southern part of our continent, of North America, but we see this gusher and we see it with what we call the live bug. If you look at the bottom of the screen on the left when we show it, you see that word “live” usually. It‘s not there right now, but usually, it‘s there. It says “live.” And that tells the people that what they‘re watching is reality today, at this very second.
I think that has a lot of power. In our business of television, people are usually alert to the word “live,” and when they see it, they come alive because they say, Great, this isn‘t something that was done or two three days ago or a movie from the 1950s or ‘60s, this is reality. What about do you think—what do you think the power has been to the public of that picture we‘re looking at?
BATES: Oh, the power of that picture is incredible. I was really struck that when President Obama held his press conference in which he sort of issued a mea culpa and said, OK, we weren‘t on top of this enough, we‘re going to get it done now, while he was speaking at the press conference, that bug was in the corner of the screen, real-time, showing the spill.
It‘s hard to imagine the networks doing the same thing under Bush, with photos of people on the roofs of Katrina or photos from Abu Ghraib, in the same way, this kind of direct, if not contradiction at least, very alarming imagery running simultaneously with the president‘s own appearance.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the networks were afraid of Bush?
BATES: I think that there—it‘s striking that there‘s been this piling on of Obama in the use of that footage even while he was giving a presidential address, in a way that I don‘t really recall seeing under Bush.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I wasn‘t afraid of Bush, if you noticed. Anyway, thank you very much, Eric Bates. I was very much against him on the war. But thank you so much. Great reporting by your magazine.
Edward Luce is the Washington bureau chief of “The Financial Times” the fabulous “FT” of—well, it‘s London. I hate to say London these days, but let‘s go with it—the “FT,” the fabulous newspaper. It really is.
Sir, thank you for joining us. What do you make about this decision by BP to put the money that was going to go to dividends to their stockholders in escrow? What are they up to?
EDWARD LUCE, “FINANCIAL TIMES”: Well, it appears to be publicly—public-relations driven. As you know, next Wednesday, Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, is meeting Barack Obama, President Obama, in the Oval Office, along with other senior BP executives.
They‘re aware, I think rather belatedly, what a disastrous PR effort they‘ve made hitherto, some of the things Eric Bates was talking about, the low-balling of the estimates. And I think there‘s an attempt here, not just with the suspension of the dividend, or the probable suspension, at least for a couple of the months of the dividend, but also putting the 2.5 billion pounds into an escrow account—there‘s an attempt to try, perhaps belatedly, and staunch some of the damage to its PR.
MATTHEWS: Well, by putting the money in escrow, does it protect it for the stockholders or protect it from the stockholders?
LUCE: That‘s what‘s not clear yet. They‘ve only given out very minimal details. I think, first and foremost, this is a public relations decision to say both to the American public that, We‘re—we‘re ring-fencing money here that can be used to pay for clean-up costs...
LUCE: ... but also to British shareholders to say, Look, this money, you know, is still there. Our decision doesn‘t mean to say we can‘t afford to pay you. It can be interpreted both ways.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the sense in Britain among the people—they‘re not wealthy people. A lot of them are retirees on pensions who have BP stock. Is there a sense that there are a lot of people, you know, fortune-cookie hunters, or do they think the—as we say in America, people that are just looking for money when they don‘t deserve it—or do they think the people who‘ve been hurt by this oil spill have a right to the money in terms of claims?
LUCE: I think people think that they have a right to the money. I‘ve been—you know, I‘m based here in America, so I‘ve been immersed in this whole narrative about President Obama not showing enough passion, not showing enough anger. So it‘s taken me slightly from left field to hear that in Britain, that the view is quite the opposite, that he‘s showing too much anger, that he‘s showing too much passion in targeting BP.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Isn‘t that interesting.
LUCE: You know, there are very—two very different emotional political climates each side of the Atlantic.
MATTHEWS: I think, actually, in all fairness to your observation, it‘s the same as mine, but I think that the president hasn‘t been angry, but I think the media has been very tough. This network and others in print have been very tough on this situation because it looks like BP‘s calling the shots. It looks like the president has been lenient in accepting their numbers.
And this shocking news that we‘re sharing tonight, sir, that—coming from Lisa Myers‘s report last night and understanding more and more, thanks to the conversation we‘ve just had with Eric Bates of “Rolling Stone,” that the numbers that we were getting about what was coming out of that well are totally underestimated, 1,000 barrels a day, as compared to up to 110,000 barrels. Talk about bad information!
If we had sports reporting like this in America or Britain, people would be revolutionary! They would insist on at least getting the scores right on the game the night before. Here we have something far more important, and people are sitting back saying, Oh, that‘s interesting. They‘re 100 percent off—in fact, 100 times off.
LUCE: Yes, I mean, it‘s deeply shocking. And it‘s not just over the estimate. That‘s the most important low-balling, but it‘s not just over that. As recently as last week, BP officials were downplaying the idea that the oil slick could get anywhere near Florida. And of course, tarballs are now washing up in Pensacola and elsewhere.
So it‘s—it‘s been—and then, of course, their very optimistic estimates about whether their containment efforts would work, from “top kill” onwards. So it‘s been a repeated pattern on BP‘s part to completely mismanage expectations. And I think, as you‘re implying, certainly, from where I‘m sitting, for the administration, for the White House, at least some of the time, to be in two minds, conniving with those—with those...
LUCE: ... expectations.
MATTHEWS: Edward, thank you. And tell any relatives you might have back in the UK that we‘re not going to repeat the idiocy of the last administration, where they created this notion that the French were the bad people because we had a clownish act in the White House that thought the way to rally the American people together was to attack another country, like the French, with the French fries, the “freedom fries,” all that absurdity. I don‘t think this president or any president of any account would ever do that again to any other country. We love the Brits. In fact, I happen to like the French, too.
Anyway, thank you, sir.
LUCE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Will the oil crisis push President Obama to seize the moment and change our energy policy to be more environmentally sane?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Democrat Jerry Brown or Republican Meg Whitman. That‘s the choice given to Californians voting for a new governor this November. It‘s the symbol for political year 2010, a career politician versus a CEO, insider versus outsider, old versus new, experience versus inexperience, government versus corporate, and of course, male versus female. And although the striking distances are—differences are there, early polls show that after the Tuesday primary, it‘s a dead heat out there. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time has come once and for all for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future.
OBAMA: And Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can. I will work with anyone to get this done, and we will get it done!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sounds good. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama earlier this month up in Pittsburgh. Can he tap into the worst oil spill in U.S. history and wrangle the votes to push through an energy bill that forces this country to embrace a green future?
Democratic congressman (SIC) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is a Democrat from Florida and Republican congressman Steve Scalise is a Louisiana guy. He‘s a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a Republican, and he‘s casual for us today.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, I want you to take a listen to what Senator Tom Coburn—he‘s from an oil patch state, like you. He‘s from Oklahoma. He said this about the EPA‘s plans to regulate carbon emissions. Quote, “It would be stupid for us to do this now, when the rest of the world is not coming along at all. Even if it is the right thing to do, now is not the time to do it.”
What do you make of a congressperson, or a senator in this case, who says he doesn‘t want to do the right thing because other people aren‘t doing it?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), ENERGY & COMMERCE CMT.: Well first of all, Chris, I think that it‘s really a shame that the president is trying to capitalize upon our disaster in shifting—instead of focusing on helping us recover and doing his job, which he‘s not doing on the ground, he‘s talking about this cap-and-trade energy tax, which I don‘t think is the real answer for energy policy because it would run millions of jobs overseas and it would make our country more dependent on Middle Eastern oil. So that‘s not the answer.
MATTHEWS: What should we do to change our dependence—or remove our dependence on fossil fuels in the future? Looking down the road to the fact we‘re not going to have fossil fuel, looking down the road, where we know it‘s dangerous to the climate at some point—at some point—how are we going to shift to new energy sources, sir? How are we going to do it?
SCALISE: I‘d like to see—I‘d like to see us using an “all of the above” strategy, Chris, where we actually don‘t just use our domestic energy resources, but we also do more to explore wind and solar. But you‘ve got to recognize wind and solar aren‘t going to get us where we need to be alone. We need to do more nuclear power. We need to move more to natural gas and clean coal technology. And fossil fuel‘s going to be a part of that, but we need to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
And his plan not only raises taxes and runs millions of jobs overseas, it increases our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. So it‘s the wrong approach to an energy policy. I‘d rather see us go in a direction that actually uses American innovation and technology instead of one that puts more taxes and runs more jobs out of our country.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, is there a Republican energy plan? Or is it just to say no to your plan?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, the Republican energy plan has been driven by slogans: drill, baby, drill; all of the above.
None of those things are going to make sure that we can create green jobs, millions of green jobs, and not get beat by China and India when it comes to the innovation that Congressman Scalise is talking about.
I mean, I—believe me, I come from a Gulf state, one that depends on a $65 billion tourism industry, a coastline that is most pristine in the country, and one that is potentially facing the oil that has leaked out of the rig off of—of Steve‘s shoreline.
We—if this isn‘t an example of why we need to wean ourselves off of our dependence on oil, period, and focus on the American innovation that we know is possible, so that we can create renewable sources of energy, then I don‘t know what is. But all of the above is not...
MATTHEWS: What is the—I‘m a big deal-maker. I love deals. I love the old-time Senate, where they cut deals in Congress and they moved forward. They didn‘t just bitch and take positions and give press releases and make speeches. They actually could say, a year later, something got done during that year.
Now, I want to ask you, Congressman, is there a chance here to move ahead with an energy transition based upon, say, Dick Lugar‘s plan? Is there something Lindsey Graham‘s moving to over there?
Let‘s look at this. Here‘s Mitch McConnell‘s position, which I think is not a position. He said: “What I believe most of my members, if not all of them, will not be interested in is seizing on the oil spill in the Gulf and using that as a rationale, if you will, for passing a national energy tax referred to down here at the White House as cap and trade.”
Now, that‘s a negative position. What is the positive position in
terms of moving forward? And do you support some kind of negotiation with
the Democrats, which never seems to get done in this presidency? You guys
McConnell from day one has said you guys‘ platform is no. That‘s your platform.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what...
MATTHEWS: Is he right? Is McConnell right? The smartest move for your party is to screw things up for the next couple of years, right through November, get the country completely bollixed up, and they will vote Republican out of desperation, and you will have more power? Is that the strategy of the Republican Party this year? Because McConnell says it is.
SCALISE: Yes, first of all, Chris, I‘m a co-sponsor of a bill called the American Energy Act, which is a comprehensive energy plan. The president has refused to meet with Republicans who have an alternative idea, because he wants to just go out there and say, falsely, that we‘re just the party of no. We have got bills.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That‘s just not true, and you know it, Steve.
Give me a break.
SCALISE: But, Debbie, we have got a bill. You might not like our bill. You might want a tax on energy, when the president‘s own budget director said it would add over $1,200 a year on energy taxes.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. What I want is for you to actually be willing to come to the table. Come to the table.
SCALISE: Oh, I will be happy to come to the table, but not to raise taxes, not to run millions of jobs out of our country.
SCALISE: And, so, that‘s the difference.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That‘s the easy way out the Republicans always go...
MATTHEWS: Would we be better off weaning ourself on fossil fuel over time, Congressman? Would we be better off? Just a simple question would we be better off weaning ourselves from oil over time, all oil?
SCALISE: I think we all recognize we need to do more to promote alternative sources of energy. But nobody is suggesting that you‘re going to be able to put a wind turbine on the top of your car and drive around. So, we have got to be realistic about energy policy as well.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That‘s the long way to say, no, they don‘t, because they have a very short-sighted view of what we can do in terms of renewable fuels. We—oil...
SCALISE: Well, we have got a plan.
MATTHEWS: We know we‘re moving there. Let‘s not act like we‘re all troglodytes, neither one of you.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have to.
MATTHEWS: The fact—we‘re moving towards hybrid cars. we‘re moving towards electric cars.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Electric car.
MATTHEWS: ... solar works in some cases, where the climate has a lot of heat, a lot of sun, air. Wind works with there‘s a lot of wind, North Dakota, places like that.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, let‘s just go positively. Is there a future for an alternative to oil? Is there a future for that, yes or no?
SCALISE: Oh, yes, there is.
MATTHEWS: Or are we going to always need oil? Will we always need oil?
SCALISE: Well, I think, if you continue to promote alternative sources of energy, you will ultimately get to a point where you can replace it. We‘re not there yet and we‘re not anywhere close. Let‘s work to get there.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But we have to make the investment.
SCALISE: But by taxing energy, running millions of jobs out of our country, that is not the answer.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have to make the investments that we need to—we have to use American ingenuity, American innovation.
Steve and his colleagues have to be willing to stop saying no and sit down at the table with Democrats and work out a renewable energy plan that focuses on getting...
MATTHEWS: I want to go to the congresswoman first. I want to ask you both...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you said no to that, too.
SCALISE: Yes, and look how well it‘s worked, billions of dollars in debt, and it didn‘t work. We‘re losing jobs.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, get out of here.
MATTHEWS: You said that president won‘t meet with you guys.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have gone from bleeding 700,000-plus jobs to creating 400,000 jobs.
MATTHEWS: Can we take two minutes here, ladies and gentlemen, to try to have a negotiation?
MATTHEWS: Congressman, let me ask you this.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Scalise...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... economy Obama inherited from George Bush.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Scalise, let me ask you, you said you can‘t meet with the president. What would you do with the president, I mean in the middle of the table, not on your side of the table, going towards the center, meeting halfway with Markey and those guys on the cap and trade side?
Is there something in the middle that could get done between now at the end of the year which you reasonably believe would be a compromise, sir?
SCALISE: I think the first thing that we need to do is, let‘s put some things on the table. But the president has got to take new taxes off the table.
Our economy is suffering right now, mostly because of the bad policies coming out of Washington. And they continue to raise more taxes, and it‘s crippling our economy. So, the president has got to take new taxes off of the table.
MATTHEWS: What are you putting on?
SCALISE: And his cap and trade bill has billions of dollars in new taxes.
MATTHEWS: What are you putting on the table? What are you willing to compromise on?
SCALISE: Let‘s look at how to utilize our resources in this country today to go and invest in those technologies of the future, but by using innovation and incentives, not taxes and running millions of jobs out of our country.
So, there‘s a different approach, but, hopefully, we can sit down. I know the president doesn‘t want to meet with us. He would rather just bash us. He won‘t even meet with us to talk about the problems we‘re dealing with right now in the Gulf, where we have laid out some real ideas to fix our solutions.
The president today—I was in Grand Isle today, all day, meeting with local responders. And guess what, Chris? They still are getting told no by this president and this administration on plans to protect the marsh, still to this day.
MATTHEWS: OK. All I know is, the president went up to your Republican retreat and met with all you congresspeople. He also went to Blair House and met with all of your leaders.
MATTHEWS: I do know he does meet with you. But I‘m not sure meeting is the issue here. It‘s compromise on both sides.
Do you think you can compromise from your side, Congresswoman?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Absolutely. If the Republicans would be willing to sit down around the table and...
MATTHEWS: What I see here...
MATTHEWS: What do I see? If the Titanic sank today, you know what the Republicans would be saying? Don‘t be telling the shipping lines they need more life rafts or life preservers. Don‘t get involved with industry telling them what to do.
At some point, the government has to intervene, because the private sector is not doing the job. The private sector is what we‘re seeing on that live bug every night on television.
By the way, Congressman, that‘s the work of the private sector without regulation. That‘s what it looks like without being taxed heavily.
SCALISE: Well, but the federal government is the regulator, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Your oil patch people have been getting away for centuries without paying taxes.
You have had the biggest tax breaks in the world because you have controlled the Ways and Means Committee. You have controlled the Finance Committees and the regulating committees to the point there is no regulation of safety.
MATTHEWS: You have had your way. So, that works. And we‘re seeing it every night on the air.
SCALISE: If the Titanic sank today, I‘m sure the president would try to blame it on George Bush. And we have seen where that has gotten us.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s not useful.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: BP...
SCALISE: If you look, we have got real solutions, and the president still to this day isn‘t working with us.
MATTHEWS: OK. We have got to go.
MATTHEWS: I like arguing.
Thank you, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir. Thanks for coming in here on Friday, Congressman Scalise, Republican from Louisiana.
SCALISE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Tim Pawlenty talks about what it takes to run for president. That‘s in the “Sideshow.” Wait until you hear him tonight. He is really funny.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First: the right stuff. Outgoing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty stopped by “The Daily Show” last night to talk about what it takes to run for president. Wait until you catch this. Watch what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: Mostly, to run nationally, you have to be rich...
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: Right.
PAWLENTY: ... famous, or you got to have some kind of shtick or novelty. I‘m not rich.
STEWART: What do you mean, like a ventriloquist dummy?
STEWART: I think that‘s probably true.
PAWLENTY: I don‘t have a billion dollars.
PAWLENTY: I don‘t have novelty. I don‘t have a big shtick. But what I do have is that...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: No, no, no, I think I heard what you said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, shtick, as opposed to stick, is the Yiddish word for
quote—“a characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that‘s helpful in securing recognition or attention.” Now you know.
Next, remember Congressman Paul Broun? He‘s the Republican from Georgia who compared the Obama health care bill to the great war of Yankee aggression. You know, the Civil War? Well, now he‘s got more scare talk about Democrats trying to get an energy bill through Congress. Here he is doing what he does, scaring the hell out of folks back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA: A lot of old people in—in Georgia and Florida and all out through the Southeast and through the Southwest are dependent upon their air conditioning just to live. And if their electricity—electricity bills are going sky-high, as the energy tax is going to make that happen, if that ever passes, there are a lot of people that can‘t afford to run the air conditioning anymore.
And their body temperature is going to go up. They‘re going to get dehydration, and people are going to have a lot of problems. And it‘s going to make a greater impact on our health care system, and people are going to die because of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Going to die. People are going to die if they try doing anything but stick with oil. They‘re going to die. Now, there‘s the positive voice of democracy.
Up next: He‘s unemployed and faces a felony charge and has not reported any fund-raising. So, how did Alvin Greene win the Democratic Senate nomination in South Carolina?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks snapping a three-week losing streak, despite a surprise drop in retail sales. The Dow Jones industrials adding 38 points to finished nearly 3 percent higher on the week, the S&P 500 tacking on a little bit more than four points and the Nasdaq jumping 25 points.
A bit of a struggle for stocks today as investors bounced a better-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment without slowdown in retail. Sales of everything from cars to clothing slumping unexpectedly in May.
Building materials took the biggest hit, down more than 9 percent.
But then came the reading on consumer sentiment jumping to its highest level in 30 months. Shoppers are still anxious about jobs and credit, but they‘re all also still willing to spend.
In stocks, Motorola shares surging 4 percent after settling a patent dispute with Research In Motion. And Wendy‘s shares sizzling today on reports of a potential buyout offer from an unnamed group.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Democratic nominee for Senate in South Carolina won Tuesday‘s primary with more than 100,000 votes and a 60 percent share of the vote. But there‘s little evidence, almost none at all, really, that he ever campaigned or that anyone ever heard of him.
Here‘s the nominee, Alvin Greene, on last night‘s “COUNTDOWN WITH
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN”)
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”: Did you have a lot of campaign meetings?
ALVIN GREENE (D), SOUTH CAROLINA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I had just a few meetings, not many.
OLBERMANN: Did you have campaign rallies?
GREENE: Nothing formal, just informal rallies—just informal meetings, rather.
OLBERMANN: Did you go door to door to meet the voters? How did they find out who you were?
GREENE: I just conducted a simple old-fashioned campaign, you know, all across the state of South Carolina.
OLBERMANN: Much fund-raising did you do?
GREENE: Not much. I raised—I mean, I used my own funds up to this point in the primary and up until right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know what to make of this. Let‘s find out.
For more of what‘s going on down there in South Carolina, we‘re joined by two Democratic members of the South Carolina Statehouse, Bakari—
Bakari Sellers and Todd Rutherford.
Mr. Sellers, first of all, Representative, let me ask you, have you ever heard of this fellow before?
BAKARI SELLERS (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Mr.
Matthews, I can tell you thanks for the opportunity first.
But we heard about him when he was on the ballot. And after he won his election, Mr. Rutherford and I took some time out to meet with him. And what I learned yesterday after about an hour was that either his victory was the result of some talent or some divine intervention. And in light of some of the things that came out...
SELLERS: ... I felt as if it was my duty to at least talk to Mr. Greene and ask him to bow out after listening to the victim and her family and say there are some things we need to get past before we move forward, Mr. Greene.
And that kind of went on deaf ears.
Mr. Rutherford, is he a stooge? Is Mr. Greene what we call in politics a stooge, somebody who is just set up by somebody with wealth or some chicanery went into this, and they just got the guy to put his name on the ballot; they paid for his filing fee; and he‘s just a name they used for some weird reason?
What do you think, Mr. Rutherford? What do you know?
TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You know, Chris, it‘s hard to tell.
We talked to him for about 30 minutes. And I can tell by talking to him that maybe his mental faculties weren‘t all there.
RUTHERFORD: And that‘s disturbing, because, if they did use him, they certainly chose the wrong person. It‘s not funny if he doesn‘t get the joke. And I repeated that over and over again, because, in talking to him, he talked about this statewide campaign.
And he didn‘t do a statewide campaign. He didn‘t have any rallies. He didn‘t do anything. I doubt he even left the house. And he beat someone who was crisscrossing the state, trying to get people to vote for him, trying to get his name recognition up.
And I think—I think he just simply benefited because his name was first on the ballot. I talked to a lot of people, and a lot of people voted for him. They can‘t tell me why. They just said that, hey, they saw the name, they pushed the button, and they didn‘t know he was going to win. That doesn‘t mean, if he was crazy, if that‘s what he is—I don‘t mean to say that in a disturbing moment. But if he is, he has a right to run.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Sellers, do you think he was picked because his name preceded the other guy‘s name, Mr. Roie‘s (ph), on the alphabet? They just wanted someone with an earlier name on the alphabet?
SELLERS: I think that what we saw last week was evidence of two people running campaigns that were decently lackluster. And individuals when they went in the voting booth, they didn‘t have knowledge of either candidate, so they chose. I think that you would be accurate in saying that Mr. Greene did benefit from his name being first on the ballot. And I think that‘s a tragedy and a shame.
MATTHEWS: Are you offended—this is always tricky, because you never know motive. But I‘m a Caucasian and I smell bad values here. I just want this fellow—I think he has a problem in recognizing what‘s going on, for whatever reason. Mr. Rutherford, I don‘t think he‘s aware fully of how he‘s being pictured here. Or he‘s probably embarrassed a bit.
But do you think the idea that—the fact that he‘s a member of the African-American community down there, which is making strides in politics and doing—and reaching positions they haven‘t had before. Do you think there‘s an attempt to humiliate African-Americans with this guy‘s candidacy? Mr. Rutherford?
RUTHERFORD: Absolutely. And Chris, let me tell you, I couldn‘t figure out exactly why somebody would do this until you watch it play out. What you have—I had a former council member call me today. And he said, listen, I don‘t appreciate the Democratic party attacking this young man just because he won. If they don‘t like him, that‘s on them. They haven‘t proven that he did a thing wrong. And so you‘ve got just the division within our party of Democrats and black Democrats saying why are they doing this to him, if all he did was win an election. It‘s not his fault that he won.
Here‘s a young man, as you stated, that doesn‘t understand what‘s going on, potentially. He keeps repeating the same thing over and over again. So you almost feel sorry for him. Because he‘s a candidate, he has to answer these questions. You‘re looking at him going, look, it‘s not fair, Keith. Leave him alone and don‘t ask him another question. But he is a candidate for the United States Senate, so how do you leave him alone? Whatever they planned on doing is actually working.
MATTHEWS: Exactly right. I think we are completely on the same page here. Mr. Sellers, last question to both of you. Do you think this has the look of a dirty trick? Sort of a Watergate number? What do you think?
SELLERS: Well, I think sometimes in South Carolina we play dirty tricks on ourselves. I had a colleague refer to a candidate for governor and our president as a raghead. I had a lieutenant governor say that welfare was comparable to feeding stray animals. So I think that there‘s something nefarious may be going on. But right now, I‘m just praying for Mr. Greene. And unfortunately, it‘s another sad story coming from South Carolina.
Mr. Rutherford and I will continuously try to fight it and change that image.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. I think you have changed it a lot tonight. Gentlemen, thank you.
RUTHERFORD: -- disappoint nationally.
MATTHEWS: I think there‘s been some really squirrely stories coming out of your state, including that rag head comment the other day.
Up next, she‘s he‘s in her own winner‘s column for this week, on the emerging political power—we‘re going to talk about—of Sarah Palin. You better believe it. A reminder, my big documentary, “The Rise of the New Right” premieres this coming Wednesday, June 16th, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, here on MSNBC. This is going to cause some noise, I think. It‘s very illuminating. This is HARDBALL tonight, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, the World Cup of soccer opened today in South Africa. And with the BP oil crisis in the background, tomorrow the U.S. will take on England. What a game that‘s going to be. And the country‘s ambassadors are not letting the game go off without a friendly wager. “Politico” released an email exchange between British and American embassy employees calling the bet a test to the special relationship. At stake is a dinner at the restaurant of the winner‘s choice. How sporting. And the British ambassador said, quote, “he takes his stake like American soccer victory, somewhat rare.”
Oh, what a card he is. HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three out of four. That ain‘t bad. That‘s a 750 batting average. You‘re doing pretty well. Are you surprised you did so well?
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Oh, well, it certainly wasn‘t me. It‘s like Coach Wooden used to say. He would say it doesn‘t matter who was right. It matters what is right. And what is right is these mama grizzlies‘ message. There are others too, Susanna Martinez in New Mexico, and some other gals across this nation who are—yes, they‘re putting it all on the line. They‘re got the right message. They‘re busy women, so they don‘t have a whole lot of time for the stuff on the periphery that gets in the way of just getting the job done. And I think that bodes well to their work ethic and their determination to help turn this country around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: God, she doesn‘t have to breathe any more. That was Sarah Palin doing a victory lap on Fox Business, which looked a little bit like the 700 Club there. She backed winners like Carly Fiorina in California and Nikki Haley in South Carolina, who is expected to win a run-off ten days from now. She‘s on the cover, by the way, of “Newsweek.” right now—look at that, Saint Sarah.
What‘s her game right now? Is she just building her brand? Or is she
laying the groundwork for a big presidential bid for 2012. Lynn Sweet is
with the “
“Chicago Sun-Times” and PoliticsDaily.com, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is responsible for that cover decision. He‘s an MSNBC political analyst. Just kidding.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: That‘s OK.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this big push? I think—I‘ve got a commentary coming up in a few minutes. I think it‘s for real. I think she‘s running.
LYNN SWEET, “CHICAGO SUN TIMES”: She‘s keeping her options open. She‘s the leader already of a movement that no one would have predicted two years ago.
MATTHEWS: Define it.
SWEET: Define it—
SWEET: Evangelical Christian, female-based. She‘s got a base that she pulled out of nothing.
MATTHEWS: It‘s pro-life, but it‘s feminist, in her definition.
Grizzly bear mama or whatever?
FINEMAN: Mama grizzlies.
She has a base. She already has achieved a lot. She is already the leader of a movement. She doesn‘t have to decide a lot right now. She went into Iowa. She went into South Carolina, backed winning candidates there. That‘s kind of—
MATTHEWS: Why is she in the field alone? Why is she the only one out there? Mitt Romney is of somewhere in hibernation. Pawlenty is sort of showing himself. Why is she the only big bear out there?
FINEMAN: Well, the fact is that Mitt Romney endorsed a lot of the same people but nobody cares what Mitt Romney does.
FINEMAN: How‘s that for astute political analysis? Nobody cares. Sarah makes news wherever she goes. A lot of it is blue smoke and mirrors here. She didn‘t endorse Terry Branstad, the former governor of Iowa, until two or three days before the election. Branstad was already ahead in the polls. There‘s a lot of—
MATTHEWS: Barack Obama endorsed offshore drilling a few days before the disaster—
FINEMAN: No, no, my point is that it‘s not like she made the revival of Terry Branstad. We all say, hey, great—
MATTHEWS: Why did she do?
FINEMAN: She did it because she‘s running for president and because she wants to take credit—
MATTHEWS: She‘s smart.
FINEMAN: She‘s very smart—
MATTHEWS: Did Branstad embrace her endorsement?
FINEMAN: Because she‘s box office and because the women especially—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s cut the diamond here. Good question. This is a tough one. Jerry Brown is the Democratic nominee for governor of California, to go back to be governor again. He has a 50/50 shot. He‘s running even with Meg Whitman, with all her money. Watch this. Here‘s Palin tagging Brown. Let‘s listen and see if that‘s good for him or good for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I guess I don‘t have enough grace to apply to Jerry Brown when he says he isn‘t going to be one for taxing Americans. Look what he did when he was governor. He talks about cutting taxes back in the day, back in the ‘70s in California, but look at what the foundation has been built upon there in California. And he had been a part of that, and that was spending outside of their means, and then looking to increase taxes, taking more from the producers in their state in order to fund bigger government. He was a part of that foundation. I guess I don‘t have enough grace to say, hey, Jerry, I believe you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know how she raises—she really modulates her voice very effectively. She raises it up to a sarcastic high above sea thing when she‘s really putting someone down. When she gives a regular conference conversation, it‘s modulated. But when she wants to put somebody down, her sarcasm is searing. It‘s done through phone. It‘s powerful. I think it works.
SWEET: It is. That‘s one of her tools in her arsenal. If there‘s one person who I think can handle her in a way no one else can, it is Jerry Brown. He has the sense of quirkiness about him. He can be as asymmetrical in political warfare as she is.
MATTHEWS: Would you like her in there if you‘re Meg? Meg Whitman is a smart person. She‘s a business person. Is this a good cost benefit decision?
FINEMAN: No, I don‘t think so. I think it‘s good for Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin‘s is running. She‘s running against everybody simultaneously.
She‘ll run against Jerry Brown. She‘ll run against another Democrat there. She‘s take them all on. She‘s the mama of the mamma grizzlies. It‘s good for Jerry Brown, because nobody is going to pay attention to Meg Whitman. It‘s supposed to be—
MATTHEWS: He is.
FINEMAN: Yes, he is. What I‘m saying, Jerry Brown may as well make the race him against Sarah Palin, forget about Meg Whitman.
MATTHEWS: I see.
FINEMAN: I think that helps Jerry Brown. Makes her—
MATTHEWS: Makes Palin her surrogate?
FINEMAN: Yes, it makes Meg Whitman herself inconsequential in her own campaign.
SWEET: Also, remember, we‘ve already stopped talking about that this is a woman who quit her job as governor because people thought she needed it to buff her resume to run for president. All this is distant past now in political conversations.
See, Howard, I think she doesn‘t really know for sure about how this might pan out. But she‘s on a road that could lead to it or not. She keeps herself in play. As soon as she commits to something, that‘s when we‘re serious—
MATTHEWS: Does she have a—
FINEMAN: she has instincts to beat the—
MATTHEWS: She‘s got great instincts. Reporting time here; does she have people around her who know political history? She was a little weak on Jerry Brown‘s history, obviously. She‘s very scant. It‘s not hard if you‘re a front-running candidate to grab smart people, Mike Murphy, people like that, bring them in, and get some advice. Does she know political history through advisers, telling her Nixon did this, she could do it?
SWEET: I don‘t know that. I don‘t know that. See, Chris, that depends on if she wants to go the conventional way to get real advisers. Anyone who really wanted to do it would—
MATTHEWS: Foreign policy people around her.
SWEET: -- have not had that interview the way she did.
FINEMAN: I was just talking to a very prominent Iowa Republican. I said, who does she—that‘s the guy who told me basically she latched on to Branstad at the end, which was smart. I said, does she have anybody? Does she have a seeing eye dog there Iowa? Who does she have in Iowa? He said, nobody. She just materialized at the end. She swooped in, you know, for the—made the endorsement and that‘s it. I mean, somebody‘s got to be helping her with the map of the country.
MATTHEWS: I think she‘s learning a lot.
FINEMAN: Learning a lot on her own.
MATTHEWS: She‘s not helping what‘s his name, Greene. Howard Fineman, thank you. Lynn Sweet.
When I return, I have some thoughts along these lines. I think this is a woman to watch, fear her, love her, you‘re going to have to deal with her. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my belief that Sarah Palin has a serious future in presidential politics. Consider the history of an earlier figure of controversy in the Republican party. Two years before he ran successfully for president, Richard Nixon, a man defeated for president, and then governor of California, saw an opportunity and made a calculation. The former vice president looked ahead to the 1966 midterm elections and saw it as a big opportunity for a Republican comeback. He reckoned it could also be a comeback for Richard Nixon.
NBC correspondent Robert McNeil witnessed Nixon reciting from memory the name of the Democratic incumbent, the Republican challenger and the local issues in 50 congressional contests in which he was about to campaign. He saw victory coming for his party and he banked on taking credit. When campaign aide Pat Buchanan, our Pat Buchanan, talked with excitement about the ‘68 presidential campaign, Nixon said first ‘68.
For Sarah Palin, the watch phrase is, first 2010. Watch her campaign this summer in fall for Republican candidates with an eye as to who‘s likely to actually win. She‘ll pick Tea-party types, like South Carolina‘s Nikki Haley, where they can win. Mainstream Republicans, like Iowa‘s Terry Branstad, where they are solid favorites. What she needs to do is establish a solid win sheet to prove the party insiders and Republican voters alike that whatever else can be said about her, she‘s an electoral heavyweight.
Let‘s say it works. Let‘s say the Republicans score big this November and Palin‘s candidates score particularly well. Then it‘s off to the races. Here‘s the calendar. She wins the Iowa caucuses outright, triumphing among Christian Evangelicals, benefiting from the goodwill of Governor Terry Branstad.
She heads to New Hampshire, finishing second place or a strong third. Then first place in South Carolina, where Governor Nikki Haley does the job for her. Then back up to Michigan for a make or break test match with Mitt Romney, that sons political son.
To those who fear her and those who love her, take heed, this Sarah Palin thing is not a drill. At least in her head, it‘s real. And it‘s in a candidate‘s head that campaigns are conceived and committed to. You‘ll have plenty of time between now and February 2012 to check my words. That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. 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 BE UPDATED.
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>