updated 4/22/2005 2:47:55 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:47:55

Guest: Lynn Sweet, Jane Fonda

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, actress, activist and author Jane Fonda.  Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

               

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is turning up the heat on the Democrats over judicial nominations.  Senator Frist is trying to portray them as being against people of faith in a campaign with Christian conservatives.  On Thursday, Senator John McCain told me he won‘t back his party on the so-called nuclear option to kill the filibuster in judicial nominations. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I will vote against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS:  You will vote...

MCCAIN:  Against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you will?

MCCAIN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  So, you will vote with the Democrats?

MCCAIN:  Yes, because I think we have got to sit down and work this thing out. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll get to fight between McCain and Frist a little later on.

But, first, Jane Fonda, long known as a lightning rod of controversy, has laid out her life bare in the pages of her new book, “Jane Fonda: My Life So Far.”  It‘s a life of love, peace, and war. 

Hello, Jane. 

JANE FONDA, ACTRESS:  Hi, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m so glad you came. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You thought about it a lot before coming here. 

FONDA:  Thank you for having me. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I have got to start with a story about Hank, your father.  Many years ago, in the Madison Hotel here in Washington, I went in there for lunch and there was Henry Fonda.  He looked great.  He had a sort of sports jacket on, sort of tweed something or other.  He looked great. 

And he was so admired that, as a celebrity, everybody in the room knew who he was and everybody left him alone, except for one horse‘s ass went up and did one of these things: “You must be.”

What is it like to have a father so august as a celebrity that he was sort of celebrity?

FONDA:  What I remember about the celebrity was how much he hated it. 

When my brother and I were little and we would go someplace public with dad and people would come up and ask him for his autograph, and he would just—he would have a meltdown.  He would—the mood would turn black and he would run away or get upset. 

MATTHEWS:  He didn‘t want that? 

FONDA:  No.  And, you know, I kept thinking, well, I mean, he‘s an actor.  It shows people that like him. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  Why not like...

MATTHEWS:  Enjoy it.

FONDA:  Enjoy it.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Relish it a bit. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

But it was—I guess there are actors like that, who choose to be in the profession, but can‘t stand what comes with it. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

You know, one thing about him that was vintage and I think really authentic—and, of course, you knew him.  I didn‘t know him.  But he—when he did “Mister Roberts” on Broadway after World War II, as playing the naval officer, Mr. Roberts, he wore the same hat on stage that he wore during the war. 

FONDA:  I didn‘t know that. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you know that, the same officer hat?

FONDA:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  But what it tell us is that he lived a life that he was proud of and he wanted to play. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you wish—well, let me put it this way.  Jane Fonda, anti-war person, right?

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  If you had lived during World War II, instead of Vietnam, how would you have been behaving?  How would you have been seen?  World War II. 

FONDA:  I think I would have—I think I would have viewed it as a justifiable war.  I know there were some conscientious objectors then.  But, I mean, Hitler was—there was a very clear enemy both in Europe and in Japan.  And Japan attacked us.  And, you know, I probably would have enlisted. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you have been throughout selling bonds with all the movie stars and all that sort of thing?  Would you have been a gung-ho patriot? 

FONDA:  I think I would have been like my father.  I would have wanted to enlist. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So, why did we go to Vietnam?  Did you ever think through—I know you were against the war.  Why do you think the people who were for the war, the good people, why were they for that war? 

FONDA:  You mean citizens? 

MATTHEWS:  Why did we fight the war?

FONDA:  Well, because our leaders...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why did we fight—why did we fight the Vietnam War? 

FONDA:  Our leaders told us that we were fighting it to defend democracy in Vietnam, that we were—that the North Vietnamese had invaded asked South Vietnam and were trying to destroy democracy. 

But it was a lie.  Vietnam was one country.  We are responsible for perpetuating the division between the two parts of Vietnam.  There was no democracy in South Vietnam.  Anybody that protested the government that we installed there would be tortured and put in jail. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  It‘s like...

MATTHEWS:  Well, Eisenhower once said, if they had an election in South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would have won it. 

FONDA:  By 80 percent.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  That‘s right. 

And the French were there before we were.  They had a colony.  They colonized Vietnam.  We sided with them against the Vietnamese, which was a complete betrayal of what our forefathers would have done.  We‘re supposed to stand for independence.  And we supported the French.  They lost.  And we just went in there and replaced them and tried to keep control of the area. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why do you do a good man like Jack Kennedy—he said the day he died, without the United States, South Vietnam would collapse overnight.  He was supporting it with 18,000 troops right to the end.  He believed in the war.  Why did he believe...

FONDA:  He didn‘t believe in the war. 

MATTHEWS:  He didn‘t? 

FONDA:  He said that—no.  He said to Schlesinger in 1961, if we really go to war in Vietnam, we‘re going to lose, just the way the French did. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did he take us all the way to the end of his life? 

FONDA:  Because he was afraid of losing the election.  And that is why.  He kept us there, although he didn‘t—there were advisers under Kennedy, because he was afraid that if...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There were 18,000 soldiers by the time he left, he died. 

FONDA:  They‘re all afraid of premature evacuation. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Meaning? 

FONDA:  If they pull out, they‘ll be called unmanly men. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FONDA:  They‘ll be called weak on communism.  That was Johnson‘s great fear. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  You were up—you were a bit older than me at the time.  When you looked around the world at the time of the Vietnam War, you saw the communists advancing in Africa.  You saw them picking up countries here and there.  You saw them—and certainly, they had advanced heavily in the Asian part of the world.  In Latin America, you had Castro.  Wasn‘t there a legitimate fear that we were being encircled by an international communist empire at that point, with people like Khrushchev pushing it, and Ho Chi Minh—and Ho Chi Minh joining in as a partner of Mao?  They were all working together, weren‘t they? 

FONDA:  Ho Chi—no. 

MATTHEWS:  They weren‘t?

FONDA:  Ho Chi Minh begged the United States to help them become independent of France. 

MATTHEWS:  I remember it, in ‘45.

FONDA:  He offered us a base in Vietnam, a military base.  He offered us so much if we would simply help them remain independent. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  Vietnam could have been a neutral country.  Right now, in spite of the fact that the enemy won and that it is run by communists, you know, we are in trade, billions of dollars of trade with them. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  It‘s a huge place for American tourists.  Americans who go there find that they‘re very well treated by the Vietnamese.  None of it had to happen.  It didn‘t have to happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Well, when you go over there now—and I‘ve been there a couple times in the last couple years. 

FONDA:  Have you? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  It is a very quiet country.  And they‘re very nice to us. 

There‘s no bitterness, believe it—as you know. 

But do you think that they had—at the time we fought that war, you don‘t think there was an ideological piece, do you?  You just thought it was nationalism, just defending their country?  You don‘t think they were communists? 

FONDA:  Well, maybe they were communists. 

MATTHEWS:  Ho Chi Minh.

FONDA:  Maybe they were social—but the problem, the country was an agrarian country that was then colonized. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  And you can‘t—it‘s very hard for a country, a small agrarian, poor country, to move from colonialism to democracy. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  And Ho Chi Minh was essentially a nationalist.  He believed that Marxism was going to be a way for them. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  But—but, I mean, many people, I think rightly, have said that he was really more like Tito...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  The Yugoslav president, Marshal Tito.

MATTHEWS:  I understand exactly.  You know your stuff. 

Let me ask you this.  John Kerry, why did he wobble on this in the campaign? 

FONDA:  I don‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  He was anti-war.  He was leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  He came back and ran for president.

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  With “reporting for duty,” like he was a G.I. Joe.  Why didn‘t he say, some wars are wrong; some wars are right; the Vietnam War was wrong?  Why didn‘t he stick to his guns on that? 

FONDA:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know, because, from my point of view, there is nothing more noble than to say, I am going to risk my life for my country.  The war can be wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  But the desire of men and women to fight for their country is noble. 

Many men went over there like John Kerry did voluntarily and put themselves on the line.  And many of them, when they were there, realized that it was wrong, that we were being lied to, that we were not there to protect the South Vietnamese, that we were not wanted there by the South Vietnamese, and had the courage to come back and say, got to stop.  This has to stop.  Young lives are being put into an atrocity-producing situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  What courage that took, what courage, because, you know, we kill the messenger. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.   

FONDA:  We don‘t want to hear people say that.  And they have the guts to come back and tell the truth. 

MATTHEWS:  What good did—I mean, I had John McCain on last night.  I asked him what he thought about you.  And John McCain says, well, I forgive her.  People make mistakes.  They admit it.  That‘s fine with me.

He wants to move on.  And it‘s more than that.  It was nicer the way he said it.  I can‘t quote him.  But it seems to me that, going to Hanoi at the time you did, didn‘t help end the war faster.  How can you make that claim, that it ended the war faster?

FONDA:  Well, I don‘t know about ending...

MATTHEWS:  The war ended because we stopped funding the Vietnamese and basically Nixon pulled the troops out and eventually we stopped funding them by ‘75 and the government fell.  That‘s how the war ended.

FONDA:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  It ended miserably.

FONDA:  I went there to try to stop the bombing of the dikes. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  I knew, because it said so in the Pentagon Papers, that we had considered under the Johnson administration destroying the dikes of North Vietnam.  Then it said that, if they were bombed, a million people would drown or starve. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FONDA:  Under the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger said maybe 200,000 people would die.  We got word that the dikes were being bombed.  It was a catastrophe. 

MATTHEWS:  Did it happen? 

FONDA:  I filmed it.  I filmed it. 

MATTHEWS:  It never happened, did it?

FONDA:  I brought it back.  And I have...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We didn‘t—we didn‘t—we didn‘t kill 200,000 people by flooding. 

FONDA:  No.  Oh, no.  The flooding didn‘t happen because it stopped. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  

FONDA:  It stopped a month after I got back.       

If I just played a small role in that, then I‘m proud that I went.  We were being lied to by the Nixon administration.  He was trying to convince the American people...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you have one enemy in common.  Well, it may have been LBJ.  But, you know, John McCain—and he is not God.  He is on this show a lot, but he‘s certainly not God.  John McCain says that they didn‘t like Johnson, but they liked Nixon because they thought Nixon, by bombing the hell out of North Vietnam, ended the war. 

FONDA:  Who liked him? 

MATTHEWS:  The guys in the Hanoi Hilton. 

FONDA:  Oh, the POWs?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  They liked Nixon.  They thought he helped end that war.

FONDA:  He sure did increase the number of POWs, 10- 20-fold. 

MATTHEWS:  But he got them out, didn‘t he?  They came home under Nixon.  He welcomed them back in ‘73. 

FONDA:  They got out, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t they thank you?  They thank Nixon.  Why are they wrong, the POW guys? 

FONDA:  I didn‘t get them in and I didn‘t get them out.  Why should they thank me? 

MATTHEWS:  I thought you said you helped shorten the war. 

FONDA:  I think everyone that protested the war, the fact that most people here were against the war helped bring about the ending of the war, because we demanded and succeeded in cutting the funding for the war.  And that‘s partly why the...

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  ... government collapsed. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you are of that?  Are you are?

FONDA:  Totally, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t have any doubts about that? 

FONDA:  Totally.  I‘m absolutely sure. 

MATTHEWS:  You believe that your activism was fundamental in reducing the length of that war and convincing that America it was a bad war?

FONDA:  Me and tens of thousands of others. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I think you‘re right. 

FONDA:  Totally.

MATTHEWS:  I do believe politicians that listen to critics.

FONDA:  Totally. 

MATTHEWS:  And they listen to the opponents.  And if that war was supported by the American people, we might have stayed in there a lot longer and still lost. 

FONDA:  Totally. 

And a lot of veterans know that.  I just did a radio show and I got all these letters and e-mails from vets saying, thank you, because we believe that anti-war protesters did shorten the war.  And I know that is true.  It is important for citizens to stand up when we‘re being lied to by our government. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t the majority of people who do think the war was a mistake, especially veterans who think so, why don‘t they have the voices that the guys with the ponytails on the motorcycles have?  Because those guys, you know, the MIA guys are still out there.  They‘re still fighting the war.  You know that.  You meet them.

FONDA:  We‘ve never—we‘ve never come to terms with Vietnam.  It is still an open, oozing wound.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  Because of the revisionism that‘s prevented the American people from understanding what it was about. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s still guys that there‘s MIAs over there.  There are still people who deeply believe there‘s MIAs over there. 

FONDA:  Yes.  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And they still want to fight for—and they don‘t like this regularization of our relations with that country.  You‘re right.  The war keeps bleeding us. 

FONDA:  We have to learn the lessons of the past, so we don‘t repeat them, the way we are right now.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think we‘re doing in Iraq the same thing? 

FONDA:  No, it‘s a different war.  It‘s not the same thing.  But we got into it on lies and I worry that we‘re going to stay there from lies. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you know—again, I ask you the central question. 

(LAUGHTER)

FONDA:  Why did we go to war with Iraq?  I keep asking people this question.  It isn‘t the WMDs, because the president says it‘s not the WMDs, because we‘re still there, rightfully.  Well, when, if we‘re there rightfully, why is it?  What do you think it is for?  Changing the Middle East around?  Is it ideology? 

FONDA:  Yes, I think so.

MATTHEWS:  Is it oil?  What is it? 

FONDA:  Yes.  I don‘t think it is as simple as oil.  I think it‘s, we want to control the region. 

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re right. 

We‘ll be right back with Jane Fonda.  The book is called “Jane Fonda:

My Life So Far,” great book.  It really reads well. 

And later on in the hour, it is tax day and more and more Americans are finding out they owe money to the government.  So, why aren‘t the Republicans in power doing more to push major tax reform?  It‘s a good question. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with Jane Fonda, author of “My Life So Far,” on her trip to Vietnam and what impact it had on the Vietnam War—when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back on HARDBALL with Jane Fonda. 

John McCain was on the show last night.  And I asked Senator McCain what he thought I should ask you tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  I think you should ask her what she was thinking when she got into that anti-aircraft gun site and applauded and smiled and all that.  And I think she‘s going to tell you she was young and foolish and regrets it.  And if anybody regrets something they‘ve done—I‘ve regretted some of the things I‘ve done in my life—that‘s fine with me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, nice fellow. 

FONDA:  Yes, he is.  He is. 

MATTHEWS:  And what do you think about a guy that was inside getting beat up for six or seven years or—and realizing, through the—whatever the underground buzz was, that you had come into the country and taken sides with their captors and torturers?

FONDA:  I didn‘t take sides. 

MATTHEWS:  You didn‘t? 

FONDA:  No.  No.

MATTHEWS:  They thought did you.  And these thought you did.

FONDA:  Well, you know, I‘m sorry. 

MATTHEWS:  The public thought you did. 

FONDA:  No.  A lot of public knew that it wasn‘t that and knew that I went there to try to blow the lid off it and expose the lies and end the war. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you made them look like the good guys.  You made the North Vietnamese look like the good guys, didn‘t you? 

FONDA:  I don‘t know.  I didn‘t even think about how I was making them look. 

MATTHEWS:  Because you were having a good time with them. 

FONDA:  Yes.  At that moment, I was.  They were singing to me and they asked me to sing to them.  And we were laughing and applauding.  And I was asked to sit down.  And I did.  And, click, and the picture was taken.  And it was terrible.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  But looking back all these years—I know you‘re sorry about the picture and the photo-op you gave them.  Obviously, they used it. 

But do you feel, looking back, that they were the good guys, looking back right now? 

FONDA:  You know, if I was a soldier, I certainly would not think so. 

If I had had my friend shot up, I wouldn‘t think so. 

But, from an historical point of view, they were defending their country.  If we had been invaded and an invading force came into this country and divided us in half at the Mississippi River and accused anyone from the west of the Mississippi river who crossed over to east side, either to fight against the invaders or to see their family, the enemy, you know, we would understand why people were fighting and why people from both sides of the Mississippi would be trying to get rid of the invaders. 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  But horrible things happened in the process of us—of them fighting us because we were there and we shouldn‘t have been there.  So, you know, from that point of view, no, they weren‘t good guys.  They did bad things, just like we did.  But we should never have been there. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people who are very gung-ho Americans, very patriotic, thought that war was a mistake at the time and later.  But they can‘t imagine slipping out of their American skin, their American soul and becoming so objective, as you just were a minute ago, to put yourself above both us and the Vietnamese and saying, I find the Vietnamese were objectively the good guys. 

How do you step out of being an American to make such an objective judgment? 

FONDA:  I never did step out of being an American.  I went as an American, as almost 300 Americans had gone before me. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FONDA:  You know, this was not new.  This was eight years into the war. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FONDA:  Almost 300 Americans had gone, journalists, priests, Vietnam veterans.  Right after me, our former attorney general went there.  Many of them talked over the radio there. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  I mean, it was not—it was not all that unusual.  It was just that I was a celebrity of a certain kind. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re huge.

FONDA:  I had been Barbarella.  So, it caused more attention. 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  Which was one of the reasons that I went.  I wanted to stop the bombing of the dikes.  And I knew that my celebrity would expose what was happening.  At least I thought it would.  And it did. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Let‘s talk about you, the public you. 

FONDA:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  Because we‘ve done this. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve exhausted it.  I want to move on. 

FONDA:  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  And I think it is great the way you answer these, because -

·         thank you, by the way, for answering all the questions. 

FONDA:  Certainly.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s obviously you doing this.  This isn‘t a performance.

FONDA:  I have to own it.  I‘m responsible.  I take the responsibility for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about your movies, because I‘m a fan, OK? 

FONDA:  You are a movie fan. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I am a movie guy, as you discovered.

FONDA:  I discovered that, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Now, I remember you being interviewed by Edward R. Murrow, OK?  That‘s all.  You were in an apartment in New York.  You looked like a million bucks.  You still do.  Some kid in New York, a bunch of boxes and suitcases in some brand new apartment.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here is the great Edward R. Murrow with the cigarette coming in by television to interview you.  Do you remember that? 

FONDA:  I remember it because I have photographs of him interviewing me in an apartment that I had not even moved into yet.  I can‘t even believe you saw that.  I mean, that was, oh...

MATTHEWS:  I do remember it.  I was a kid.

FONDA:  I do.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are you forgetting this now? 

(LAUGHTER)

FONDA:  Well, because I didn‘t realize the importance of who Edward R.

Murrow was. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

FONDA:  Or—none of that.  No, I was just—I was just barely—I had just barely finished my first movie. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you glad you‘ve been a movie star all these years, given everything? 

FONDA:  It‘s a fabulous profession.  You know why?  It‘s a profession of empathy.  We get paid for inhabiting other people and seeing through other people‘s eyes.  And those other peoples become part of us. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s what I want to know.  You were inhabited. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You were inhabited and you inhabit.  You have been married to Roger Vadim, the avant-garde auteur from France.  You have married to Tom Hayden, the lefty at “The Ramparts,” the fighter against the war.  You were married to Ted Turner.

In each case, you took on a role, fellow militant in one case, fellow sort of European avant-garde moviemaker, a corporate wife.  Is there a—and you grew up the daughter of Henry Fonda.  Is there a Jane beneath all the covering and all the relationships and partnerships?  Is there a Jane that survives all of that that‘s distinct from all those experiences? 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is that? 

FONDA:  Jane is a smart, resilient, brave seeker. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re Cat Ballou. 

FONDA:  I‘m partly Cat Ballou.  I‘m partly Bree Daniel. 

MATTHEWS:  From “Klute.”

FONDA:  I‘m partly Barbarella. 

MATTHEWS:  So you are part of all the characters you played.

FONDA:  Well, I...

MATTHEWS:  Because you brought yourself to those characters or you got from them. 

FONDA:  Yes.  Yes.  There‘s a little bit of me in all them, and vice-versa, yes.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  My favorite line from “Klute” was...

FONDA:  Let it all hang out?

MATTHEWS:  That sounds like an interesting party.  That will cost you a little more. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  “My Life So Far,” it is No. 1 on “The New York Times” best-seller list.  More with Jane Fonda when we return.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re Jane Fonda, who I almost threw for a full loop.

Let‘s talk movies for a while and we‘ll come back and talk one more serious discussion. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I love “Cat Ballou.”  And Lee Marvin and the horse were both drunk, right?

FONDA:  Well, he was.  The horse was well trained and Lee was drunk. 

MATTHEWS:  “The Chase” was one of the great movies.  Penn made it. 

You and Redford and, God, everybody was in that movie. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Robert Duvall. 

FONDA:  Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Janice Rule.  I mean, it really was.  And Lillian Hellman wrote the script.  And Sam Spiegel produced it.

MATTHEWS:  Did she really?

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Was that a left-wing or a right-wing movie?  I couldn‘t tell.

FONDA:  I don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  Because it was red meat.

FONDA:  I have no idea.

MATTHEWS:  And you began to hate the mob and love Brando, because Brando stood up to the mob at the end. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  At the end, he was the only guy who was a stand-up guy. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And Redford was fabulous as Billy something or other. 

FONDA:  Right.  My husband, yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And you were this great, well, obviously great-looking girlfriend that stuck with him, even though this other guy was after you all the time.  The rich kid was after you. 

FONDA:  Right. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I love these characters.

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  ... you remember these things. 

MATTHEWS:  “They Shoot Horses,” I hated it.  It was negative.  It was suicidal.  Two young, great-looking people, you and Michael Sarrazin in this dance hall, where you danced all night because Gig Young go, “Yowza, yowza.”  And I don‘t understand why you wanted to commit suicide.  Why didn‘t the two young characters go off and get a job?  I don‘t care if it was the depression.  Go work in a movie.  Go work on a farm.  Why did they want to commit suicide?  What was this negativity about? 

FONDA:  They were damaged people. 

You want to get into suicide? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  I think it has nothing to do with whether they‘re good-looking or not.  She—my thing is that I think she was an abused girl who has been beaten around and sold herself to men and been taken advantage of and thought she was not worth living, a broken person who should be shot. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The bad part of ‘60s was the whining in the ‘60s, like, oh, we‘ve had it tough.  Our parents were tough on us.  It was rough.  And it was never easier than it‘s ever been in history to be a ‘60s person.  But everybody had to have a problem. 

FONDA:  Well, there were lots of problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Like? 

FONDA:  Well, women were less than.  Blacks were less than and having to fight to get to the...

MATTHEWS:  But these characters weren‘t black.

FONDA:  Oh, you mean in respect to the movie? 

MATTHEWS:  Why was it so negative and suicidal?

FONDA:  They were poor people, poor people.  They were poor people who were desperate. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that what it was about?

FONDA:  Who was trying to—the dream, people willing to destroy themselves to reach the pot at the end of the rainbow that never really was there. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  It was all a hoax.  It was a metaphor. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I thought of that movie?  And I love a lot of these other—I thought it was a whiny movie.  I thought it was a complaint movie about two potentially and objectively strong people.

FONDA:  I want to ask you something.  Do you think my book is a whiny book? 

MATTHEWS:  No.  I think it is very well—and very honestly put. 

FONDA:  Thank you.  OK.  I—because I didn‘t want it to be. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s not.  In fact, I recommend it.  It‘s dry-eyed. 

FONDA:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s good.  It‘s like Katharine Graham‘s book. 

FONDA:  No blame.  Oh, thank you.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Katharine Graham wrote the best book ever about being Katharine Graham.  And you‘ve written the best about being—more with Jane Fonda. 

We‘re going to get tough.  We‘re going to get nice, too.  More—the name of the book, by the way—I don‘t have to sell it, but I will—“My Life So Far,” no. 1 everywhere after this.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Jane Fonda, author of “My Life So Far.” 

You know, much of the press coverage about your book is about that period and that moment when you did sit in that anti-aircraft seat, and you said you‘re sorry for that.  But there‘s so much more to you.  I mean, I think about the times and sort of the innocent years back when you were this young actress in New York and “Cat Ballou,” the wholesome stuff, and then “Barbarella,” which was sort of over the top, right?

FONDA:  Fun. 

MATTHEWS:  How would you describe yourself as Barbarella? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And, by the way, who picked this picture? 

FONDA:  Random House.  I...

MATTHEWS:  This is an amazing picture, of course.

FONDA:  I think I look like I‘m waiting to be slapped.  I didn‘t want to have it there, but they insisted. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there‘s a guy in the world who doesn‘t think that‘s a pretty picture? 

FONDA:  No, I think probably—it is a pretty picture. 

MATTHEWS:  It is a gorgeous picture. 

FONDA:  I once looked like that.

MATTHEWS:  So, do you wish you were still her? 

FONDA:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you wish you were still that girl?

FONDA:  No, no, I don‘t.

MATTHEWS:  Why not?

FONDA:  Not for anything. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not?

FONDA:  Because I‘ve—you know, the truth is, Chris, I‘ve never been happier at 67.  Isn‘t that great?  I really am.  I‘m so happy. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, what about this apartment of yours, this loft in Atlanta that you say is—described like the female physiognomy.  I don‘t want you to do it on this show, but you have described an apartment that describes a woman.

FONDA:  It‘s a beautiful apartment. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes?

FONDA:  It is just wonderful.  It‘s a lock-up and leave.  I can be alone there and feel fine.  My grandchildren can play there and feel fine.  And I can have a fund-raiser for 80 people.  It works. 

MATTHEWS:  Why Atlanta, not New York, not Hollywood? 

FONDA:  Well, because Ted brought me to Atlanta.  And I put down roots and I started two organizations, nonprofit organizations.  My daughter lives there.  My grandchildren live there.  Eventually, you have to stop running. 

MATTHEWS:  You live in a red state...

FONDA:  I don‘t like this red and blue state. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m teasing, obviously, but Jane Fonda lives in a red state. 

FONDA:  Because—right.  But it‘s basically purple.  We‘re all the color purple.  There‘s a little bit of red and a little bit of blue in all of us.  And we end up purple.  And that‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Where‘s your blue? 

FONDA:  Where‘s my blue?

MATTHEWS:  What part of you is conservative?  What part of you is red? 

FONDA:  I don‘t know how to—I don‘t know how to answer...

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you like lower taxes? 

FONDA:  I‘m a Christian.  I believe in...

MATTHEWS:  Do you like less government influence in our lives?  Do you

·         what would you call it? 

FONDA:  I hate corruption.  I hate pornography.  I don‘t like the way the media is so immoral, frankly.  I worry about my children and what they‘re seeing on television and in the movies.  My daughter doesn‘t allow them to watch television, in fact, which I think is great. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you ever turn off a movie your kids are watching or... 

FONDA:  Well, my daughter doesn‘t want me to turn it on.  So...

MATTHEWS:  Really?

FONDA:  No.  So, you know, that‘s that.  But...

MATTHEWS:  Are you a born-again Christian? 

FONDA:  I don‘t know.  I am a feminist Christian.  And it is hard for me to say that, because, these days, that word is so loaded with politics. 

MATTHEWS:  Which one, feminist? 

FONDA:  Christian.  Christian. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

FONDA:  You think fundamentalism.  You think these angry, judgmental people that are saying that they believe in the values and teachings of Jesus. 

I‘m a Christian.  I‘m a feminist Christian.  And I‘m very different than that. 

MATTHEWS:  At this point in your life, what is it about the story of Jesus, the Christian story, the New Testament, that grabs you? 

FONDA:  One of the things that grabs me is his belief and his teachings that all of us, men and women, rich and poor, are full human beings with full rights to be respected and honored and protected.  And let us care for the least of us and let us advocate for peace, these kinds of things.  I think that Jesus was a feminist.  I think Jesus wanted to bring a real balance between men and women.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s “The da Vinci Code” argument. 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  I haven‘t read “The da Vinci Code.”  I‘m...

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  ... selling “The da Vinci Code,” though. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but there‘s something interesting we all know.  If you read the New Testament and you come across the character I find fascinating, is Mary Magdalene, a friend of Jesus‘.  You, she is a hooker.  Is she a Klute or is she just a woman that isn‘t considered savory enough for the rest of... 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  He saw her as a human being, just as he saw the Samaritan woman as a human being...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  ... and the adulteress as a human being. 

This is—when you think about the period of history that Christ came into, you realize how incredibly revolutionary he was. 

MATTHEWS:  To treat women as equals. 

FONDA:  That‘s right, and to countenance the poor and to say that our job is to protect the meek and the least of us.  That was so revolutionary at that time. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the people who wrote about Jesus, the evangelists, changed the message to more of a patriarchal kind of a statement? 

FONDA:  I think that, back in the fourth century, the bishops made a decision—and I can‘t judge whether that was good or bad, except that it did become patriarchal.  They made a decision about what was going to be included in the Bible. 

And it is very interesting, if you go back and read the early Christians, the Gnostic Gospels and others, as I am doing, and you see that, boy, there are some wonderful things there that got left out of.  The Gospel of Thomas, when he talks about Jesus‘ sayings and it is not included in the Bible, but it is beautiful. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  And it is deep and it is what‘s missing today. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s great.  And I think, when you read the New Testament, that‘s great.  And I agree with you. 

Thank you.  What else can I—were you watching the burial of the pope last week?  Did you pay much attention to that? 

FONDA:  I did. 

MATTHEWS:  What did it say to you? 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  It was inescapable. 

Well, it said to me that there was much about him that was, from my point of view, wonderful.  And there was much about him that caused tremendous suffering for women. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FONDA:  I do not agree with his positions on women.  And I wish that I could have taken him to Third World countries, so that he could see, as I wish I could President Bush, the effects of the gag rule and the depriving women of the right to determine their reproductive lives and how it is killing them and destroying their health. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So, you think that women should be allowed to have abortions, right, in every part of the world? 

(CROSSTALK)

FONDA:  I think women should be allowed.  I think that women should be allowed to determine whether or not they have a child.  Women know the best whether they are capable of raising a child to be a productive citizen. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Well, thank you very much.  You‘ve stated your position here clearly. 

And you‘ve been fun. 

(LAUGHTER)

FONDA:  Thank you, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  You made people that dislike probably like you a little bit more.  I certainly do, and never had that problem. 

Jane Fonda.  The name of the book is “My Life So Far,” beautifully written, up there with Katharine Graham, No. 1, because of good writing. 

MATTHEWS:  How many years on this? 

FONDA:  Five. 

MATTHEWS:  You wrote it.  No ghost here, right?

FONDA:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  You did it.  Anyway, you deserve credit for this book.

FONDA:  Thank you, Chris.  I appreciate that.

MATTHEWS:  Because I think you really did answer a lot of the questions people like me have about you.  And you also dazzle us with your.... 

FONDA:  Dazzle?  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  ... beauty and all the good things. 

Up next, Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist takes on the Democrats, saying they‘re against the people of faith.  We‘ll talk about that with MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson and Lynn Sweet of “The Chicago Sun-Times.” 

And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, will Bill Frist and the Senate Republicans win the battle and kill the filibuster that has been used by Democrats to block the president‘s judicial nominees?

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

My colleague Tucker Carlson is with me, as you can see.  And Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for “The Chicago Sun-Times.”

Big fight brewing over court judges, judges in the court system in our country.  The president has been very aggressive in other areas.  Is he going to the wire on this?  Is he going to push with Bill Frist, the Senate Republican leader, to get rid of the filibuster and stop the Democrats from stopping these court appointments? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC:  I think he may. 

It depends how they spin it.  I mean, there are two ways to do it.  One is making the broader, larger case that every nominee ought to have a vote on the floor and that one senator shouldn‘t be able to stop the whole body from floating on that nominee.  And I think that is an argument people can understand and relate to. 

But the Democrats‘ counterargument, which is carrying the day at the moment, is, here‘s this corrupt body, the Republicans, changing the rules now that they‘re in power.  They basically resemble the party they displaced, the Democrats circa 1990.  And that‘s kind of the narrative right now.  I think that the Republican are losing on this one.

MATTHEWS:  Lynn, do you agree that the Republicans are losing the argument?  Even though it seems like they do have a good argument, which is, the president of the United States picks the judges.  The Senate‘s job is to confirm or reject, not to stall.  They have a chance to—they say themselves, we don‘t to have say yes or no.  We can just kill the guy by not voting on him.  Is that fair?

(CROSSTALK)

LYNN SWEET, “THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES”:  Well, it is a tactic. 

And I think fair isn‘t the question.  So, fair is fair when you‘re in this kind of environment.  If you can do it, then it is fair, Chris.  Now, is it good politics for the Democrats at the moment?  Yes.  I think they could have thought of another tactic that might have been a little easier to explain.  That is that no one should have a hold on any confirmation.  Every confirmation should have a stand-alone, up-or-down vote, as Tucker just mentioned. 

But when the Republicans made the—I think a mistake of just saying we should just change the rules just for judges, instead of saying we should change them for everything before the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?  Well, that may be—in other words, get rid of the filibuster, period? 

SWEET:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the—what about—who gets blamed if the Senate Democrats do what Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, says he will do, shut everything down if they get rid of the filibuster for court nominations?   

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  It didn‘t work when Gingrich tried it last time. 

MATTHEWS:  It didn‘t, did it?

CARLSON:  No, it really didn‘t.  Actually...

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t act like president, can you?

CARLSON:  I don‘t believe that he means that.  I don‘t think that they mean that.  I don‘t think that they would do that anyway.

SWEET:  They can‘t possibly really want it.  The backfire potential is enormous.  It is better to have the argument than to have the filibuster. 

MATTHEWS:  Is the Senate that important we can‘t do without it with a few months? 

SWEET:  I think, sometimes, the less legislation is the best legislation. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Amen.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, what would happen—wouldn‘t it be great if the Senate did what the hockey leagues did?  They just shut down and nobody noticed and nobody cared?

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  Call the season.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.  Go on strike, U.S. Senate.  We‘ll live without you.

SWEET:  Call the season.  Say, come back in September. 

MATTHEWS:  They can live by a continuing resolution, can‘t they? 

SWEET:  They could.  They could. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell talk about Tom DeLay, one of the guys who is really interesting in this town.

He‘s a regular, working-class guy.  He was an exterminator, a bug exterminator before he came here, not one of these fancy lawyers in town, not an academic, tough guy from Texas, a real soddy buster, a real regular, tough guy.  He is now up against everybody, it seems.  Is he being fairly attack or unfairly attacked, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  I think—personally, I believe he is being attacked for the wrong reasons.  I think there are good reasons to attack Tom DeLay.  “The Wall Street Journal” attacked him last week, two weeks ago, as essentially becoming what he sought to replace, becoming sort of advocate for big government, a guy who has presided over this massive increase in spending, is essentially a Democrat fiscally.  That was “The Journal”‘s case.  I think it‘s a fair case. 

He is also a bit of a bully.  Everyone in Washington knows that.  Those are fair reasons.  Attacking him on this dumb ethics stuff I think a lot less honorable and in the end less effective than going after him on his ideas.  If you‘re upset about the way he handled the Terri Schiavo case, say so. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  If you don‘t his position on abortion, argue.

MATTHEWS:  Why do the Democrats fear to go after him on ideology?  Why are they going after him on—let‘s face it.  Most congressmen take trips.  Most congressmen take trips that are paid for by different trips, whether it‘s AIPAC or any kind of group, no questions asked.  Why are the questions being asked about this trip to Russia he took for one week? 

SWEET:  Well, in this case...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, he didn‘t make any money over there.  He went over to talk about Christian, what, civil rights and human rights over there. 

SWEET:  Well, the—look, whenever a congressman takes a privately funded group, which is different, so the audience knows, between a congressionally funded trip, which happen all the time. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SWEET:  And that money is taxpayer money. 

It is up to the congressmen, I think, to know everything there is about the group.  And this is where the nub of the debate is.  DeLay thought that it passed the standards. 

MATTHEWS:  Smell test.

SWEET:  And, supposedly, it did not.  I think the bigger conversation is why any congressman takes these private trips, period, because it lets them all look like they‘re being held to the feet of special interests.  But is it fair?  This is Washington, Chris.  You know, we‘re on a show called HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SWEET:  And he left himself an opening for his political enemies.  And for someone as smart politically as Tom DeLay is, I‘m not quite sure why he didn‘t see it coming and figured out a way to plug—to plug things up earlier, such as the apology he made this week for the inartful statements in the Terri Schiavo case. 

MATTHEWS:  He has also come back on that and he is fighting like mad again on the Schiavo case, saying he is going to investigate the judges who decided not to take that up at the federal level.  He‘s still fighting hard.

SWEET:  Oh, right.  So, so, when you talk about being a bully, this is really what the Republican want.  When they complain about activist judges and judges can say, well, look.  You‘re coming after us.  I can‘t imagine how that helps Republicans. 

MATTHEWS:  Can I ask for a prediction, Tucker?  Will he survive? 

CARLSON:  The honest...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Tom DeLay in the majority, the House Republican leader. 

CARLSON:  The honest answer is, I don‘t know.  My gut instinct would be no.  But I think the more interesting question is, what do the Democrats get if they knock off Tom DeLay now?

MATTHEWS:  And they bring in a guy named Blunt, right, Roy Blunt.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  That‘s right, who actually is much worse for the Democrats, in my view. 

SWEET:  I have a prediction.  He is going to survive because he only needs the majority of the caucus, which is 116-something.  But his hopes for ever becoming speaker have been dashed, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this—does this speak to—this is an objective question.  The Democrats have not been very good this year in advancing an agenda.  Is this their agenda, to knock off some Republicans? 

SWEET:   I—here‘s—I‘ve been exploring that idea.  I‘m not sure that the Democrats themselves know where they want this DeLay storyline to go.  No one expects him just to quit.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re right.  Do you know what Clark Clifford once said? 

Wherever you go, that‘s where you‘re going to be. 

SWEET:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not sure they know where—they don‘t know where they‘re going. 

SWEET:  ... this out there.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The Democrats are in disarray, I think.

Anyway, thank you, Tucker Carlson.  Thank you, Lynn Sweet, colleague Tucker Carlson.

Up next, our special coverage “For the Brave” and how celebrities are getting involved to help America‘s severely wounded soldiers help to rebuild their lives. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  All this week, we‘ve been sharing some inspiring stories of disabled veterans taking their first steps on the road to a new life as part of our special coverage, “For the Brave.”  It is also a live that has had a dramatic impact on able-bodied Americans you may know. 

Here‘s HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  At the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports clinic in Colorado...

LARRY BARNETT, RETIRED MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL UMPIRE:  More of them know her than me. 

BO DEREK, ACTRESS:  No, no, no, no.

SHUSTER:  There are a few celebrities.  That‘s retired Major League Baseball umpire Larry Barnett and movie star Bo Derek.  Six years ago, Derek‘S disabled stepson passed away. 

DEREK:  He was quadriplegic 25 years.  I had no idea what he was capable of.  He didn‘t know.  And his life was not nearly as full as our veterans that participate in these programs. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One, two, three. 

SHUSTER:  This program was the first for actor John Corbett. 

JOHN CORBETT, ACTOR:  I know, in my life, I‘m going to be less afraid to talk to somebody who has a disability.  There‘s a lot of people out there freaked out by people in wheelchairs or people with their legs missing or arms missing.  It‘s OK, man.  They‘re still great people. 

SHUSTER:  Amy Grant and Vince Gill were also here. 

AMY GRANT, MUSICIAN:  One person is in a chair and one person is not.  And that doesn‘t—that‘s no judge of who they are.  It just tells part of what their journey in life has been. 

SHUSTER:  This winter sports clinic wouldn‘t be possible without corporate and private sponsors.  Jack and Deborah O‘Brien own a landscaping company in California and said they were once unsure of how to interact with people who had disabilities. 

DEBORAH O‘BRIEN, WINTER SPORTS CLINIC SPONSOR:  I didn‘t know if I Should offer to shake their hand if they were quadriplegic.  And that‘s gone now.  There‘s no more discomfort in my heart.  And there‘s none in theirs.  I mean, they‘re not different people. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good to see you out here again, sir.

LT. GEN. RICK KELLY, U.S. MARINES:  It‘s great to be here. 

SHUSTER:  Lieutenant General Rick Kelly has been volunteering at this event for years. 

KELLY:  I describe the clinic to my friends and anybody that might be interested in it as the most uplifting thing you‘ll ever do in a one-week period. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘ve got outriggers Y-5.

SHUSTER:  But it‘s also something you can get involved in, in your own community.  Volunteer Larry Barnett, the retired Major League umpire, has visited every V.A. Hospital in the United States and he says it is something anybody can do. 

BARNETT:  Because if you‘re in a town where you have a Veterans Hospital, just go out and say hello.  A lot of these guys are forgotten people. 

SHUSTER:  Though they have not been forgotten this week. 

(MUSIC)

SHUSTER (on camera):  If you would like more information on the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic or information on how you can help in your community, please contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at va.gov or Disabled American Veterans at miracles.dav.org.

I‘m David Shuster, MSNBC, in Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster, for a great week of reports. 

On Monday, we‘ll get the latest from Rome, as the College of Cardinals begins its conclave to select the next pope. 

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.

END

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